This weekend, Bulldog Theater was littered with rose petals, scattered pillows and women. Fourteen women shared tales centered around the one thing that is often left unspoken. Words hit high points with laughs and moans to lulls of tears and the wrenching kind of pain felt when hearing of pain, rape and abuse. They were there to champion vaginas.
Student Activists for Gender Equality, formerly known as Students for Women’s Issues, presented “The Vagina Monologues” on three nights to full audiences. A packed theater licked chocolate vagina pops and fondled female condoms as the guests were exposed to an arsenal of hard-hitting stories.
Junior Heather Boone performed one tear-inducing monologue, “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could.”
“I wanted to challenge myself to do something I wasn’t completely comfortable with,” Boone said. “I believe that discomfort with it is powerful as well.”
Senior Randi Rumbold, co-director of “The Vagina Monologues,” said she was at first hesitant to get involved with the show her first year at Drake, but she said that she had much in common with the dedicated, engaged women.
“Nowadays, combating sexual violence against women and girls is a passion of mine, and I think it all started with that first show,” Rumbold said. “At the time, I was unaware of the scale to which gender and sexual violence has reached across the world. Now, one in three women in the world will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.”
Both halves of the show began with a performance by the all-women a cappella group, The Drake Treblemakers. Voices joined together for their second song, which was called “My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of V-Day at Drake University. V-Day is a nonprofit grass roots movement dedicated to ending violence against women around the world, created by the author of “The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler.
Ensler wrote “The Vagina Monologues” in 1996 based on interviews with more than 200 women as a way to “celebrate vaginas.”
“At first, women were reluctant to talk,” Ensler wrote. “They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn’t stop them.”
The show has been performed in 20 countries and translated in 24 languages.
The Vagina Carnival occurred every night before the show. Amidst the milling audience learning about vaginas, decorating vaginas and drinking “Orange You Glad I Have A Vagina mocktails,” ushers directed audience members inside the theater.
Senior usher Cara Pratt reflected on the diversity of the audience.
“I’m always impressed with the maturity of the men in attendance,” Pratt said.
Fellow senior usher Grady Reuler said that the monologues are always “thought-provoking.”
One of the men in attendance was vagina warrior Brian Adams-Thies, assistant professor of anthropology. The “vagina warriors” are people who help with education and activism to stop the violence against women. He was awarded with a plaque to hang proudly in his office and given a coveted “Vagina Monologues” T-shirt.
“Every time I see the show, it empowers me even though I don’t have a vagina,” Adams-Thies said. “It’s good to see the energy and excitement surrounding the show on Drake’s campus.”
Erin Meek, Drake graduate and “Vagina Monologues” performer, shared a vagina happy fact.
“There are 8,000 nerve fibers in the clitoris — twice as many as in the penis,” Meek said.
Through the silent auction, chocolate sales and admission, SAGE raised over $2,000 in part to support “Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer.” This Des Moines non-profit group offers counseling and advocacy services for sexual violence victims. L.U.N.A. partners with the Drake Legal Clinic as well as the Drake women’s studies program for prevention and education work.
Another part of the proceeds will benefit the V-Day organization. V-Day’s efforts this year are focused on areas where natural disasters have hit hard. Ten percent of the proceeds raised will reach empowering programs in the Congo, Haiti and New Orleans.
“Once the headlines die down, people tend to forget about those who are still struggling after such a disaster,” Rumbold said about this year’s spotlight monologue that focused on these areas of distress.
V-Day opened the City of Joy, a sexual assault survival camp, last year in Bukavu, Congo. The camp teaches women how to harness pain and turn it into an empowering vivacity. The City of Joy just celebrated the graduation of their first class of 42 brave women.
The lively performance ended in a simple yet important call to action. On Feb. 14, 2013, “One Billion Rising” will come to life. V-Day wants one billion people around the world to dance, organize and protest sexual violence.
Cate O’Donnell closed with a dramatic reading of “Over It,” which was written by Ensler.
“One billion women,” O’Donnell read. “The time is now. Prepare for the escalation. Today it begins, moving toward Feb. 14, 2013, when one billion women will rise to end rape because we are over it.”