By Colleen Humfreville
“Come buy a chocolate vagina, the only kind you can eat out in public … legally,” Lauren, a bold redhead who positioned herself in the middle of Ring Road, yelled.
Hearing this announcement, people walking by often suspiciously put their headphones on, sending the message that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, talk to Lauren.
“I saw you put on your headphones,” Krystal, another “vagina” helping Lauren with tabling, added, “I know you’re not listening to music. Just come talk to us.”
Lauren, Krystal and the other “vaginas” — a term of endearment for cast and crew — sat at the table, handing out flyers and answering questions while pins, underwear, stickers and a variety of chocolate-favored vagina lollipops lay scattered on the table.
“The Vagina Monologues,” though, did not start out with this much of a fanfare. In its origins, Eve Ensler, the author, interviewed over 200 women about their vaginas, creating “The Vagina Monologues” from their stories. The show is dedicated to ending gender-based violence as well as ending the silence that often surrounds women about talking about their vaginas.
It was only 10 years ago that the show was brought here to UC Irvine. With the school cutting funding for C.A.R.E, the Campus Assault and Resources Education, “The Vagina Monologues” was introduced as a way to keep C.A.R.E. and its programs available to any student.
“Over the past 10 years, ‘The Vagina Monologues’ has raised over $100,000,” Lauren says. “This year, our proceeds will be going to C.A.R.E. as well as to the annual V-Day Spotlight Cause, [which is] build[ing] shelters for women in Haiti. We will also be donating to a local organization that works to stop violence toward the transgender communities, as well as to educate others about the discriminations that transgendered individuals face on a daily basis.”
For many people, the topics and issues discussed in “The Vagina Monologues” are unfamiliar, or only spoken of in hushed whispers. The message, though, is an important one: in regards to issues of rape and gender violence, V-Day works to create a safe space for the discussion of these often taboo topics.
However, this same signature feature of “The Vagina Monologues” tends to scare some people away from seeing the show. Lauren and the other “vaginas,” in fact, have found that many people think the show is synonymous with hating men.
“The show is not a show about hating men,” Lauren continues. “We love men. So often people assume feminism to mean man-hating women. We are not. The show is about vagina love for all individuals, no matter their gender identity. So many of my male friends have come out of the show with a completely new outlook on vaginas, women [and] sexism. You might call it ‘vaginal wonder.’”
For the cast and crew of the production, the opportunity for education is just as powerful, offering them their own space to get to know each other, as well as themselves and women in general.
“V-Day alone is an amazing movement,” says Anaiz, part of the production team with the show. “When I found out about V-Day I was amazed. I couldn’t believe that such a massive thing had been kept hidden from me for so many years. Upon volunteering last year, just for those four or five days, I learned so much from all the cast and crew. It’s absolutely incredible what a person can go through and still manage to come out standing. To be part of something so powerful and beautiful is great, especially since it can bring so many individuals together.”
Tickets for the show are available online at vdayuci.com as well as at V-Day’s table by Humanities Gateway for $10 (for students). The show will be held on Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m.