The Vagina Monologues

My freshman year of college I felt empowered. I had gotten myself into healthy shape (physically and mentally) and since I was in my second Women’s Studies class, with the incredible Dr. Diane Balser, I was feeling the feminine energy. So when Dr. Balser came to class and suggested we go and see the Vagina Monologues, I was ready, or so I thought, to see female energy at play.

What I discovered was how totally unprepared I was for what I saw. I went with my closest guy friend, thinking I was going to teach him something about the patriarchy. Instead, I was blown away myself. This group of women talked so openly about something that we are always told to keep quiet. They screamed words at the top of their lungs that I had only ever said at a whisper. As cliché as it sounds, I laughed, I cried, I was seduced, but mostly, I had never felt so proud to have a vagina.

I was moved to tears by the women on the stage who professed their love for their own vaginas. These women, so different and strong, each said something so powerful. It shook the very foundation of everything I had learned about in class so far. Suddenly those statistics I had studied came to life and moved onto the stage, each woman giving voice to the experience named “woman”. Each was so different, yet so in unison with one another, striking a unity that couldn’t be compromised or described. It worked perfectly. Saying such simple things as “my vagina is angry” or “my vagina wants” and have it resonate so clearly as a shared experience with every woman in the audience. I broke my gaze from the stage to look around me and noticed the beautiful oneness of the women in the audience, each enraptured, thinking about their own vagina and sexuality as one piece of a community. It felt special. It made me feel special. It made my vagina feel special.

It ended, which made me feel a type of sadness almost too much to bear. I wanted the communal space of sharing to continue. I wanted each girl in the crowd to get on stage and scream about her life, her experiences, her hardships, or her vagina. But I sat there in amazement thinking, “I’ve never wanted to be a part of something so badly.” That’s when the gravity of sexism pulled me off of my feminist Cloud Nine. “That was so dumb,” said my friend, “Can we go now?

I was crushed. I had felt this power flowing right through me and with those words he cut me out of my fantasy of vagina union. Why is it that he felt so attacked by the women’s stories that he felt the need to insult them?

It didn’t stop me from thinking about the Vagina Monologues though. Sometimes, I would look up certain pieces that had resonated with me and read them, over and over again, until I could put myself back into that headspace. I used it to propel my studies in whole new ways. I still respected the statistical way of studying feminism, where you read about overarching inequality, study the ways that social institutions work against the betterment of women, and study the history of women’s rights, but my eyes had been opened to a new way of thinking. This new view pushed me to ask questions, push me to get to know individual women and their stories, and forced me to think from the perspectives of other women.

Fast forward to my junior year; I see the event page for auditions on Facebook. I start to sweat. “I’m not as good as those women,” said my inner dialogue “I’m not as brave. I don’t have any experience. I wouldn’t get a part anyway. Okay, I clicked ‘attending’. Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? I don’t have time for this. I should change my answer to not attending. This is a bad idea. What if I get rejected? What if I embarrass myself? What if they laugh at me?… What if I get in?… Okay, I’m doing this. It’s settled.”

I didn’t tell anyone that I was going to audition. I made up some meeting so I wouldn’t have to tell them I was rejected later on. I walked to auditions at CAS. I changed my mind and started to walk back. I turned myself around. I arrived 35 minutes early so I sat in the basement trying to focus on homework and ended up still showing up to the desk early. I walked into the audition, so nervous my hands were visibly shaking, and I read the piece. Then they asked me something I wasn’t ordinarily asked to do: moan.

I left with a pit in my stomach, but I got a callback, and when I showed up, I expected the women to be tense, but that wasn’t the case. Callbacks took hours, but we didn’t even notice. Time flew by as we got started talking about women’s issues. We talked about boys, we told funny stories, confided in each other when we were nervous before we went in. The atmosphere was fantastic. I felt so comfortable.

When I got the email the next day that I had gotten in, I screamed. I was so proud. I felt like all the female Gods had blessed me: Gloria Steinem, Durga, Artemis, Michelle Obama, Hera, Tina Fey, and Beyoncé. I won’t go on and on about each and every detail of my experience so far, because trust me I could. But I want to get to the point.

Dear caring Meaghan, who deserves authenticity in every relationship; inspiring Nicole for whom I want nothing but happiness; resilient Mariah who inspires me to love myself, genuine Brittney who deserves the same loyalty she gives to others; loving Sarah whose empathy is stronger than chain links; heartwarming Zoe whose creative and shining spirit brings life to those around her; sympathetic Taylor T. who judges no one and accepts all; strong Allie who has an impeccable sense of fashion and is the best friend you could ever have on your side; clever Haley who never fails to make everyone around her feel comfortable; beautiful Lauren L. who stands up for what she believes in; incredible Mariel who is so loved by those around her; hilarious Becky who is the best listener I’ve ever met; powerful Lauren C. who doesn’t need anyone but herself to be happy; stunning Bryce who cares only about others and whose smile is beyond infectious; humble Rachel who comforts everyone around her with a passion and truly is the friend we always needed and should strive to be; supportive Becca who would do anything for the people she loves; fashionable Emily, a woman who always appreciates those around her, authentic Emma who can’t ever understand how much better she makes every one of her friends’ lives; amazing Angelica who validates each and every experience and looks incredible with a half shaven head; thoughtful Ara who is so funny, so smart, so genuine, and so strong; and Jennie, there are no words to describe how wonderful you are, I know we’ve only known each other a short time, but because of you, I can never be the same.

Thanks for accepting every funny moment, awkward moment, hilarious moment, sad moment, sweet moment, and beautiful moment we’ve shared already. I’m so looking forward to what the next couple weeks have in store. Thank you for allowing me to open up and be myself, and I want you all to know that I’ve loved seeing you do the same. You’re such a talented group of women. Know that each and every one of you is an unstoppable force. You’re powerful and genuine and accepting. This has been the most incredible project I’ve ever been a part of and I’m only halfway through.

To those reading this, the Vagina Monologues will be on the 26th and 27th of February. If you want to experience some of what I have, I can’t recommend enough to come and see the show. These women have worked hard to be able to make you feel things and recognize things about the world around you. So come and be a part of what will absolutely be one of the best nights I’ve had in college so far, and see us talk about our vaginas, the vaginas of other women, and the vagina itself. Because if you’re like us, you understand that the vagina just isn’t talked about enough. Come hear us talk about vaginas/coochies/vagines/vahines, clitorises, moaning, sex, hair, patriarchy, floods, villages, war, and triumph of the female spirit.

So let me ask you a question to get you ready: If your vagina could talk, what would it say?