In 1994 playwright and female activist Eve Ensler released her play “The Vagina Monologues” and took the world by storm. Ensler based the play off of dozens of interviews that she conducted with women of all ages and backgrounds, asking them a variety of questions about their vaginas. The mission was to address women’s sexuality and to attempt to shatter the taboo that surrounds the vagina.
The success of the show inspired her to establish V-Day on Valentine’s Day of 1998 with the goal of ending all violence against women and girls. Every February Ensler allows groups around the world, like Hope College, to do the show rights-free and to donate the proceeds to programs that work to support women. Hope’s production of the show took place Feb. 14-16 with 90% of the proceeds earned from ticket sales going to The Center for Women in Transition of Holland. The remaining 10% went directly to the V-Day movement. When performer Mackenzie Hester (’20) from Hope’s production was asked why she decided to be a part of the show, she responded, “I joined ‘The Vagina Monologues’ because I have never had a good community of girls in my life or a safe space where I could talk about all these issues that I feel are important.” She is not alone.
Many women do not feel comfortable talking about their vagina or issues that pertain to it, including the women that Ensler interviewed over 20 years ago. Today in our society it is often still taboo for women to talk about their vaginas, birth control, sexual assault, feminine products or anything else that goes on “down there.” One of the monologues was very powerful in particular to Hester: “I really like ‘My Angry Vagina’ because it talks a lot about regular struggles that many women can relate to. Just simple but important problems such as feminine products. The lady in this monologue just wants to be heard. Why can’t we talk about vaginas without it being weird?
They’re a part of our bodies and they are always with us.” The Hope production of the show consisted of female Hope students of different ages, races and sexual orientations. They each recited the monologues that Ensler created through her interviews. These monologues covered a variety of topics including rape, childbirth, genital mutilation, pleasure, transformations, pride and love. This collection of voices provided the audience with so many powerful messages that can transform the way women feel about their vaginas.
When women involved with the show were asked to describe their experience in one word, they responded with “empowering,” “freeing,” “eyeopening” and “moving.” After this show, I and many others in the audience truly understood the phrase “vaginal wonder.” Audience members sitting in the Fried Hemenway Auditorium can now better appreciate the beauty and power of the vagina.