“We treat female genitalia like they're a mysterious black box,” transgendered author Julia Serano wrote in her 2004 poem, “Deconstructive Surgery.” Her work, read by transgender activist Emilie Jackson-Edney, opened performances of The Vagina Monologues Feb. 19-21 at Boise State.
Written by Eve Ensler in 1996, The Vagina Monologues promotes female empowerment and individuality. This year’s performance marks the 10th production by the Boise State Women’s Center.
Barefoot actresses gathered on an unadorned raised platform on stage. Each wore a red scarf uniquely to symbolize V-Day, a worldwide movement every spring aimed at promoting awareness and ending violence against women. Every piece included translation by an American Sign Language interpreter, a first for this production at Boise State.
Distressing and uproarious monologues made up the two hour show. During “My Angry Vagina”, actor Haylee Huston complained about society’s view of female plumbing and routine pap smears.
“Why the flashlight all up in there like Nancy Drew?” she asked.
In a tear-jerking chance of pace, deaf performers Kelsey Swope, Davina Snow and Bekki Boslau signed “My Vagina Was My Village.” The piece conveyed tragic stories of rape experienced by women from Bosnia and Kosovo, told in the victims’ own words. The stunned silence of the audience was punctuated with audible sniffling and sobs.
Veteran VM performer Lucia Venegas related the shocking tale of a 16-year-old girl finding sexual freedom through a 24-year old female secretary in “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could.” Burt Reynolds and female arousal dominated Ann Roseman’s hilarious monologue about an older woman’s lack of experience in “The Flood.” Performers pantomimed in “Wear”, depicting what various women’s vaginas would wear. Apparently, va-jay-jay’s, like their owners, have their own unique style.
In “The Vagina Workshop”, the engaging Lizz Tucker vividly described the experience of “finding oneself” for the first time. Immediately following, Audrey Brinton delighted the audience with a “Vagina Happy Fact”: the clitoris contains 8000 nerve endings which is double the number possessed by males.
“Who needs a handgun when you have a semi-automatic?” she mused.
A hodgepodge of moans dominated the witty “The Women Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.” Other pieces explored Native American domestic abuse, Ensler’s account of the birth of her grandchild and one woman’s acceptance of herself through a man’s love of her baby-maker.
In the closer, “A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Slavery”, the captivating Verdell Brookens exposed the life of a young sex slave in the Democratic Republic of Congo where rape functions as a weapon of war. Brookens imparted a list of survival rules to combat the daily abuse.
“Rule 3: Build a hole inside yourself and climb into it,” she quavered.
The cast of over 40 women joined Brookens in her final declaration of empowerment:
“No one can take anything from you if you do not give it to them!”
While most profits from the evening benefited the Women’s Center, ten percent of the night’s proceeds aided the women of Congo. For more information on The Vagina Monologues and V-Day, visit vday.org.