February 10, 2004

V-Day Festivities Return to Cornell

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Yesterday, the showing of Real Women Have Curves in Noyes Hall began a week-long observation and commemoration of V-day.

V-day, founded 6 years ago, refers both to an organization devoted to ending violence against women and to Valentine’s Day. This day was chosen by V-day’s creators as a day to highlight their achievements and the work still to be done.

“Allying the themes of violence against women and the celebration with the established cultural idea of Valentine’s Day helps to draw attention to the more negative side of relationships and enhances the appreciation of women,” said Vagina Monologues actress and Cornell Women’s Resource Center advisory board member, Susan Metzger ’04.

Cornell participates in V-day as part of a coalition of 650 colleges and universities nationwide that organize activities to raise money for organizations whose goals coincide with those of the V-day organization. Cornell has been doing this for 6 years under the guidance of Gannett and the Women’s Resource Center.

This year, the University will be selling vagina-shaped chocolate lollipops and “clothes-line” pins as part of an effort to garner funds to support the Ithaca Advocacy Center.

Aside from this, there will be two performances of Eve Elsner’s Vagina Monologues, movie showings throughout campus and a party at the end, raising awareness of women’s issues.

Even before any official activities have started, Cornell’s V-day seems to be a monetary success.

“We’ve made over 700 vagina pops this week and we’re already sold out,” said Kelly Connison, director of the Women’s Resource Center.

Moreover, one of the two performances of The Vagina Monologues, the centerpiece of this week’s activities, is sold out.

Despite the Vagina Monologues’ current on-campus success, six years ago they almost did not happen. Karen Obel ’88, a Cornell graduate and the director of V-day’s college coalition at the time, contacted Cornell, among other schools and suggested performing The Vagina Monologues.

“We worried that the monologues might be too progressive for the campus, but eventually we agreed to do it,” said Nina Cummings, health educator at Gannett.

The performance was held in the Big Red Barn, and it was a “smash success.” According to the program’s organizers, performances have been sold out since their first year. This year they will be held in Barnes Hall.

The shows are performed and attended by a cross-section of Cornell’s campus. Unlike several other colleges, Cornell draws its pool of actresses from the staff, students and faculty.

“The effect of not hiring professional actresses is that actresses are guided by their convictions and beliefs,” said Cummings. The audience varies from RA led groups to curious parties throughout the Ithaca area.

Nationally, any opposition to V-day and the Monologues in particular has been largely silent.

“V-day is a positive change from the concept of needing someone else in a relationship to loving yourself, which will hopefully lad to a broader sense of the word love,” said Elizabeth Bailey ’05.

Archived article by Matthew Vernon