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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Vagina: Not just another ‘dirty word’

    Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Vagina Warriors rehearse the Vagina Monologues in room 100 of Social Sciences on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.
    Tim Glass
    Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat Vagina Warriors rehearse the Vagina Monologues in room 100 of Social Sciences on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.

    You hear someone scream “”vagina!”” What do you do?

    Some get bug-eyed at the mention of this taboo word, while others turn away and giggle. Some continue walking, pretending they didn’t even hear it. Embarrassed, ashamed and uncomfortable, seldom do people stop to see what’s really going on at this table on the UA Mall.

    The women typically yelling the word are the Vagina Warriors, a UA club, and they’re more than a group of feminists. Their quest is to raise money to stop violence against women and girls.

    The Warriors have been camping out on the Mall every weekday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sell t-shirts, tattoos, vagina pillows, their novelty chocolate vaginas and tickets to Eve Ensler’s “”The Vagina Monologues.””

    Members of the club and outsiders alike — undergraduates, graduates, alumni and faculty — are teaming up to put on the show. The close-knit group of women has been meeting weekly in preparation for the Feb. 18 – 20 shows in Social Sciences building, room 100.

    Vagina Warriors and the UA are combining efforts to present the award-winning benefit production, yet it isn’t your typical play. Many people know very little about the production and what it stands for.

    “”The play uses different stories from different women around the world,”” said Caroline Duff, a communication senior and an emcee in the play. “”It shows how we can all relate to them.””

    Kaylene Torregrossa, a theatre arts and gender and women’s studies senior, is the president of Vagina Warriors and this year’s director of “”The Vagina Monologues.”” She has been affiliated with the production since 2006.

    Torregrossa said the show has really given her more direction in life.

    “”It’s really gotten me passionate and more aware of what’s around me and what anyone can do no matter where they live, or if they’re in a privileged position or not, to help others and help themselves,”” Torregrossa said.

    “”The Vagina Monologues”” exemplifies women learning to love themselves. The word “”vagina”” is typically considered a dirty word, and this play aims to change this negative light shed on women’s anatomy. Female empowerment and embodying your individuality are recurring themes in the Monologues.

    “”(Vagina) can mean good things, it can mean bad things. But I think over the past few years as the V-day movement has grown, it’s really started to encompass this whole ideology of awareness, of celebration of vaginas and the necessity to stop violence against women,”” Torregrossa said. “”It’s an abstract thing now, it’s not just anatomy.””

    Eve Ensler wrote the show after interviewing 200 women about their vaginas. She wanted to tell their stories. Each circumstance described in each monologue somehow relates back to the vagina — through sex, love, rape, menstruation, mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm and other circumstances.

    The subject matter and use of “”vagina”” remain the center of controversy. When Torregrossa sent an e-mail out to local feminists asking for them to nominate those they felt were worthy for the Vagina Warrior awards, one of the recipients replied to her claiming that the e-mail was “”vulgar.””

    “”While ‘vagina’ may be uncomfortable to read, say or hear, I personally believe that it is important to break the silence surrounding the word in order to stop perpetuating issues of ignorance and shame surrounding women’s bodies,”” Torregrossa replied to the e-mail.

    “”We get people like that every year,”” she said.

    The play may be an icebreaker and viewers may feel uncomfortable at times, but they are all true stories meant to be shared across the world while saving women’s lives.

    “”Come to the show even if you’re skeptical or even if it makes you uncomfortable or worried, because sometimes that’s the best experience. And I think you’ll find yourself transformed by the end of the night,”” Torregrossa said.

    This year’s process has been filmed and made into a documentary set to air before each performance. Along with each performance, the Vagina Warrior award will also be presented to an outstanding local feminist who has been helping women in the community.

    All proceeds of the show will go to the OASIS Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence and the V-Day Spotlight Cause: The Women and Girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    V-Day is an international movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of “”The Vagina Monologues.”” The movement has contributed over $70 million toward ending female–related violence.

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