“My vagina’s angry. It is. It’s pissed off. My vagina’s furious and it needs to talk. It needs to talk about all of this shit. It needs to talk to you.”- The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.
Before I performed, “My Angry Vagina” at CEU last Winter, I messaged my sister to tell her about it. She was interested–definitely curious–and asked, “Are you actually going to say the word VAGINA aloud??”.
That night I said the word vagina 20 times in front of a crowd of about 400 people. At the beginning I yelled it while complaining about tampons, pap smears, and thong underwear. By the end it was said softly as I conveyed hopes for my vjayjay to travel, learn, eat chocolate, and be free (of course at that point it was a metaphor).
The Vagina Monologues is a play daring to cover consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences, body image, genital mutilation, encounters with reproduction, sex work, and several other topics from the perspective of a diverse group of women. Women around the world perform the play every year as part of the V-Day movement, which supports grassroots efforts working to stop violence against girls and women. The wonderfully diverse community of CEU, is the perfect place to perform The Monologues if you ask me–and our opening scene in which we said vagina in 15 different languages is the tangible evidence I will give you to prove it.
So… what prepared me to get up there and voice my frustrations about the ridiculous expectations women face? The Human Rights Initiative at CEU and the amazing individuals performing alongside me. I wouldn’t have been able to publicly shout about my angry vagina without their support, or if I hadn’t watched fellow cast members fully jump out of their comfort zones during the rehearsals. A special shout out also goes to my roommates and friends who helped to further normalize these topics. These people truly encouraged me while we advocated for issues that are otherwise considered too “taboo”, “vulgar”, or “raunchy” for a group of women to cover, and that is ultimately what The Monologues are all about.
You see, for me, the performances have two immediate effects:
1.) Empowering the audience
2.) Raising $$$ for local organisations focusing on women’s issues
I first saw the monologues as a sophomore in undergrad, and let’s just say I’m glad the spotlight did not shine on me at any point during the show. It sure was an awkward handshake. One minute my cheeks were bursting red with embarrassment and another tears pooled in my eyes form the pain expressed through stories. But that initial performance gave me a lot to consider, and eventually a hell of a lot of confidence to go out and live my best life.
Last year I didn’t feel the slightest bit of embarrassment. I was, however, overwhelmed with anxiety and worried that I would tank my monologue. At one point I was whipping anyone who came near with a prop. But that stress eventually turned into strength as I repeatedly recited my lines in preparation. In the end nothing was forgotten (THANK GOD) and I left the auditorium hoping our performances would have the same impact on our audience in Budapest as they had on the 20 year old nerd sitting in the chapel at Carleton during a snowstorm.
My vagina is still angry. Pissed off. It’s still talking to you as I write. But it feels a hell of a lot better knowing we raised quite a bit of forints for NANE, a Hungarian nonprofit supporting victims of domestic violence, and we did that by sharing some of the most important stories on women’s issues that I believe every person needs to hear.
Good luck this year to HRSI and the crew. Break a tampon!
P.S. In case you are wondering I wrote the word vagina 15 times in this post.
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