Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

‘Vagina Monologues’ Talks Feminism At SU

    This weekend, Seattle University’s annual showing of “The Vagina Monologues” seeks to put the word “vagina” on everybody’s lips.

    “Half the world has a vagina,” said cast member Maddie Olson. “You might as well get to know what’s going on.”

    Written by Eve Ensler and premiering in 1996, “The Vagina Monologues” is a feminist episodic play composed of several vignettes about women’s diverse experiences with their bodies. The themes include sex, love, rape, menstruation, birth, genital mutilation and orgasm, among others.

    “It’s a play that never claims to tell every story, but it tells as many as it can,” said Akaila Ballard, co-director and cast member of the current production. “One of its strengths is that it does touch on a broad scope of issues.”

    “It takes people from different backgrounds, different ages, different perspectives [and] different countries, and gives them a platform to share their story,” noted cast member Louise Gappa.

    The show for this year’s run is co-directed by Ballard and Celina Enseñat.

    “We’re hoping to reduce the stigma around vaginas,” Enseñat said. “We’re trying to encourage conversation about vaginas and show they’re not this dirty, secret thing that only has to do with sex.”

    The monologues illustrate a variety of experiences with the vagina, both positive and negative.
    “It’s a really diverse show,” Olson said. “It will take you from really laughing to maybe feeling uncomfortable, to being very sad or devastated. It pulls at every emotion.”

    “It gives a fuller view of what it is actually like to be a woman, and the struggles and triumphs that come along with it,” said cast member Susanna Waldrop, who will perform the monologue “Because He Liked to Look at It.”

    This monologue is about a woman who thought her vagina was ugly until she met a man who loved to spend hours looking at it.

    “The main story behind it is that every woman should love their vagina and be able to accept who they are and what their body is,” Waldrop said.

    Other monologues are more solemn. “My Vagina Was My Village” describes a Bosnian woman imprisoned in a rape camp during the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s. She was one of tens of thousands of women who were repeatedly raped as a systematic war tactic. The monologue is told by two women: one illustrates the woman’s sexual experiences before the rape camp, and the other her experiences as a rape victim.

    Gappa plays the role of the woman before the rape camp.

    “She was very comfortable with her sexuality,” Gappa said. “But it drastically changed.”

    Olson plays the woman after the camp. Olson’s character tells the story of “all the unspeakable horrors that her vagina had to endure,” Ballard said.

    The actors focus on strength in this monologue, ending with the woman angry and determined to fight back against violence.

    Ballard is performing the monologue “My Angry Vagina,” a more lighthearted rant about the everyday injustices that vaginas endure, such as tampons, douches and gynecologist check-ups.

    “It’s so true,” Ballard laughed. “It’s something every woman has experienced when she goes to
    the gynecologist.”

    Ballard said women do not want to suffer through these everyday annoyances. “We want to go about our lives and we want to have orgasms, we want to feel pleasure, we want to not hate our bodies,” Ballard said. “Our vaginas are angry about that.”

    The monologues are based off interviews Ensler conducted with 200 women of varying ages, ethnicities, and sexual orientations in the early ‘90s. In 1998, Ensler began the global V-Day Movement, which strives to end violence against women.

    Seattle U’s “The Vagina Monologues” are donating 10 percent of their profits to the National V-Day Campaign, which distributes resources for people to present “The Vagina Monologues.”

    The other 90 percent of profits are being donated to the Northwest Network, which works to end abuse and create conditions to support healthy relationships.

    “They’re focused on the LGBTQ community as well as the straight community,” Enseñat said. “They’re super inclusive.”

    Inclusivity is an important element of “The Vagina Monologues.” The cast hopes to reach a diverse audience including men, Jesuits, and other unlikely viewers. Ballard and Enseñat invited Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J. and other Jesuits to attend the performance for free.

    “‘The Vagina Monologues’ are a stepping stone that aids in the conversation about vaginas, especially for a Catholic campus,” Enseñat noted.

    “The feminist conversation is a conversation for everyone who is willing to be a part of it in a critical and respectful way,” Ballard said.

    “The Vagina Monologues” will take place in the Pigott Auditorium on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Student tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the door.

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