The Vagina Monologues at DU: A Review

To end DU’s Love, Sex, and Health Week, the DU Collegiate Council on Gender Violence Topics (CCGVT) annually sponsors two performances of The Vagina Monologues. The play originally premiered off-Broadway in 1996, and people have been performing it ever since.

The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play where we hear the stories of women and their experiences with sex, masturbation, rape, birth, female genital mutilation, sex work, and many other topics. The voices of the women are varied; we hear from women of many different ages, sexualities, and races. I saw The Vagina Monologues during last year’s production, but as I sat in my seat and waited for the show to begin, I got exciting butterflies as if I was viewing it for the first time.

I truly enjoyed many parts of The Vagina Monologues. I loved watching my fellow DU women peers reading stories from other women about topics we all think about, but are too afraid to talk about. One of the first monologues is called “Hair,” where a woman talks about shaving her vagina and her subsequent preference for hair. She told the crowd about the pain of shaving it, saying,

“Like scratching a mosquito bite. It felt like it was on fire. There were screaming red bumps. I refused to shave it again.”

ME TOO, GIRL. ME TOO. How comforting it was to hear that I’m not the only one who refuses to shave because of horrible razor burn. I could tell I wasn’t the only one who related to this story, and the camaraderie of shared experiences emanated throughout the room.

Another monologue spoke about the experiences of transgender women. At the beginning of the play, a disclaimer stated that cisgender women would be reading this monologue, but that they felt that reading trans women’s experiences was better than leaving them out altogether. Although I do agree, yes, it’s essential that we hear trans women’s experiences, I couldn’t help but feel put off as the cis women read the monologue. I, too, appreciate that they left the monologue in, but as they described the violent beatings that many trans women experience, as they described their own burning desire to have a vagina, as they described the surgical process that some of them went through to create a vagina, it didn’t feel right. I know that there are plenty of trans women on DU’s campus, and I couldn’t help but feel like that with a little more effort, actual trans women could have been invited to speak about these experiences. So much for representation.

Some monologues tackled serious topics. In the monologue entitled “My Vagina Was A Village,” a Bosnian woman talks about six men gang raping her. Sitting in that room, feeling that energy, I knew how much love and empathy was being sent out to the universe for women who have experienced such tragedies. At the end, the silence in the room hung heavy for a moment longer than normal, as if we couldn’t clap for such a story. We did clap, though, of course, and the clapping felt like a moment of solidarity.

In “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy,” a sex worker describes her experiences with making other women orgasm. She takes us on a journey by describing all the different kinds of moans she has heard– how shocking it is to be in a performance setting and to hear people violently moaning onstage. The personal, sexual moan, so public, made me feel slightly uncomfortable, but it was mostly hilarious. When she said the “Irish Catholic moan,” and one of the actresses acted out moaning while making the sign of the cross, my girlfriend burst out into laughter (I’m an Irish Catholic, and it’s all too real). Not moments later, the speaker articulated the “Jewish moan,” and I laughed at the loud moan while playfully jabbing my own Jewish girlfriend.

Whether you have a vagina, love a vagina, or just know somebody with a vagina, I would recommend The Vagina Monologues to anybody looking for an experience that is both hilarious and moving.

I know this play was written in 1996, and so it’s considered very revolutionary for it’s time, but as we continue to adapt the stories that we tell at The Vagina Monologues, I’d love to see non-binary and trans men come and speak about their own vaginas. The fact of the matter is, women aren’t the only ones with vaginas, and some women don’t have vaginas! I want to hear all the vagina stories, not just the white, cis women vagina stories.

I left The Vagina Monologues feeling renewed and energized. This play has the power to de-stigmatize our fear of vaginas and our fear of talking about them. While its debut over 20 years ago proved to be revolutionary, its topics still strike relevant chords today.