Starting this Friday, Feb. 24, Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment and the Voices of Planned Parenthood will bring V-Day, an event of global activism, to campus.
V-Day is a campaign and organization that fights for an end to violence against women and girls that was started in 1988 by Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues.” Every year from February through April, Ensler offers groups from around the world the opportunity to produce her play. All proceeds from these events go to local shelters and rape crisis centers. According to the organization’s official website, V-Day has raised over $85 million since its start, with over 5,800 benefits performed last year.
For students unfamiliar with “The Vagina Monologues,” the play is a collection of individual and group dialogues based off interviews Ensler took with women around the globe. It discusses topics of rape, abuse, sexuality, body confidence and birth.
Whitman has been participating in the movement for several years. Each monologue in the production is individually directed and performed by students from the college. Ten percent of all earnings go to the V-Day campaign to support their international efforts; the rest of the profits will be donated to Walla Walla Planned Parenthood, the Walla Walla YWCA and the STEP Women’s shelter. FACE President and this year’s V-Day Director senior Ellie Newell expressed her conviction that the performance is something very relevant and personal to all students.
“Most of us have come into contact some way or another with domestic violence and sexual assault. As a rape survivor myself, the show has particular importance for me,” said Newell. “The show also has a heavy ‘love your vagina’ empowerment message, which is really important because I think female sexuality is a very touchy and taboo subject, even in 2012. I’ve had so many people approach me anonymously after the show in the past and tell me, ‘Your monologue inspired me to talk about my sexual assault and I’ve never told anybody before,’ or ‘Your show inspired me to look at my vagina for the first time.’ While I keep getting that feedback, the show is still relevant. The show also features both queer and straight women, and that’s a wonderful dialogue to keep going.”
The play is not a fixed performance but grows every year with additional pieces contributed by Ensler to place focus on new, modern issues. This allows for many variations of the play with groups often performing some of the pieces, but not all. This year, along with a new cast, Whitman’s version will feature three previously unperformed monologues.
“It’s something that is really uncomfortable, but that’s important and it’s important to sit in that discomfort and learn from it,” said senior politics major and first-time participant Alethea Buchal. “I think that a lot of the movements that have been going on this year at Whitman have been uncomfortable, like the Occupy Movement or just some of the discussions that have been raised, but that discomfort is what leads to change. If we can sit in discomfort for a moment, we will be more compelled to do positive social work.”
Students interested in attending and supporting V-Day can continue to purchase tickets for $5 in Reid Campus Center during lunch Thursday, Feb. 23 and Friday, Feb. 24, or at the door on performances dates. The showings will be held Friday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. in Olin 130.