February 24, 2006

Students Celebrate Vaginas in Monologues

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“You’re the first person I’ve ever told about this. I feel – I feel a little better,” said Malka Benjamin ’07 in her skit, “The Flood,” about a 72-year-old woman who discusses her experiences and fears about her vagina for the first time.

Benjamin was one of over 30 women – mostly students – who acted in The Vagina Monologues yesterday and Wednesday in Anabel Taylor Hall. Both performances were full, and yesterday’s show sold out.

Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is based on interviews with over 200 women. Ensler turned her interviews into skits and testimonials about topics ranging from adulterous husbands to orgasms to genital mutilation.

Glynis Ritchie ’06 performed “Not So Happy Fact,” a skit informing the audience that over 130 million women have been victims of genital mutilation and about two million more are victimized each year.

“[Mutilation] cuts their clitoris or removes it all together,” Ritchie explained.

This year’s spotlight has been on another serious skit, “Comfort Women,” a euphemism the Japanese government used during World War II to denote women “forced into sexual slavery,” Vagina Monologues director Kimberly Rice ’06 told The Sun.

Numerical estimates of comfort women vary from 50,000 to 200,000; the women still living range in age between 70 and 90. The skit discusses the beatings they withstood, the diseases they contracted and other issues they dealt with while detained.

According to the skit, a group of comfort women protest outside the Japanese embassy in South Korea every Wednesday. The skit’s tag line, “Say it: We are sorry,” addresses their desire for the Japanese government to recognize their suffering, especially in light of similar situations prevailing today in other war-torn areas.

Since The Vagina Monologues debuted in 1996, the celebration of women’s rights and solidarity has transformed into V-Day, a global movement protesting violence against women. In its eighth year, V-Day celebrations nationwide have raised over $25 million. Local V-Day proceeds benefit the Advocacy Center of Downtown Ithaca.

One of the most invigorating skits encourages audience members to scream, “CUNT!” The monologue, “Reclaiming Cunt,” is about a woman who wants to change the “pejorative” meaning of the word “cunt,” said narrator Kelly Cronin ’08.

While there is an official script every year for the play, according to Rice, each performance can choose from several optional monologues as well.

“My Short Skirt” was one of the optional monologues chosen for this performance; Rice said that this skit is always popular with college students. The skit, performed by Emily Rejouis ’08, berates people who judge women for wearing short skirts.

“My short skirt is not an invitation.