Women’s Union’s annual ‘Vagina Monologues’ empowers

Charlotte Segal ’21 peforming ‘Reclaiming C*nt’ in Old Chapel. Photo by Zineb Hajjaj.

Charlotte Segal ’21 peforming ‘Reclaiming C*nt’ in Old Chapel. Photo by Zineb Hajjaj.

Rebekah Lindsay, Staff Writer

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This past weekend, Women’s Union presented their annual production of ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ a play written by activist Eve Ensler in 1994, consisting of interviews with dozens of women regarding issues intertwined with the female existence.

These issues including sexuality, self perception, societal dynamics, rape and abuse. This year’s show was skillfully directed by Christie Dionisos ’19 and Serena Tanzer ’21 and performed by each student involved. The monologues explore crucial topics, beginning conversations and bringing stigmatized realities into focus.

Ellie Paris ’21 started the show with The Vagina Workshop. Paris quirkily describes a self-exploration of her biological existence as she views her vagina for the first time with a group of women in a workshop. “My vagina is a shell, a tulip and a destiny,” she draws and discovers herself alongside her peers, many of which have very contrasting perceptions of themselves.

She describes her development to find comfort in the sexual, locating her clitoris and discovering and remembering orgasm, which is to her “a quake, an eruption, the layers dividing and subdividing.”

In ‘Vagina Happy Fact’ Princess Ojukwu ’21 is a force of sensual empowerment as she describes the biological function of the clitoris. She says, “The clitoris is simply a bundle of nerves: 8,000 nerve fibers, to be precise. That’s a higher concentration of nerve fibers than is found anywhere else in the male or female body, including the fingertips, lips and tongue.”

She goes on to compare the male and female biological composition, highlighting the fact that women are capable of experiencing twice the sexual pleasure than a man. The strength of Ojukwu’s words sends a call to the crowd demanding respect for female sexuality and desire.

‘They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… or So They Tried’ was a group monologue regarding gender assignment, transgender identity and hate crimes.

The monologue includes interviews from various transwomen, creating a dialogue that is resilient, sorrowful, painful and with a few moments of triumph. Growing up, she is bullied and beat by her peers for refusing to bow down, suffocate herself and live a performative masculine life.

One speaker transitions to a female at the end of the monologue, on her militant father’s dime. Another finds connection and romance; she is happy and even finds love.

The monologue takes an excruciating turn, when her boyfriend is beat to death in his sleep for loving a transgender woman. This hateful violence is explained by the victim’s girlfriend; “They didn’t want him falling in love with ambiguity. They were scared he’d get lost. They were that terrified of love.”

Kate Osterholtz’s ’21 captivating performance created a cheerful atmosphere into the crowd in ‘Because He Liked to Look at It.’ Osterholtz explains the difficulty in creating stable self-love even for one who understands the intricacies of photoshop media culture, casual degradation and political suppression, one who “know[s] the story. Vaginas are beautiful. Our self-hatred is only the internalized repression and hatred of the patriarchal culture. It isn’t real.”

She smiles, “Pussy’s Unite!” although this self-hatred may be artificial, it continues to exist. She elaborates, “I hated my thighs and I hated my vagina even more. I thought it was incredibly ugly.”

Eventually, she finds love and realizes the power that exists within her body when she interacts with a sexually influential partner named Bob.

Emma Mahony ’21 presented a ‘Not-So-Happy Fact’ from UNICEF’s 2005 Report Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting.

A Statistical Exploration, she goes into graphic detail regarding the horrific realities that those of us at Union College tend to shy away from.

Mahoney’s quiet yet regal solemn voice forces one to feel a necessary discomfort that could never even compare to a percentage of the pain the women documented by UNICEF had to endure.

She explains, “Female genital mutilation has been inflicted on approximately 130 million girls and young women. In the 28 countries where it is practiced, mostly in Africa, about three million young girls a year can expect the knife- or the razor or a glass shard- to cut their clitoris or remove it altogether.”

Mariam Musah ’20 possessed the stage for ‘My Angry Vagina’, protesting the clinical discomforts periodically placed upon women.

In ‘The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,’ Molly Brogie ’19 is a lawyer turned dominatrix, a female dispenser of pleasure and pain to womankind.

‘The Flood’ is carried by Angie Dedona’s ’19 impeccable transformation into an older woman where she sheds light on the results of sexual shaming.

Charlotte Segal ’21 is unapologetically sexual in ‘Reclaiming C*nt’ as she takes back a word used so often to destruct.

On the other hand, in ‘Six-Year-Old Girl’ Nicole Bergamini ’21 describes her vagina through the eyes of a child. She embodies purity and innocence.

In ‘My Short Skirt,’ Unglid Paul ’22 gives a monologue addressing rape culture. In a country that will parade a victim’s underwear before a court to defend rape allegations, Paul declares “my short skirt is not a legal reason for raping me.”

Clarity resonates in her words as her gaze pierces the crowd, daring anyone to question the inherent right to put on a skirt without fear, danger or judgement to be imposed upon her, or any woman.

Paul finds empowerment in her outfit, serenity slipping from her lips as she says “My short skirt is about discovering the power of my lower calves, about cool autumn air traveling up my inner thighs, about allowing everything I see or pass or feel to live inside.”

‘My Short Skirt’ is a concise, crucial piece defining the complete irrelevance of fashion in regards to consent, or lack thereof.

‘The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could’ is performed by Hannah Ellen ’19. She beautifully and powerfully illuminates the issue of rape in close proximity to the home and the physical pain involved.

Teenage perception becomes that of aversion, she thinks “my Coochi Snorcher is a very bad place, a place of pain, nastiness, punching, invasion and blood. It’s a site for mishaps. It’s a bad-luck zone. I imagine a freeway between my legs and I am traveling, going far away from here.”

After years of personal healing, Ellen finds “politically incorrect salvation” in the arms of an older woman. Her lover brings her gently back into a world of the sexual, of the beautiful, and most importantly, an atmosphere of safety and consent.

Bernadette Bruu ’21 finishes the monologues with ‘My Revolution Begins in the Body.’

Her powerful diction and expansive demeanor did the piece justice. Her words called for female unity, connection and protection.

She drives for inspiration for a future of improvement, strength and resilience. Among many issues she touches upon, she points out that female sexuality and existence is not that of submission, that we all should have “orgasm not ownership.”

Bruu’s words flow on, calling for her sisters to fight on and searching for internal “revolution [which] shows up unexpectedly, it’s not naïve but believes in miracles.”