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ISSUE 119 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/3/2006

V-Week events change focus

By Stephanie Soucheray
Variety Editor

Friday, March 3, 2006

Last week, St. Olaf College saw the annual celebration of all things woman: V-Week. Focused around the school’s fourth production of Eve Ensler’s "The Vagina Monologues," V-Week was a campus-wide celebration and awareness campaign that sought to raise campus consciousness on many topics, focused on ending violence against women.

Sarah Burgin ’06 was one of four co-directors of V-Week this year

"We wanted to switch the focus of V-Week this year," Burgin said. "Instead of completely celebrating sexuality, with t-shirts that say for instance, ‘Think Inside My Box,’ we wanted to return back to the original message of V-Week which is ending violence against women."

Last year, the Manitou Messenger played host to a bit of V-Week backlash after the celebration included a "Short Skirt Day" based on one monologue, "My Short Skirt."

Some female students felt it was derogatory and foolish to promote what they saw as the objectification of women’s bodies during a week that was supposed to empower females.

Emily Dahl ’06, another co-director of the "Vagina Monologues" encouraged a re-focus of V-Week’s efforts this year.

"In years past the emphasis has been more about the fun, 'safer' sex side of things," Dahl said. "It has been said a million times – sex sells – and unfortunately, especially on college campuses, we can get wrapped up in that because women's sexuality is still somewhat private."

To focus on the less sensational aspects of V-Week, the directors brought a variety of events to campus.

A poetry slam, "The Loudest Form of Silence: What It’s Like to Be a Woman of Color," featured poetry performed by female students of color.

Feminists for Change presented a discussion with a midwife in the Gold Ballroom.

V-Week also co-hosted some events, like a screening of the film "If These Walls Could Talk, Part 2" with the student organizations including Gay, Lesbian Or Whatever (GLOW!).

The biggest change to this year’s production was Sunday night’s "The St. Olaf Vagina Monologues," which featured poetry, prose and music written by students and alumna. This performance was another attempt to revamp V-Week and bring the focus back on empowering all women.

"I wanted to present real women talking about real experiences, to show that women's issues are alive and need attention, even here at St. Olaf," Dahl said.

The aim of "The St. Olaf’s Vagina Monologues" was to also draw a fresh audience to the performance.

Unlike years past, Burgin did not want people to come to the shows and "just pay attention to the more fun or light-hearted pieces."

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