“My vagina is angry … No! It’s lonely,” the actress exclaimed under the bright lights of the Rackham Auditorium stage. “No! It’s … hungry!” She then reached for a CVS bag under her chair and poured a presumably new bottle of Hershey’s syrup all over the girl sitting in front of her, impersonating her genitalia.
This was just one scene of many in the vivacious performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” a play that is made up of skits based on over 200 interviews with real women and their experiences with their lady parts. “The Vagina Monologues” were presented Thursday by Students for Choice. The organization said the show was meant as a movement not just to get students over the taboo speaking about their body parts, but to open a dialogue about more serious issues facing women all over the world, such as battery, rape and female genital mutilation.
In between speeches about discovering their femininity and embracing their sexuality, the all-female student cast raised awareness about the 200,000 women who will be raped and the one billion women who will experience violence worldwide in a year, organizers said. Most proceeds from the event went to Safe House, a support center in Ann Arbor for people impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault.
LSA freshman Connie Gao, a Students for Choice member, said while most of the audience was open-minded and receptive, she did receive some backlash while passing out fliers outside the event.
“People would make certain comments or glare at us, but you just have to go with it,” Gao said. “Even when people respond negatively and it’s easy to dismiss them, you have to try and educate them about why choice is important.”
Gao added that it’s been five years since “The Vagina Monologues” has come to campus and she hopes its return will make people more comfortable discussing these topics.
“It’s okay to be uncomfortable as long as you start talking,” she said. “I don’t know how you can claim to be progressive and open if you can’t have these conversations and hopefully it will go a long way to get rid of some of the misconceptions surrounding feminism and sexuality.”
Gao said some campuses choose to have separate showings for men and women, though the University’s audience of about 700 people was made up of both genders.
LSA junior Tammy Lakkis, a cast member, said she joined production following encouragement of the members of her feminist awareness club, What the F.
“I consider myself a feminist, but I’ve never done anything big to really advocate for it,” Lakkis said. “This was definitely something I could do that would take me out of my comfort zone and make an impact.”
Lakkis said she was “completely happy” with the way the show turned out, which she attributes to their practice schedule, which started once per week in January and increasing up to four hours each day in the weeks leading up to the performance.
“Until recently, the show was a little rough, but I was sure that we would pull through,” Lakkis said. “Everyone has such a passion for what we do and the issues they represent, and I knew that the audience would be sympathetic people, so I knew it would be fine.”
Engineering junior Karl Gendler, who was invited by a female friend, said the proliferation of the word “vagina” throughout the play — approximately 123 times in 75 minutes — did not make him uncomfortable.
“It was a wide spectrum of experiences, so I feel like everyone took something different away from it based on their personal experiences,” Gendler said. “Coming into something called “The Vagina Monologues,” I felt like I kind of knew what to expect, but it ended up being a lot more powerful than I was expecting.”
“I wouldn’t trust myself to adequately describe it to anyone, but it’s definitely one of those things that I think everyone should see.”