February 17, 2005

Live Readings Wrap Up V-Week

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Last night marked the beginning of a two-night culmination to V-Week with a presentation of The Vagina Monologues. A cast of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty performed to an animated audience of about two hundred in Anabel Taylor Auditorium.

The Vagina Monologues, first performed in 1996, is based on interviews with over 200 women. Eve Ensler, the author of the play, incorporates these women’s testimonial into short skits. Topics include pubic hair, adulterous husbands, orgasms, moaning, vagina workshops, vagina-friendly cities, menstruation, childbirth, homosexuality and transgendered women. A few of the more serious skits include stories of homophobia, homelessness, abuse, rape and female mutilation.

“My short skirt is not an invitation, provocation, indication … [or] a legal reason for raping me.” actress Kate Boyles ’05 said in her monologue, “My Short Skirt.” The Vagina Monologues also offers the audience questions about what a vagina would wear and say.

Audience excitement reached its high toward the middle of the second part of the play in the monologue “Reclaiming Cunt,” performed by Nicole Nelson grad. Nelson’s skit attempts to redefine “cunt” as a positive synonym for “vagina.” Emphatically sounding out the word and repeating it, Nelson successfully encouraged the audience to join in the chant.

Written as a celebration of female sexuality, intimacy, vulnerability and strength, the play has a concurrent theme of women’s worries about their vagina and themselves as well as promoting self-love.

“I love vaginas. I love women. I don’t see them as separate things,” said actress Lynn Gerstein, a social worker at Counseling and Psychological Services, in her monologue, “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.”

Ensler consistently points out the need for women to talk about their vaginas and other female problems.

In “The Flood,” a monologue about a 72-year-old woman who had been haunted by memories of a teenage date for her whole life, actress Jessica Hayes ’05 said, “you’re the first person I ever told about this. I feel a little better.”

V-Day events range from safe-sex information sessions to “Vaginas are Gorges” t-shirt sales. According to the Women’s Resource Center, V stands for Victory, Vagina, and Valentine’s. Cornell has participated in V-Day since its inception seven years ago. All proceeds from ticket sales and fundraising benefit the Advocacy Center. “V-Day is about raising consciousness,” Kelly Connison, the Director of the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, told the audience.

V-Day is a week of celebration centered around The Vagina Monologues. It is part of a global movement protesting violence against women. Celebrated at hundreds of colleges and in cities throughout the United States, V-Day often raises money for local causes. In its seventh year, V-Day has raised more than $25 million.

V-Day is sponsored locally by Cornell Advocates for Rape Education, the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, Gannett, and VOICES. V-Day is run by CARE, an organization founded in 1984 that provides education and awareness of sexual assault issues on campus. Comprised of students, staff, and faculty from all disciplines, CARE also advocates for institutional and social change in women’s issues.

Archived article by Rebecca Shoval
Sun Staff Writer