Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” has fascinated audiences for more than 20 years for its frank discussion of sex and sexuality.
The play, to be performed on campus Feb. 14, also sheds new light on the SUNY Cortland Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee’s (CICC) theme of Incllusion, which explores why inclusion and equality are sometimes constructed illusions.
CICC, in collaboration with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, will present a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” in Old Main Brown Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. Although admission is free and open to the public, donations will be collected to help victims of violence.
“The Vagina Monologues” premiered in 1996. Feminist playwright Eve Ensler interviewed hundreds of women from all walks of life, all ages, and diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The subject of the interviews? Their vaginas.
“Half of the world has vaginas but we don’t ever talk about them,” said Jena Nicols Curtis, associate professor of health and coordinator of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
The response to “The Vagina Monologues” in the mid-1990s sparked the creation of V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against all women and girls.
The groundbreaking monologues are drawn directly from the experiences of the women interviewed and tackle a wide range of topics pertaining to sex and sexuality. Among the aspects confronted are body image, love, menstruation, masturbation, the orgasm, sex, prostitution rape and birth.
“Some of them are hysterically funny,” Curtis said, “and some of them will make you cry.”
Donations collected at the event will benefit Aid to Victims of Violence (AVV), an organization run through the Cortland YWCA that provides 24/7 assistance for victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault.
AVV provides services that directly benefit SUNY Cortland students, from taking victims to the hospital to accompanying them to Student Conduct hearings. Thanks to events like Cortland’s “The Vagina Monologues,” all of these services are available for free.
“Sometimes, when someone experiences an act of sexual violence, they don’t know who they want to know about it or what to do,” Curtis said. “AVV helps them deal with all of the emergency stuff.”
Curtis has organized the monologues at Cortland for the last decade in collaboration with Howard Lindh, instructional support technician emeritus of performing arts. When the play premiered, Ensler read all of the monologues herself. SUNY Cortland’s production will feature students, faculty, staff and community members reading the monologues, in order to recapture the diversity of the original interviews.
Others participating in this year’s production include Karla Alwes, distinguished teaching professor of English, Lauren Wells, lecturer III of English, Courtney Stafford, program coordinator of the Cortland LGBTQ Center and students Victoria Garcia, Colette Laprersi, Lauren Roberts and Tina Taylor.
“The Vagina Monologues” continue to raise awareness to important facets of women’s sex and sexuality that are not often discussed, while at the same time benefiting an important cause. Curtis said that the monologues have consistently drawn a large turnout and fostered a positive dialogue from the campus and community.
“I want to create a campus environment where people are comfortable talking about sex and sexuality,” Curtis said.
Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Ben Mayberry