Story by Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer
After a four-year hiatus, Murray State will present Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues this weekend in support of a global woman empowerment movement called V-Day. The return of the production has some students stirred up, especially over some of the advertising slogans.
The V-Day campaign is about stopping violence against women and bringing awareness about issues women face, such as sexual assault, domestic violence and gender roles.
The Vagina Monologues is made up of a series of interviews Ensler conducted with hundreds of women who shared their life experiences, including stories of abuse.
“A loud, proud, in your face production like the Vagina Monologues can spark a shift in peoples’ minds and change their opinions on the rights and equal/fair treatment of women,” said Paige Tobye, sophomore from Sturgis, Kentucky, who plans to attend the show.
All proceeds from the tickets and swag will go to the Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center in Paducah.
The Murray State Women’s Center is sponsoring the play. The cast and crew are selling merchandise to help promote the cause as well.
The cast are selling T-shirts, buttons and posters with what some students have described as controversial statements on them, such as T-shirts that say “I heart vaginas,” “Orgasm donor” and buttons that just have the c – word on them.
“A lot of the buttons seem like crass language for the purpose of crass language, but they are all for raising awareness and publicity for the show,” said Shelby Frye, sophomore cast member from Paris, Tennessee.
Tobye said she believes that the controversy is a good thing because it has students talking about the Vagina Monologues.
Director Jasmine Wilkerson, graduate student from Americus, Georgia, said anyone who dismisses or criticizes the show because of the name or the merchandise should attend the production.
“I think that the concept of the Vagina Monologues can make people a little uncomfortable, and sometimes, that is just what is needed,” Tobye said. “Pushing people out of their comfort zones is necessary to create change.”
V-Day was started by Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues, and was conceived to create awareness, but also to empower women everywhere.
“The monologues deal with all sorts of women’s issues, some serious stuff as well as trivial things,” Frye said. “It goes from very serious topics to more lighthearted topics pretty quickly to keep it light but still serious enough that you go away with something from it.”
Wilkerson said this production is based on real experiences and real interviews. She said these are issues women are facing today, for instance, sexual assault and discrimination.
At first glance, the production could come off as vulgar.
The language used is abrupt and the gestures are more than suggestive, but the production is based on real situations. Therefore, terminology was not chosen for a shock factor but reflects what actually happened to women. Wilkerson said these issues have been stigmatized and she is hoping this performance can help dissipate that stigma and bring light to the situations discussed.
“People don’t want to talk about it because they don’t know how to talk about it,” Wilkerson said.
The production, Wilkerson said, will have a trigger warning at the beginning of the play. She said she knows some women may be able to connect to some of the monologues on a deeper level so everyone should be aware of the contents.
Executive Director of the Merryman House Mary Foley said they serve thousands of women each year and any donation would help the organization stay operational.
“This is something that is a personal belief of mine,” Wilkerson said. “It makes me happy to be able to rebirth this show and give 100 percent to something that is bigger than me; a bigger cause.”