Annual Vagina Monologues performances address female empowerment, anti-violence

The cast of this year's performances was split in two to emphasize the individuality of the monologues.

The monologues are the same, but the performances are uniquely their own.

The Vagina Monologues was performed four times at Syracuse University this year as usual. But this year there were two different casts with a total of 34 performers.

The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written in 1996 featuring a varying number of monologues about female empowerment. College students across the nation put on The Vaginas Monologues as annual benefit performances to help survivors of domestic violence and raise awareness.

Photo: Ilana Goldmeier
The cast of The Vagina Monologues wrap up its performance at Hendricks Chapel.

Money that was raised from SU’s shows, vagina lollipops and raffles will go to Vera House, Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region and the Advocacy Center at SU.

Erin Carhart, president of Students Advocacy Sexual Safety and Empowerment and co-producer of The Vagina Monologues, said she split this year’s cast because each person tells a story differently.

“We're trying to emphasize the importance of each woman's story being told, and trying to make it more individual by allowing the performers more time on stage,” Carhart said.

Carhart also performs the monologue, “What if I told you I didn't have a vagina,” a tribute to the sexual domestic violence Congolese women face.

“These women are really close to me, and I can see the stories in their eyes; it really speaks to me. My performing this monologue is me doing something for them,” Carhart said.

Laura Hollahan, a physiology junior, said the monologues inspired her to be vocal about women’s issues. The monologues help raise awareness and create a safe space for women every race, sexuality and demographic, she said. “The Vagina Monologues could help if people open themselves up to it” Hollahan said.

Arlene Lammy, an English and education sophomore, said she tries to see The Vagina Monologues every times she knows they’re being performed. This was her second time seeing them at SU.

“It’s a good example of being extreme and not being extreme,” Lammy said. “If you say anything about vaginas in front of men, they think you’re a feminist; the second women start to talk about their vaginas is so taboo, but it shouldn't be uncomfortable. You have a vagina, embrace it. It's a powerful image on stage.”

Emma Smelkinson, a sociology sophomore, performed in The Vagina Monologues. She said she thinks the monologues have such powerful potential because of the controversial topics they address. “I learned about female empowerment, self-acceptance and overcoming social-constructed boundaries that often keep minority groups in inferior roles” said Smelkinson.

Smelkinson said she was slightly embarrassed when she first received her assigned monologue because it is about a woman’s experience with her vagina and addresses topics like ejaculation.

“However, I came to realize that these words are just words. They are not shameful, and should not be considered so. Women are beautiful, sexual beings and should not be told otherwise,” she said. “These monologues let women liberate themselves, and understand that sexuality is normal.”

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