Photos by Oscar Lin.
A fun fact about myself: I love vulvas. I’m the sort of girl that will draw vulvas in the sand to review anatomy with friends and family. I have a vulva wallet and a vulva necklace. I love everything about them, from politics to art.
My love of vulvas stems from my background in Women’s Studies. I’m not a freak, just your local heterosexual sex-positive Muslim feminist preaching the gospel of the clitoris.
Needless to say, I was sitting in the audience for the Saturday showing of “The Vagina Monologues,” chocolate vulva-pop in hand, in support of my home team: the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.
“If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear? If your vagina could speak, what would it say?”
“If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear? If your vagina could speak, what would it say?” wrote Eve Ensler, the American playwright and activist.
I knew the answer because it was the third year I’d seen the play: panda pajamas and my vulva would ask directions to the nearest bookstore or library.
Many sexy sounds filled the auditorium that night — moans, groans, laughter — but the sexiest sound of all was the sound of women comfortable in their own skin.
The play centered around women’s relationships with their vaginas. Many important topics were addressed such as body image issues, sexual assault, sexual health, sexual politics, the stigma around women’s sexuality and society’s expectations of our vaginas.
According to Zakiya Becca, a junior communication arts and women’s studies major, not all Panthers welcomed the play.
“While tabling in [Graham Center], a couple girls complained about vagina props. They said they were degrading women and giving the wrong ideas to predators and men,” the actress said. “They attacked us three times until we complained to GC.”
However, the whole play is about giving women a voice about their experiences.
“One cast member, she was wearing the vagina costume, addressed them and said that the play was directed for victims, that she was a survivor of sexual assault and a psychology student and she saw nothing wrong with it,” said Becca.
“I didn’t pick it, but I got Bob. It’s actually funny because it’s actually like my life, like my boyfriend,” she said. “It’s about a woman who obviously knows about feminism, but still doesn’t love herself. Loving your body is very important, but she doesn’t do that until she finds this weirdo who helps her.”
Aradanas also commented on the negative feedback the play was getting.
“One lady said we shouldn’t perform the monologues, but this is a reality — stuff that happens. One in three women are sexually assaulted. If we tell people, educate them, it will eventually improve,” she said.
Guadalupe Juarez, an executive director of the play, said she’d like the University to take empowerment from the night.
“It goes back to body image and lack of self-confidence. If we lack that, it’s harder to be empowered,” said Juarez. “It gives women a voice. It shows them to speak your mind and be comfortable with who you are.”
Looking around the room that night, I saw different levels of comfort. Some women, like myself, were at peace with the material and laughed comfortably. Others ducked their heads in embarrassment.
Juanita Olivo, the sophomore theatre major that performed “The woman who loved to make vaginas happy,” showed the utmost confidence as she showcased different styles of pleasure moans.
I asked her if she had wanted that part specifically because I knew the sort of guts it took to perform this role. This monologue was about a lawyer turned sex worker detailing why she only worked with women and how she loved to give women pleasure. At the end, the piece requires the actress to showcase a long list of different types of moans.
“It was actually the furthest part from my mind. I wanted to be one of the group of women or perhaps ‘Because he liked to look at it,’” Olivo said.
Olivo acknowledged the difficulty of the part and said, “if in some small way I can help someone overcome small prejudices, I have to give part of me so they can also feel empowered.”
Marco Ramirez, an alumnus that attended the event, was surprised to hear people were against the monologues.
“Everybody puts penises on everything, but not vaginas. We’re generally limited to Georgia O’Keefe,” he said. “I understand if people don’t want to see it, but it’s good to talk about it. The whole point is we don’t talk about vaginas.”