By Julia Clunn
Vaginas were discussed, clitorises were praised, and cunts were exalted on Feb. 26 and 27 with Stony Brook University’s annual production of The Vagina Monologues. The Monologues are a collection of stories, written by Eve Ensler, that are based on interviews she conducted with women across the nation about their vaginas. Each monologue relates to the vagina in some way, be it through masturbation, love, sex, rape, orgasm, mutilation or your nickname for your “down there.” The Wo/Men’s and Gender Resource Center presents this play every year and donates all proceeds to fighting violence against women. A feminist show to its core, it proudly trumpets the joys, fears, and hopes of women’s sexuality while raising awareness of the violence committed against women, here and abroad.
This year’s production certainly delivered the feminist empowerment. Some women found their happy spots without needing man’s help, while others proudly demonstrated differing “power moans” for orgasm. An interesting point about this show is that each production may choose to add or subtract monologues as they see fit. Ensler has been writing new monologues each year since the show’s original production in 1996. The effect is that the play can be performed each year but be different every time. In truth, this year’s Monologues did not differ all that much from last year. It felt a little repetitive. Even, dare I say, cyclical?
An addition from last year that I did not particularly enjoy was the monologue of a woman watching her daughter give birth. In excessive detail she recalled the blood, the stretching, the screaming, and all the other things I’ve tried to block out of my mind ever since the Miracle of Life video in seventh grade. It was realistic to be sure, but accuracy can be lost on the audience if they are cringing throughout the segment.
However, the addition of the monologue “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” was an excellent choice. This particular piece was written from the perspective of transgender women who were born as men. It was a bit funny, sometimes sad, but overall provocative. It posed the question of what it actually is to be a woman. Do you have to be born with a vagina to be female? Asking questions and exploring the unmentionable is the goal of this show and this segment did a particularly good job of addressing that issue.
I feel the only major setback of the production was the expansion of the cast. Last year’s production had roughly 15-20 performers, each playing a few roles in the overall show. In contrast, this production bills 54 performers in its playbill! Each woman had one part in a single monologue, and for the remainder of the show they would stand on stage in the background. Having so many women onstage at once made the performance feel crowded and claustrophobic at times. [Insert line about your mom’s crowded vagina here]. What was even stranger was that while the show was going on, these women not performing would laugh along and whoop for the performing girls. It was quite distracting.
Truthfully, I did enjoy last year’s production more, but in my book any night filled with feminist empowerment and supporting a good cause is a night well spent. I was stirred by the power of womanhood and feminism that prevailed over the night. Inspired by their words of wit, wisdom, and womanhood, I celebrated the rest of the night in the best way I know how—by heading to Hooters for some hotwings. Vive la Femme!