By Jess Dankenbring, ’17

The word vagina — and its varied pseudonyms — is not an everyday word for most people. But The Vagina Monologues attempts to reclaim these words as an ingrained part of our everyday lives. The play aims to empower women and girls and end the violence against them.

“I saw it my freshman year,” Maggie McGrann, ’14, says. “I was really uncomfortable sitting at the show hearing so many women say it over and over again, but by the end, I felt OK with the fact that it was out there in public. Really, it made me feel like I could be the owner of my body publicly because vaginas and being a woman in general isn’t a powerful position to hold in our society. It’s a paradigm that’s very gradually shifting.”

This year, McGrann was the director and producer of The Vagina Monologues. The cast consisted of 32 women, ranging from theatre majors to WILL program participants. Alessa Garland-Smith, ’14, is an international studies major with a double minor in French and WGSS who performed in The Vagina Monologues for the first time this year.

“Hearing about the different stories of women who either had faced some kind of domestic violence or women who were just in love with their bodies is what got me into it,” Garland-Smith says. “Just seeing the way everything was performed, listening to the different monologues and how they were presented to the audience, captured me. I fell in love with the idea of just talking about your body and vagina and being happy about that.”

The show covers a wide range of issues, from hair and orgasms to rape and molestation. The variety of monologues shows all aspects of the female experience through different voices on stage.

“I hope that people take away the positivity that is inherent in listening to other people’s stories and embracing them wholly despite their difference from you,” McGrann says. “And I agree with all the messages that are in it, but my main one is that giving people a chance to speak and really listening is such a powerful action and so easy to do when you really try.”

The show brings important stories and messages to a college campus, where young men and women are discovering themselves and their sexuality. Amelia Mitrotz, ’16, auditioned on a whim for this year’s production and hopes that audiences will take away the acceptance that the show grants women.

“Accept yourself and accept your sexuality and the way you feel about things,” Mitrotz says. “Accept being a woman in every sense of the word and never be ashamed of it. I think women still have a lot of shame about being sexual or being true to themselves, and after this experience, I don’t think that we have anything to be ashamed of.”