In 2000, after Georgetown’s yearly production of The Vagina Monologues, Robert Swope (COL ’01) became angry. He wasn’t the first, but his article—never published by The Hoya, who subsequently fired him—was notable for its inflammatory language. He critiqued one of the monologues for “celebrating” rape and called the audience “clap-ridden sailors in a Southeast Asian strip joint.” His review soon went viral. But his demands that the University stop supporting the production didn’t gain traction.
The Vagina Monologues, a collection of speeches about women’s dynamic relationships with their vaginas, are performed globally between Feb. 1 and Apr. 30. They were the inspiration for the V-Day movement, addressing violence against women worldwide.
Georgetown Women’s Center and “Take Back the Night”will host this year’s performance. The club’s president, Haley Maness (NHS ’15), is participating in the production for the third year in a row. “It’s hard to get people on board with that because it’s such a heavy message,” Maness said. “It’s nice that the University really backs this event… [by] giving us the space [and] funding for it.”
Though the acting isn’t of primary importance to the monologues, the actresses are emotive and their enthusiasm is radiant. There are two casts made up of about 24 members, each with her own level of experience. In fact, every actress that tries out for the play gets a part. Mollie Rodgers (COL ‘17), one director, said, “All of the girls who auditioned were cast … I’ve been amazed at how far people have come.”
The most powerful moments were those of self-discovery. One woman who hadn’t had an orgasm in years found her voice and empowerment through a Vagina Workshop. Another hadn’t looked at her vagina since she was a young girl—and then, at 72, she decided she liked talking about her “down there.”
All of the monologues are based on interviews conducted by Eve Ensler and compiled and recalibrated for the play’s purposes. The monologues are interspersed with facts about sexual assault and genital mutilation. Some of the facts are stark and shocking: three million women each year have their genitals mutilated. More than 200,000 American women are raped every year.
The contrast between these facts and the stories of self-discovery and assertions of empowerment featured in the monologues don’t detract from each other. Rather, they come together to call for the respect of women: the marginalized, the subjugated, the violated, the repressed, and the unsure. The Vagina Monologues are inspiring and powerful, and ought to be seen by all—even Robert Swope.
Feb. 6-8, 8 p.m.
Feb. 9, 2 p.m.
Devine Studio Theatre