V-Day Claremont Addresses Women’s Issues with Vagina Monologues

If your vagina could talk, what would it say? On April 5 and 6 at 7 p.m., activist group V-Day Claremont is hosting a 5C production of The Vagina Monologues in Scripps College’s Balch Auditorium. A cast of almost 25 women from the 5Cs will act out the famous Eve Ensler play, whose script is compiled from interviews with real women about their relationships with their vaginas.

Theresa Iker SC ’14, Monica Drietcer SC ’13, and Naomi Moser SC ’13 are jointly directing and producing the show for V-Day, a global activist movement that seeks to end violence against women and girls.

“V-Day promotes creative events like The Vagina Monologues that focus on these issues and raise money to end the violence,” Iker said. “All ticket sales from the our show will be given to Project Sister, a local organization that provides resources and support for survivors of sexual assault and violence.”

Each year, V-Day adds a new monologue to update the show, make it more current, or address a new issue. This year, the show includes a monologue about the One Billion Rising movement. Along with the monologue, V-Day requested that all performances also show a One Billion Rising video that includes problematic scenes of assault, mutilation, and rape of multicultural women. Certain actors and directors were concerned with the images this video gave off and the triggers it could produce.

“I think it is a well shot and edited piece that has a wonderful overall message about women standing up for one another. However, I think many of the images were stereotyped based on race, class, and ethnicity, which makes me uncomfortable,” Moser said.

Another issue that arose for the production was whether to include “5C orgasms” in the show. In the past, V-Day Claremont has included comedic depictions of orgasms according to each college’s stereotype. With the recent tensions over school stereotypes after the bias-related incident at Collins Dining Hall, in which a professor allegedly referred to a Pitzer College student participating in a Students for Justice in Palestine demonstration as a “cockroach,” the cast was unsure about whether they should propagate the stereotypes.

“We have had discussions with the cast and amongst ourselves to make sure we come to informed, thoughtful decisions. For both of those decisions, we created an anonymous survey for the cast to fill out, and we went with the majority opinion,” Iker said.

These surveys led to the inclusion of both the 5C orgasms and the One Billion Rising video.

“For both of these controversies, we have included questions about them in the post-show Q&A period. I really hope this leads to a productive dialogue with the 5C community,” Iker said.

The video and some monologues address serious issues that could trigger audience members.

“We have invited the Pomona Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault to come to the show. Because the show can be extremely triggering, we thought it would be useful to have trained first responders like the Advocates present to help anyone who needs to leave the show and would like help. They will not actively approach anyone, but anyone can come up to them during or after the show to receive support or resources,” Iker said.

The show has truly brought together the cast, which is composed of students from every college campus, with its raw and hilarious text.

“I’m so impressed with the cast members who started off slightly uncomfortable and now are performing their monologues proudly,” Moser said. “The Vagina Monologues just go there. They say things that make people a little uncomfortable, but through that discomfort, the cast and the audience become bonded.”

The show includes moments that run the gamut between hilarious, heartbreaking, and uplifting, hopefully promoting discussion, awareness, and entertainment among audience members.

“While there are certainly some problematic aspects of the production, such as its exclusion of queer and trans identities, I think it is an amazing way to start important conversations. I also love the way it seamlessly mixes some incredibly touching, painful stories with humor, creating an incredibly rich production,” Iker said.

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