The New Paltz Feminist Collective spread the word about women’s rights by hosting performances of “The Vagina Monologues” on Thursday, April 19 and Friday, April 20.
Performing “The Vagina Monologues” is an annual tradition scheduled around V-Day, a Valentine’s Day-based holiday created by Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” that lasts from February to April.
V-Day celebrates and empowers women, spreading awareness about the violence against women that occurs worldwide, performers said.
“Performing ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is still relevant because there is still violence against women and a fear of women’s sexuality,” Gabrielle Lamake, a fourth-year Women’s Studies major and performer in “The Vagina Monologues,” said. “I think that the more women are comfortable talking about sex, relationships, sexuality and violence against women, the more hopeful we can be to expect change to occur.”
The tone of the monologues ranged from funny to sad, happy to heavy, illustrating the stereotypes and struggles women face. Although this was a performance, it was supposed to feel as natural as possible so the cast did not rehearse much, Liz Rubel, a fourth-year sociology major and director of the production, said.
“We didn’t want it to look like these women were acting,” Rubel said. “It’s something more real than that. Of course this meant a lot of things were last minute, which put a lot of stress on me. At some points, I didn’t even know if it was going to happen. But everyone came together at the end and they were really passionate about it.”
The New Paltz Feminist Collective worked in conjunction with Safe Homes of Orange County, a local, domestic violence shelter. Ninety percent of all ticket sales and pre-show proceeds were donated to the organization, which helps purchase diapers, blankets and other materials for women in need.
The collective and Ensler have started preparing for next year’s V-Day. A worldwide event called “One Billion Rising” is set to take place on Feb. 14, 2013. Ensler said the event will encourage women to stop their daily activities to celebrate themselves and what they stand for, and educate the world about violence against women. The name itself derives from a statistic that out of the three billion women alive worldwide, one billion are going to be victims of domestic violence.
Above all else, the New Paltz Feminist Collective hopes to spread awareness to audience members through their rendition of “The Vagina Monologues,” Rubel said.
“Violence against women is something that happens on a daily basis, worldwide,” she said. “We also really want to empower women and make them feel a lot less ashamed of their bodies, of saying the word ‘vagina’ and to feeling pressured to be what they think men want them to be.”