Students explore gender issues through vagina monologues

Aaron Mudd

The idea of women talking openly about their vaginas may startle some people, but students involved with this year’s performance of “The Vagina Monologues” find it empowering.

This year’s student director, Alvaton senior Hilary Harlan, said the event is held each year in March, which is sexual assault awareness month. The event will be held in the Russell Miller Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on March 20. The event will be hosted by the Gender and Women’s Studies program, and admission is seven dollars. 

Harlan said the monologues are about “reclaiming the idea that our vaginas — our bodies — are ours and they’re no one else’s, and they can be empowering.”

While the play was performed across the United States, it inspired the V-Day Campaign, a movement that seeks to end violence against women and girls.

“The performance is a collection of monologues written by Eve Ensler,” Harlan said. “Each one is like a different story of a woman’s vagina.” 

The Gender and Women’s Studies program plans to donate the proceeds for Hope Harbor, a local organization providing free counseling and advocacy to victims of sexual violence.

Melissa Whitley, the executive director of Hope Harbor, said that sexual violence isn’t a problem only women deal with.

“I think the main thing is to understand that it can happen to anyone,” Whitley said. “It really is an epidemic for the amount of people sexual violence affects.” 

Louisville sophomore Erin Miller practices twice a week to prepare for her part in “The Vagina Monologues.” 

Although Miller struggles with her character’s British accent, she said that she’s working to make the character easy to empathize with. 

“The goal is for the audience to feel what the person performing the monologue and what the character in the monologue is feeling,” Miller said. “You have to work really hard to portray that.”

Before becoming this year’s director, Harlan attended the event her freshman year, baked for the bake sale her sophomore year and performed the part of the angry vagina last year. 

Harlan said her part last year was about a woman who felt everyone was trying to use her for her vagina. The monologues explore things that many women experience like rape and giving birth. 

Last year, Miller performed a monologue entitled “The Flood” about an elderly woman who discovers her sexuality. This year she’s performing a monologue called “The Vagina Workshop” about women who go to a workshop to learn about their vaginas.

When she first performed a part last year, Miller found the experience empowering. 

“We are kind of taught that we shouldn’t say the word vagina, we shouldn’t talk about our vaginas, it’s a really hushed subject,” Miller said. “It’s something you should be able to talk about and I think it’s a really empowering thing.”