'Vagina Monologues' bring acceptance
Participants in “The Vagina Monologues” discuss their upcoming performances this weekend.
They are one billion strong.
Despite coming from various backgrounds, the students and faculty involved with “The Vagina Monologues” have come together to accomplish the production’s mission: ending domestic and sexual violence against women.
Emily Syrja, a co-director of “The Vagina Monologues,” said the violence addressed in the show has become commonplace in society.
“There are a lot of aspects of the college experience that normalize sexual assault and domestic violence,” Syrja said. “One of the main ways this happens is pretending that, in instances of sexual assault, there’s some way they can be ambiguous, which isn’t true.”
Astrophysics senior Becca Robinson, right, and psychology senior Jessica Sturm, left, laugh during one of the performances of a rehearsal of "The Vagina Monologues" on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in the Williams Great Hall. The play will be performed at Wharton Center the Feb. 8 and 9. Danyelle Morrow/The State News
“The Vagina Monologues” tackle various issues associated with growing into womanhood, such as sexual identity and relationships. This year, 90 percent of the proceeds will go to MSU Safe Place, an organization geared toward providing counseling and shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Holly Rosen, the director of MSU Safe Place, said the show combines comedy and emotional issues for a powerful experience.
“It’s entertaining, it’s controversial,” Rosen said. “It does a good job of bringing different topics into the mainstream in an entertaining way.”
Shari Murgittroyd, the group’s adviser, said she wants the crowd to gain the knowledge to combat violence in their own lives and the lives of others.
“I want them to take away an understanding of how prevalent sexual violence is, how resilient survivors are and what local resources are available for them,” Murgittroyd said.
Healing and awakening
For some, like co-director Kim Kaiser, seeing the show sparked a healing process. After going through an abusive relationship, she said the show encouraged her to speak openly about her experience and embrace her sexual identity.
“When I came to college, I thought my healing process was done — but then I got here, and I realized how vulnerable I really was,” Kaiser said. “After seeing the show for the first time was when I started to come out to my friends and family and finding established people.”
English senior Jazmen Moore said the event made her realize the stigmas society places on women.
“There’s still so much surrounding us as women and our growing experience that has been made taboo, and it’s as simple as saying the word ‘vagina,’” Moore said. “What have we been socialized into that makes us so afraid and disgusted with ourselves?”
Syrja said the event helped her come to terms with the college experience in terms of growth.
“When a lot of us first arrive at college, that’s when we really come into who we are as women, and not always in the most positive way,” she said. “It can be helpful to a lot of us in a college environment who feel like we’re not being heard.”
Continued from the print edition of The State News.
Over the course of rehearsing, each participant became attached to their own monologue in some way.
For Syrja, her first monologue, where she portrays a 6-year-old girl, hit close to home.
“For me, it ended up being a whole journey in accepting the sexual violence that I experienced as a child,” she said. “It was a really nice reminder for me that even though I’ve been through a lot … at the core of me, there’s still a happy little girl who wants to get up on stage.”
At the end of the show, cast members ask the audience to stand if they have been affected by domestic violence. Murgittroyd said the resonance of the action combined with the comedy within the production make the show worth coming back to.
“I think laughter helps every one heal,” she said, “It’s very healing to go to ‘The Vagina Monologues and laugh.’”