Photos: Lillian Schrock
Vaginas—stylized, colorful, fashionable, abstract, beautiful—are everywhere you look. They line the walls on posters, pictures and signs. They garnish the advertisements for booths selling T-shirts, underwear, bras, coupons and other various items. There are even chocolate vaginas being eaten at a booth with a sign that reads, “Eat Pussy for Charity.” Vaginas are everywhere and for good reason. It’s the Vagina Monologues at Drake University.
Drake students performed the Vagina Monologues. The monologues are from a play written by Eve Ensler and are a representation for V-Day, a global activist group. The event’s purpose was to raise awareness and stop violence against women and girls by focusing on a group of women who are opposing violence with bravery and aim.
This year, V-Day spotlighted the women and girls of Haiti with its V-Day Spotlight Campaign. The Spotlight Campaign concentrated special attention to Haitian women and girls because of increased violence that has centered on them since the January 2010 earthquake. Any funds raised through the campaign go to support a revolutionary national campaign in Haiti lead by women activists trying to stop the violence.
Overall, the three performances raise over $3,000.
Drake supported the V-Day Spotlight campaign by giving 10 percent of its earnings raised to V-Day, but Drake increased its focus to the local beneficiary, GEEZ (Growth, Education and Empowerment Zone) Louise as well. GEEZ Louise is a nonprofit feminist organization in Des Moines. The organization offers educational programming, skill building and additional help services to women of all ages.
The schedule of the night consisted of the vagina carnival at 6 p.m. followed by the show at 7 p.m. The carnival had many Des Moines and Drake organizations attend. Some of the organizations included Planned Parenthood, Beta Beta Beta, Rainbow Union, the Visual Arts Association of Drake and more. The organizations informed students about different human rights issues, sold items to raise money for the event and offered some creative activities like letting attendees design their own vaginas.
Many students wandered around the carnival purchasing items and speaking with representatives at the booths. But, soon the time drew close to the start of the show.
Swarms of students filed into the theater and searched for a place to sit. Almost every seat in Bulldog Theater, except a scattered few, was filled. The predominant audience member was female, but some males, bearing uncomfortable facial expressions at the beginning of the night, attended the event as well.
At 7 p.m. the highly anticipated show began. The Vagina Monologues consisted of a collection of stories centered upon the vagina and related female matters. Although each of the monologues did focus on female themes, the content varied among the 18 different monologues. For instance, there were narratives about hair, sexual abuse, rape, beauty, the clitoris, moans and more. Also, the stories’ content varied from comical, heartbreaking, inspirational and even awkward.
“The show was a nice mix of seriousness and humor,” Hanna Bartholic said. “It was brutally honest. They take the approach that people hardly ever talk about the vagina, so we’re going to talk about it extremely blatantly and shamelessly.”
The members of the audience were not the only ones who got to enjoy the show. The actresses in the show also received entertainment from the crowd. Vagina Monologue actress Andrea Piekarczyk said she loved looking at the expressions of the audience members.
“It was fun to see how much people did or didn’t get into the show,” she said. “Some people were totally into the stories while others had very uncomfortable looks on their faces.”
The night not only entertained both the cast and the audience, it gave people a better sense of women’s issues and what women have achieved to try to improve the world for females.
“I felt completely empowered by the show,” Jennifer Ebner said. “There were a lot of women and achievements to admire.”
No matter what one obtained from the show, The Vagina Monologues was successful in raising funds to continue to increase the awareness of violence against women and girls. The event ended with the cast of the show asking audience members to stand if anyone in the crowd had been or knew anyone who had been a victim before. Few people in the vast auditorium remained seated.
“We do this show to make the unheard seen,” Piekarczyk said. “It is ironic because we wish we wouldn’t have to do this show again, but we will do the show until no one in this room or any other room around the world stands anymore.”