February 14, 2012

Downstairs Lip Service: Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues’ comes to Louisville

By Erin Wade–

When it comes to having a raw conversation about the cat, there’s just no one that can do it better than Eve Ensler, writer of “The Vagina Monologues.” Prevention, Education and Advocacy on Campus and in the Community, known as PEACC, teamed up with several other organizations on campus to run Ensler’s play in support of V-day, the global activist movement to end violence against women.

The introduction of the play served as a crash course ice breaker in preparing you for the upcoming awkwardness you may feel throughout the play with the girls informing us of the various names vaginas are sometimes called. Of course, there are the familiar ones we’ve all come to know and love, but there were quite a few that I’m sure the audience hadn’t heard in general circulation.

My personal favorites include: monkey box, coochie snorcher, fannyboo and I do believe I heard breakfast of champions somewhere in all of it. Quite the vocabulary lesson.

The play started off with the lesser known skits “Hair” and “The Flood,” the latter about a 72-year old woman who had never had an orgasm, a horror story of sorts.

It then moved on to the classic episodes of “My Angry Vagina,” where the performers humorously rant about the injustices the vagina suffers, such as the use of tampons, thongs and cold OBGYN tools, and “The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy” in which a lawyer turned sex worker talked about her strictly female based clientele and how she loves to hear them moan. This skit is famous for its list of moans and the way they are performed.

It starts off normal: the vaginal moan, the clitoral moan, but then moves into the specialized moans consisting of the militant, uninhibited bisexual moan, the machine gun moan and the triple orgasm moan. I’ll leave it up to you to infer what those sounded like.

But not all of the episodes in this play were as lighthearted. “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” which is by far the most controversial, told the story of a girl who was sexually assaulted at 10, but then had a (and this is the controversy) sexual healing experience with an older woman when she was 13, though the script has since been changed to make her 16.

Crystal Newman, a senior psychology major who performed the monologue for “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” has been a part of this production for two years now. “What makes me come back is the empowerment. All the women involved come from such different backgrounds in all regards, and there’s just this overwhelming sense of belonging for everyone.”

This was the first year participating for Marian Mays, a senior history major and one of the two speakers in the episode “My Vagina Was My Village” (a tragic monologue about Bosnian women held in a rape camp). Mays said, “I had always wanted to do ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and support V-day activism in ending violence against women.”

Similarly, when I asked Colin O’Brien, the program coordinator at PEACC, about his motives for helping make this event happen, he said, “I really just wanted to bring more awareness to the issues that are showcased in the play itself.”

Overall, I think I speak for everyone, those who attended and performed, in saying it’s quite an experience no matter how you are involved.

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Photo courtesy of University of Louisville

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