The movement known as V-Day began 14 years ago from the “outrageous idea that we could end violence against women.” This goal, as described above by V-Day pioneer Eve Ensler, has created a new culture celebrated at USC with the annual production of The Vagina Monologues.
According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, one in three women will face sexual or physical assault in her lifetime. For 2013, V-Day sought to emphasize that ending violence against women is a global battle with the theme One Billion Rising.
The Vagina Monologues provides an artistic medium to raise awareness about these issues of violence through camaraderie and comedy, by way of vaginas. V-Day aims to raise campus awareness within the student body concerning the problems faced by students with vaginas by engaging the campus in the show and reducing the stigma of discussion surround vaginas.
Samantha Brown, the current director of the production, said she became involved because the organization has gotten smaller since people have graduated. She believes the show to be insightful and that everyone should see it. Since USC once hosted the author of The Vagina Monologues, the goal is to revitalize the organization to its greatest period of involvement seen in 2009.
Francesca Bessey, a sophomore majoring in narrative studies and international relations, said she was drawn to her involvement with V-Day and The Vagina Monologues in an effort to exemplify how diverse the student body is and to engage issues of gender, race and sexual violence which are underrepresented at USC.
The monologues, with names like “Hair” and “My Vagina Was My Village,” range in tone from comedic to heartfelt, emotions that will be communicated by the cast of 28 students. The female-identified cast was recruited and auditioned late last semester, with directors Alexis Agolsove and Katelyn Morse matching them with particular monologues. The cast has been diligently rehearsing for the show at the Village Gate Theater.
Brown hopes that attendees will feel compelled to stand up this year and join One Billion Rising after seeing the show. The show looks not only to enlighten but also enliven in this way.
To contribute to the movement at large, V-Day at USC is supporting programs actively engaged in work against domestic violence. All of the proceeds from The Vagina Monologues will benefit V-Day USC’s nonprofit partner, A Window Between Worlds. This is a nonprofit that works to use art to combat domestic violence and facilitates the healing and empowerment of survivors through their creative expression projects.
The organization’s curriculum of renewing art has helped over 74,000 women and children since 1991. As a contribution to V-Day’s One Billion Rising effort, A Window Between Worlds developed its own project called “I Can We Can” where people create art on their palms expressing what they can do to fight, bring awareness to or overcome different forms of gender violence we encounter.
After creating their piece, people are invited to upload an image to the catalogue of images on A Window Between Worlds’ website, which functions as a compilation of action-worthy statements regarding the movement against domestic violence. People will be able to participate in this project both at The Vagina Monologues show and later in the semester on Trousdale Parkway.
Other productions of The Vagina Monologues and the movement at large have raised more than $90 million, benefited numerous community-based programs dedicated to anti-violence causes and helped to sustain shelters among other philanthropic efforts. The V-Day campaign has been acknowledged for its outstanding charitable work in publications including Worth’s 100 Best Charities and Marie Claire’s Top 10 Charities.
Despite its unique and slightly risque title, The Vagina Monologues is a production well worth seeing this Valentine’s Day weekend.