“The Vagina Monologues” is a decades-old production that speaks in different segments about the experiences of women from all walks of life. Ramapo’s Women’s Center put on their fourth annual production of the play on Wednesday night.
Each year, a national campaign known as "V-day" celebrates performances of “The Vagina Monologues” and benefits social organizations dedicated to aiding women and preventing violence, according to V-Day's website. For V-day this year, the monologues included an addendum from a criminally convicted woman in each of its productions. Ramapo welcomed in Jasmine Sanchez this year to tell her story.
The monologues tell many diverse stories, compiled from over 200 interviews with women about their experiences. The original play stemming from these stories was written by Eve Ensler and premiered in 1996, and it has evolved over time.
The aim of the show is to bring attention to unheard voices, and a topic that is often considered taboo. Female seuxality, queerness, sexual assault, race and insecurity are all topics “The Vagina Monologues” embraces.
One monologue, performed by five readers, shared the experiences and thoughts of transgender women.
“They beat the girl out of my boy,” the women said in unison. “Or they tried.”
The experiences of the women represented by this speech often go unheard if not for productions like this one.
Another marginalized group represented in this year's show are rural women, specifically women of Bosnia.
“They invaded it. Butchered it and burned it down,” the reader, senior Maria Martinez, recited. This monologue brings light to the lives of women who experience sexual violence from soldiers. Voices of women in countries like Bosnia are not just silenced, but go completely unrecognized.
“The Vagina Monologues” works hard to hear these unrecognized voices.
Some of the stories share more common experiences that the audience found themselves snapping in agreeance with or with respect to.
“You can’t pick the parts you want,” junior Mariella Zijdel spoke in her reading of “Hair.” This monologue focuses on the pressures women face to alter their bodies in order to please their partners, and the rebellion it takes to refuse to do so.
Body positivity is another major theme that comes with the show. “The Vagina Workshop” is a monologue that speaks to the insecurity that many women feel in not knowing their own bodies out of confusion or fear.
“The Vagina Monologues” is here to remind the audience that being a woman is not a universal experience, and it is not always easy. With pressure and judgement from the world, women internalize this fear and often turn their eyes away from their own body, whether consciously or not.
“It’s a place. A place you don’t go,” read a segment titled “The Flood.” In order to capture a variety of experiences, “The Vagina Monologues” dedicates this portion to an older woman sharing her long timeline of experience with her own body, or lack thereof.
While this speech talks about the separation from one’s own body, it reveals toward the end that this woman is a cancer survivor who has had to have “everything” removed.
Later monologues such as “The Little Coochie Snorter That Could” shared explicit experiences with sexual assault throughout one woman’s life. These stories may be hard for the audience to hear, but honesty and reality are key to this show.
The cast took special care doing the show justice, and their work certainly paid off. The crowd was drawn in, laughed, snapped and listened with attention.
The Women’s Center has helped share unheard voices, too. In taking part in V-Day, all of the proceeds from the event go to Oasis – A Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, New Jersey.
Giving back to the community in a tangible way is just as important to the Women’s Center as sharing experiences and making emotional connections. They have hosted an event that has the ability to make a unique impact at Ramapo.