This weekend, UCSB and the Isla Vista community were lucky enough to host its own performance of the Vagina Monologues and Her Stories. The Vagina Monologues was created in 1996 by Eve Ensler and focuses on the facets of feminine life that are sometimes considered taboo to discuss in our society. The topics include (you guessed it!) vaginas, periods, feminism, lesbianism, and childbirth. Last year, Herstories became an additional segment to the show, providing an outlet for voices within the community to add their own experiences and voices to the performance.
I have never seen the Vagina Monologues and was ecstatic when I heard it was being performed here at UCSB. I was interested to see exactly what the Monologues discussed and in what fashion. I was pleasantly surprised – the show was entertaining, hilarious, instructive, and life-changing. The show does a great job of balancing the deeper, heart-wrenching skits with the lighter, funnier ones.
One of my favorite performances was “My Angry Vagina,” a monologue about the annoyances and tribulations that face vaginas on a daily basis. These included “sticking wads of cotton” up there, going to the gynecologist, and the stereotypes of vaginas smelling or needing to be cleaned. It was a heartfelt performance by student Bridget Kyeremateng about a socially conservative topic but she allowed the frustration women feel about the way societies treats their vaginas to be explained in a humorous, entertaining way. It felt like a bonding experience to be sitting amongst fellow women (and some men!) laughing about the trials of having a vagina. This is the beauty of the Monologues; it brings women together by allowing them to finally embrace and discuss their bodies without judgment.
A more serious topic Herstories explored was “Bird Poop,” written by Sheila Pollard and performed by Lauren Mercier. Although the monologue began comically with a joke about poop, it delved into the ideas of feminism and the patriarchy. The speech talked about how women are oppressed in even the smallest ways, like not being able to make a simple poop joke without scrutiny from society. It also touched on topics still close to the community’s heart – the shooting in Isla Vista last May and the controversial questions of sexism and victim blame that surrounded the tragic incident. I personally loved the Herstories segment most of all because it brought a personalized edge. The stories feel raw and real because they are written by fellow students and surround our community’s issues.
Although the Monologues faced criticism for lack of diversity and a level of misandry, I believe the performance I watched on Saturday night was filled with diverse stories, actresses, and experiences. The Vagina Monologues is not about hating men; the show represents the love women should be able to feel for their own bodies without facing judgment from society. Women should have the right to discuss tampons, periods, vaginas, and sexism without the constant criticism and societal rejection that follows. The Vagina Monologues and Herstories gives women that chance to express themselves and normalize the female embrace of the vagina!