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ISSUE 118 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/25/2005

Visions of Venus: V-Week empowers females

By Clare Kennedy
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 25, 2005

This week St. Olaf joined the international "V-day" campaign to end violence against women and girls by celebrating with a host of events. The main part of the celebration will be the third annual staging of "The Vagina Monologues," a play by Eve Ensler, which will be performed this weekend, February 25-27, under the sponsorship of the Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN) and the V-Day Committee. V-week includes presentations, discussions, films and performances dealing with women’s issues, as well as an art show that is on display in the Crossroads of Buntrock Commons.

The aim of the campaign is to encourage awareness about the sexual and physical violence that continues to injure women and to extend hope and camaraderie to victims.

"We will work as long as it takes. We will not stop until the violence stops. V-Day is a fierce, wild, unstoppable movement and community," April Carlson '05, President of SARN and director of "The Vagina Monologues," said.

Ninety percent of the proceeds from "The Vagina Monologues" will be donated to the United Nations International Women’s Development Fund (UNIFEM). "We wanted to make the focus global, so we are donating the proceeds to UNIFEM, a fund of the United Nations created to help women all over the world," Carlson said.

The other 10 percent will be going to the V-Day parent organization in New York and its spotlight campaign, which focused on women in Iraq this year.

Though the first event – the Vagina Soiree in Larson Coffee House, with St. Olaf’s improvisational group, Scared Scriptless – took place Feb. 19, V-Week officially began on Feb. 21. Monday, the first day of V-week, included Survivor T-Shirt Making in the SARN Office and a Wellness Center Program led by Tasha Brua '06 entitled, "Sexual Violence: Facts and True Stories."

Feb. 22 began with a chapel talk given by V-Week coordinator Carolyn Albert ‘05 entitled, "Women Hold Up Half the Sky." The speech was accompanied by an improvisational dance to music by pianist Sam Lee ‘05 and a community art installation.

Participants in the art installation were asked to write a brief tribute to the female gender on blue strips of fabric which were then hung up and can be seen in the breezeway between Buntrock and Boe Chapel.

Later that evening, about 30 students attended a presentation and discussion hosted by Anne Sabo, assistant professor of Norwegian, and other faculty members called, "Reconsidering Pornography" in Trollhaugen Dining Room. The talk dealt with how pornography might be reenvisioned to empower female sexuality.

The sole event on Feb. 23, sponsored by Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever (GLOW), was the movie "Venus of Mars," which was followed by a discussion in Viking Theater.

The events on Feb. 24 shed light on some global issues with "Women of Afghanistan," a Wellness Center Program lead by Natalie Rigelman ‘06 in Buntrock room 144 at 8 p.m. and a movie in Viking at 9 p.m. called "Until the Violence Stops," followed by a discussion led by Feminists for Change.

On Feb. 25 the celebration will reach its apex; the evening is the opening night for both the "Second Skin" Improv Dance show at 7:30 p.m. and the centerpiece of V-week, “The Vagina Monologues,” at 9 p.m.; both are to be held in Dittmann Studio 1. In addition, there will be a V-Day Party on second floor Dittmann between shows.

Feb. 25 is also designated “Short Skirt Day.”

Both Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, performances of "The Vagina Monologues" will start at 3:30 p.m. and will be followed by post-show discussions from 6-7:30 p.m. in Valhalla Dining Room.

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