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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Umass Boston Women’s Center Presents the Vagina Monologues

Umass Boston Womens Center Presents the Vagina Monologues

Chances are you’ve heard of “The Vagina Monologues,” even if you haven’t yet seen them. They put the V back in V-Day. “The Vagina Monologues” is the Eve Ensler creation which have helped to strip away the taboos about issues that affect women today including sexual assault, domestic violence, incest, genital mutilation, personal empowerment, survival, and healing. The UMass Boston Women’s Center is bringing this powerhouse to the Snowden Auditorium in the Wheatley building from March 1 to March 3, at 7 p.m.

And yes, the title has the word “vagina” in it. This is deliberate: the point is get over it, if you haven’t already. Yet even in 2007, four decades after the “Sexual Revolution,” it’s hard for most people to even say the word. A recent Florida production changed their marquee to read “The Hoohaa Monologues” after a passing motorist complained. They subsequently changed it back, but not before it hit the news wires. This is a symbol of the behind-closed-doors-approach-with-kid-gloves-and-never-ever-talk-about-it attitude that many of us grew up with regarding women’s sexuality, an attitude “The Vagina Monologues” is working hard to erase.

Based on interviews with more than 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality, “The Vagina Monologues” has become a sensation that has toured America in various cities and at hundreds of college campuses. The book on which the show is based has also been translated into more than 24 languages. “At first women were reluctant to talk,” Ensler writes. “They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn’t stop them.”

More importantly, the show has inspired a grassroots movement, V-Day, to stop violence against women. The facts still demonstrate that we are in crisis, violence against still rages across our nation.

The production here on campus is sponsored and organized by the Women’s Center, an open resource for the university community where you will find “information, resources, and support pertaining to women’s issues.” The Women’s Center sponsors many events and programs throughout the year such as The Vagina Monologues, as well as on-going bi-weekly peer groups.

“We’re taking our part in the V-Day campaign,” says Maureen Hardiman, organizer of the event. “This year, the theme of V-Day is Reclaiming Peace, so the international campaign is focused on women who are the victims of war.”

The show is made up of a series of standard monologues, but performers can choose optional monologues to emphasize a particular issue. This year, the Women’s Center is performing “Under the Burqa” and “The Memory of Her Face”, which is three sketches of women in war-torn cities such as Baghdad, Islamabad, and Juarez. The monologue Juarez will be signed by deaf student Denice Stewart.

“We wanted to raise awareness of violence against women, and raise money for a great organization,” Hardigan adds. This year, the production financially supports the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, which provides “free, culturally sensitive, age-appropriate services to rape survivors and/or their families from…cities and towns within the Rte. 128 belt.” They serve teens, women and men in English, Spanish, Haitian/Creole, and French. For more information, go to www.barcc.org.

Venus Swearingen, a post-Baccalaureate pre-med student, is a cast member this year. She says, “I’m doing this as a way to meet other involved students on campus and to gain a greater understanding of issues the affect women currently which need a greater awareness..rape, violence, sexual harassment. This is an important cause.”

Hardiman adds that The Vagina Monologues takes the “perceived shame out of the word vagina, and also strips away the silence around women’s issues.”

Venus laughs. “Own your vagina. Just be proud to be a non-stereotypical woman.”

“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed at 7PM, March 1-3 at the Snowden Auditorium. Tickets are $10, $7 with Student ID. For info, call 617-287-7986 or email [email protected]

The cast of The Vagina Monologues. (Photo: Chris Akelian from Akelian Productions)