By Jackie Cannon, News Editor
On Feb. 14 and 15, The College of the Holy Cross’ Women’s Forum put on their annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” in the Hogan Ballroom. The show focused on the unique experiences of over 200 women that were originally interviewed by the author, Eve Ensler, and explored issues ranging from sexual identity, to first periods, to rape.
“Not a lot of people are as educated as they could be on issues relating to gender and sexuality,” said Women’s Forum co-president, Mithra Salmassi ’19. “I think it’s really important to have an event like this at this school.” The goal of “The Monologues” is to raise awareness and begin a discussion on these issues.
“The Monologues” have been performed at Holy Cross most years since the early 2000’s. When originally performed, the College faced a lot of backlash, particularly from alumni, who felt that the nature of the show was too vulgar and crude to be put on at a Catholic school, according to Elizabeth Walker’s article “A Dialogue on the Monologues” in the Spring 2002 edition of the Holy Cross magazine. However, Salmassi stated that resistance seems to have died down in the past few years, and “that speaks to people’s evolving mindset in terms of accepting gender issues.”
First performed in 1994, “The Vagina Monologues” have become a way for women to express themselves nationwide. The show was compiled of scenes focused on specific and diverse issues women faced, including a 72-year-old woman who’d never looked “down there,” a Bosnian woman who was raped and tortured by soldiers, and many transgender women struggling to find acceptance with themselves and their communities.
The performance itself was varied and included plenty of moments that had the audience hysterically laughing or clapping in enthusiastic support, such as Emily Breakell’s ’17 demonstrations of the different types of sexual moaning, or Lizzie Flynn’s ’19 angry declaration that her short skirt is not an invitation for rape.
Additionally, the performance includes an anonymous testimonial from a Holy Cross student each year. This year’s monologue, performed by Amanda Gibson ’17, was about coming out of the closet, both in terms of sexuality and, more broadly, in terms of having those hard conversations. The writer posed the question to the audience: “Is there a light in your life that helps you find your way out of the closet?”
“The Vagina Monologues” provide a unique experience for many who are either involved with or who go to see the performance. Asmani Adhav ’17, co-director of “The Monologues” who has been involved with the productions for three years, said that “‘The Vagina Monologues’ give me a sense of empowerment. They reassures me that every woman’s stories are unique, beautiful, heartbreaking, and worthy of mention––including my own.”
Furthermore, Adhav discussed how “The Monologues” address each of the co-curricular cornerstones by allowing students to reflect on their own experiences with gender, take a break and relax, engage with the community, and celebrate the diversity of the women who contributed their stories. Additionally, donations were accepted to go to the Daybreak Shelter for women in Worcester.
Ali Riddell ’19, who went to see the show, admitted that she was hesitant and uncomfortable with the whole idea at first, but she said that as time went on, “I felt more comfortable as the stories went on and I understood what was going on, and I think that that was the ultimate outcome that they were trying to achieve”
The annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues” at Holy Cross is an experience where no topic is off-limits, and people of all gender identities are told that it’s okay to love themselves and their bodies. The show concluded with a simple yet powerful message: “So go ahead. Love.”