Valentine’s Day at Elon University usually features girls walking back from the Mail Center laden with Teleflora boxes, men dressed in their snazzy best and singles out to dinner with their friends. Another tradition is the annual production of “The Vagina Monologues,” a play based on interviews conducted with thousands of women.
Playwright Eve Ensler, the interviewer who compiled the Monologues, first had the compilation performed in 1996 and has continually worked to update the Monologues.
The Monologues were directed by sophomore Rebekah Carmichael and sponsored by Elon Feminists for Equality, Change and Transformation and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
Fourteen women performed the Monologues in roles ranging from dark to happy and everything in between. Characters included a divorcee whose husband repeatedly cheated on her, a 72-year-old woman who never became intimate with anyone out of nervousness and fear and an Afghan woman forced to wear the burqa. Each monologue brought laughter, gasps of surprise or stunned silence, based on the subject.
Some monologues deserve special mention for their poignancy and portrayal. Freshman Sara Spadacene performed “The Flood” as the 72-year-old woman with understated humor, believable unease and quiet snark. Junior Paloma White made the audience believe that her vagina was, indeed, angry in “My Angry Vagina.” And in “Because He Liked to Look at It,” freshman Karrah Fleshman described coming to terms with her own body.
Throughout the performance, there were snippets of shocking facts. More than 130 million women around the world have had female genital mutilation performed on them, and 3 million more are added every year. In the United States, 200 million women are raped each year. And in 2000s-era Afghanistan, women were treated “as walking corpses.”
Sophomore Liz Green is an independent Women’s and Gender Studies major who performed in the Monologues last year. She performed “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” a story about repressed sexuality, rape and eventually, acceptance.
“It’s a message I believe in,” she said. “Being a woman is a beautiful thing and there is no shame in having a vagina.”
Sophomores Davis Allen and Elizabeth Moss came to the Monologues for Valentine’s day.
“I think the message of female empowerment is really important and lends itself to different contexts,” Allen said.
Moss has been coming to the Monologues each year she’s been at Elon and began seeing them before she was in college.
“(They are) funny, sad and powerful. You don’t have to be a woman to appreciate that,” she said.