‘Vagina Monologues’ empowers and celebrates women

On Feb. 5 and 6, the Gender and Sexuality Center at Oakland University hosted the annual “Vagina Monologues” in Dodge Hall.

Outside of the lecture room a sign hung warning attendees.

“This play contains explicit descriptions of rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse and other forms of sexual violence,” the sign read.

The word vagina seems to terrify people across the globe. The performance addressed this in its introduction.

Student performers mentioned that not only are vaginas never talked about, they are not even referenced by what they are.

“Some of the monologues are based on one woman’s story,” one performer said. “Some of the monologues are based on several women’s stories surrounding the same theme and, a few times, a good idea became an outrageous one.”

18 different monologues were read by a total of 10 performers who were selected by the Gender and Sexuality Center.  The performances covered topics such as reclaiming derogatory words for vagina, lesbian relationships and touchy subjects such as female genital mutilation.

The audience responded well to the monologues. Viewers laughed at parts that were supposed to be humorous and gave audible gasps during more shocking ones.

The performers were given instruction from Lynnae Lehfeldt, an assistant professor of theatre. She gave performers vocal guidance and performance training in preparation for the two-night performance.

Outside of the performance, volunteers sold “The She Book” by Michelle Myers which one of the volunteers described as being “a book of feminist poetry”.

The book was five dollars. Tickets were $15 at the door, and attendees could purchase chocolate vagina lollipops for two dollars, courtesy of La Mia Dolci.

Grace Wojcik, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center and one of the cosponsors of the event, said that the chocolate shop gave the performance the lollipops at cost of production which aided in the performance reaching their goal.

“The attendants are telling me we hit our goal from last year, which was two thousand dollars,” Wojcik told the crowd at the end of the performance.

Julie Flatau and Kim Willett were to be ASL interpreters for the performance, but were unable to attend the performance Saturday night, leading to the call to allow refunds for those looking forward to having an ASL interpreter.

Upon leaving, students could donate or purchase the remaining lollipops and books.

The Vagina Monologues were part of Women’s History Month which is celebrated starting Mar. 2 on Oakland’s campus. Upcoming programs include a kickoff reception, nonpartisan Campaign Training for Women and the 32nd annual Women and Gender Studies Film Festival presentation.

The performance was also a part of V-Day, an event put on around the country in remembrance of victims of sexual violence. Wojcik thanked audience members who may have been victims of sexual violence themselves.

All profits from the night went to two local charities. These charities were HAVEN, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization and Oakland County’s only comprehensive program for victims of domestic abuse, and Turning Point, the only shelter in Macomb county for victims of domestic violence.