The Collegian
Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Some students decry performance of Vagina Monologues

The cast and supporters of "The Vagina Monologues" expect a successful series of performances this weekend at the University of Richmond despite written dissent from the College Republicans.

The Monologues, which is performed internationally around Valentine's Day to support V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, opened Wednesday night and will be performed again at 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday nights in the Tyler Haynes Commons.

Although the cast is excited to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the play that celebrates V-Day, senior producers Ashley Bloom and Kerry Monaghan are prepared to face resistance from members of the Richmond community, specifically the College Republicans, they say.

"A lot of people have approached me in the two years that I produced it and told me that they were against it," Monaghan said. "The issues addressed can make you uncomfortable, but if these people just sat down and saw it, they would realize that it is not at all pornographic."

The performance, originally written by Eve Ensler in 1996, comprises a series of monologues spoken by different women, each monologue emphasizing the word "vagina" through good and bad situations women encounter, including violence, rape, menstruation and love.

In a written statement by Timothy R. Patterson, chairman of the College Republicans, he said the organization would not support the method of stopping violence against women presented during "The Vagina Monologues."

Patterson wrote: "'The Vagina Monologues' is virulently anti-male, and instead of cultivating a positive image of women, makes them seem desperate and pathetic. It encourages women to be sexually promiscuous, and in doing so, reduces the full potential of a human person to one body part."

Patterson declined to comment further.

The dissent also stated that Patterson and the College Republicans would rather raise awareness about stopping violence against women without references to the vagina, and they considered offering alternative activities to raise awareness during the nights of the performances. The Republicans will not be hosting any alternate events this year, but they say they hope to do so in the future.

"If we truly care about women, we should seek to empower them in ways that will actually brighten their future rather than reducing their identity to a single anatomical entity," Patterson wrote.

Still, Bloom and Monaghan agreed that making the audience uncomfortable through obscene language in the monologues makes a stronger impact.

"You need to hear the word 'vagina' and 'rape' and be uncomfortable to feel emotionally attached to the performance," Bloom said.

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Several members of the Richmond community joined Bloom and Monaghan in supporting and celebrating the performance.

"A variety of people audition each year, from students to professors," Monaghan said. "This year we have a group of women at the law school who are supporting us. It really shows the unity of Westhampton College women."

The Young Democrats are also showing support for the "The Vagina Monologues" by encouraging all members to attend.

"This production has proven that it can raise money for a great cause, helping battered women, to which no one, male or female, should object," said Chris Cotten, president of the Young Democrats. "I would say to those people who object to the content that they don't have to attend, but they should not get in the way of a show that so many other people enjoy and that raises so much money for such a great cause."

The proceeds from Richmond's "Monologues" performance will go to Safe Harbor, a local domestic violence shelter, and the Richmond YWCA Battered Women's Program.

Internationally, the performance will raise money and awareness for the women affected by Hurricane Katrina. Tickets can be purchased in the Commons for $6 and will be on sale before each performance for $8.

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