I am a tried and true introvert. Something as simple as participating in class gives me an adrenaline rush. Yet when I saw a flyer for “The Vagina Monologues,” my heart started beating from anticipation rather than anxiety. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from something with such a bold title, but I was more than curious to find out.
For those of you who don’t know, the play is a series of monologues written by Eve Ensler in 1996. Some monologues will make you laugh, some will make you cry, but they all unpack the female experience. She interviewed countless women with different backgrounds, sexual orientations and stories to compose a piece that explores what exactly it means to be a woman. And it means quite a lot of different things.
Despite my complete lack of theatre background, something kept bringing me back to the flyer. I was afraid, but I was also enthralled with the possibility of getting onstage and talking about my vagina to a room full of people. That’s when a quote by the late Carrie Fisher rang in my head: “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” For me, that is what being a woman encapsulates.
Whether it be the countless women who are running for political office for the first time, or the resilient gymnasts speaking out against Larry Nassar, or something as simple as auditioning for “The Vagina Monologues,” there is power in doing something that scares you. These women running for office know that the odds are stacked against them, especially in the realm of politics, but that is merely fueling the fire. These gymnasts sharing their sexual assault experiences may be scared to relive their trauma, but they are raising their voices to put an end to their abuser. So yes, my involvement in “The Vagina Monologues” may have terrified me at first. I am learning how to speak loudly about womanhood, despite society’s constant expectation for us to sit idly and quietly by.
I auditioned for “Vagina Monologues” to listen to the stories and experiences of the woman who inspired the monologues, but also the women around me performing. Each of my castmates opened my eyes the nuances of what it means for us just to exist. Most people would be afraid to get on stage and expose their vulnerability, afraid to discuss what society teaches us to repress, afraid of things that are only spoken behind closed doors in hushed whispers.
Leaning into this fear, and embracing it rather than running from it, is exactly how women thrive. It is ingrained in society for women to quiet their existence. No wonder we are afraid. But it’s the action of taking that fear and letting it be a part of you, rather than letting it be what defines you.
I auditioned for this play because there needs to be a platform to discuss rape, stereotypes, and self-love. Just saying the word “vagina” out loud is scary for some. To talk about the female experience, in all its forms and nuances, is a beautiful thing. It is something to say loudly.
By embracing this fear, I gained a chance to unpack womanhood, and a whole lot of newfound confidence with a group of supportive, inspiring women with whom I perform.
So to all the ladies out there, go forward with your fear. You can be afraid. You can be confident. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Page to Stage Productions “The Vagina Monologues” will be performed on February 23rd at 6:30 p.m. at the Storrs Congregational Church Parish House and February 24th at 7:30 p.m. at the Ballard Institute and Museum for Puppetry.