I realized the show wasn’t just for militant feminists, or wilderness lesbians, or crazy, hairy hippie women. It was for all of us. The Vagina Monologues is for women, all women, and everyone who knows a woman, loves a woman, has a mother, a sister, a daughter -- Roxy Lenzo
All teenagers rebel. But, as the product of countercultural artist parents, my rebellion took shape in somewhat unorthodox ways—for example, becoming a science major. The Vagina Monologues was a household name growing up, and I wanted nothing to do with it. My mother is and was a loud, empowered feminist, and I couldn’t have been more embarrassed. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I actually saw the performance, dragged to it to see a friend perform as “the moaner.” I was still completely embarrassed by my mother’s in-your-face brand of feminism and was sure I’d spend the entire show red-faced and slowly sinking deeper into my seat. Added to the predictable embarrassment and discomfort, I had a secret—I had been raped the semester before, and had barely told anyone.
As the show went on, though, I slowly relaxed. I laughed, I blushed (a lot), and I wept. This was not what I was expecting! I could relate to these women. Every monologue resonated with me; some made me uncomfortable, but even when I was, I was engulfed. This was a community of women, all ages, and backgrounds coming together. They were survivors and supporters and empathizers. They were funny and sassy and honest. At a time when I had barely begun to acknowledge what had happened, when I wanted nothing more than to forget—much less own it and talk about it—there these women were, brazenly authentic and openly owning their experiences. Experiences like mine.
When the show was over and they asked members of the audience who were survivors to stand up, I clung to my seat. But when they asked members of the audience who knew survivors to stand up, my boyfriend stood. That first experience of The Vagina Monologues was the turning point for me—I had gone from a victim to a survivor. I realized the show wasn’t just for militant feminists, or wilderness lesbians, or crazy, hairy hippie women. It was for all of us. The Vagina Monologues is for women, all women, and everyone who knows a woman, loves a woman, has a mother, a sister, a daughter. I realized I wasn’t alone. The next day, I joined a survivors’ support group.
This year, I finally auditioned for the Monologues. As I have told my friends about the performance and have begun to coerce them to come, I’ve found the same hesitancy that I originally felt about the play. “That’s the crazy feminism play about worshipping vaginas, right?” “It’s all about female empowerment and down with the man!” “The What Monologues?”
The Vagina Monologues. The Vagina Monologues is a conversation. Women talking about their experiences—the most beautiful, the most hilarious, and the most tragic moments of life. It’s a conversation that doesn’t skirt the issues, the statistics that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. When I tried to share that with a classmate of mine, he shrugged, “But that’s in the WHOLE WORLD, right?” As if that somehow made it better, if it wasn’t happening in our own backyard. I told him: Not only is it one in three women on earth, but one in three college-aged women in the United States. He responded, “Well that’s just not right.”
But the most important thing about The Vagina Monologues is that they don’t stop with that statistic. Instead, they celebrate all that is beautiful, wonderful, and strong about womanhood. The show celebrates survivors but it doesn’t leave them there. It includes all women, and everyone who loves women.
I’m not Eve Ensler. I can’t pull together the right algorithm of words to convey just what the Monologues are. But leave your expectations at the door, forget your preconceived notions and just come. You’ll be glad you did.
The Vagina Monologues at USC will take place February 15 through 17 at 8:00 p.m. at the USC Law School Auditorium (701 Main St.). Tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for the public. Proceeds will be donated to Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. (Find out more at vmonologuesusc.wordpress.com.)