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ISSUE 120 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/23/2007

Monologues Move

By Kirstin Fawcett
Staff Writer

Friday, February 23, 2007

“The Vagina Monologues” writer Eve Ensler never dreamt that her one-woman act, based on intimate interviews conducted with over 200 females, would spark a yearly global movement dedicated to eradicating the suffering of abused women. St. Olaf’s annual V-Week brings the issues in “The Vagina Monologues” to campus and involves many students in the week’s events.

V-Day, an annual global movement started by Ensler in 1998, aims to end brutality against girls and women everywhere through holding benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues in February and March. Proceeds from ticket sales are donated to local women’s shelters and anti-violence groups, which use the money to create safe havens for abuse victims and to fund campaigns against the maltreatment of women. In St. Olaf’s case, 90 percent of the proceeds will go to Rice County’s HOPE Center, an advocacy group for victims of intimate violence and child abuse.

Meghan Hein ‘07, producer of this year’s V-Day, is both moved and amazed by the universality of the event. “I have a lot of faith in V-Day and its mission,” Hein said. She appreciates that the week raises money for many organizations which work to end violence against women. “It addresses both the global and local aspects of these atrocities,” she said.

Many members of the St. Olaf community have invested themselves in making the week successful. “Many of us have been working since the end of November to organize this week,” Hein said. “V-Week is the result of a lot of dedicated and passionate people working together.”

St. Olaf has dedicated an entire week towards garnering funds, attention and commitment for their cause. This week, dubbed V-Week, kicked off Sunday. The first V-Week event consisted of a showing of the Abby Epstein documentary

“Until the Violence Stops,” which chronicles the inception and escalation of the V-Day movement.

The week included many discussion groups and panels. While the overriding theme of V-Week is female sexuality, the first dialogue of the week addressed the subject “Sexuality and Spirituality at St. Olaf.” The conversation took place Monday evening. During this time, both men and women sat down at round tables to exchange discourse about their own views on the relationship between spirituality and sexuality.

The second discussion group of the week, “Women in Conflict Zones,” led by Amnesty International, focused on a discussion of human rights, highlighting regions of the world where women are subjected to cruelty and unfair treatment by warring factions and oppressive governments. Amnesty International concluded its speech by listing ways that St. Olaf students can become activists for women in conflicted countries.

Students could blow off beginning-of-the-semester steam by visiting Ytterboe Lounge Wednesday, for a self-defense event hosted by the Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN) and the Wellness Center. Pat O’Neill, a self-defense expert, instructed attendants on various ways to fight off potential attackers.

To lighten the somber subject of V-Week’s performances and featured discussion panels, a Vagina Carnival, featuring an array of vagina games, trivia and prizes, was held in the Pause on Thursday during Community Time. Earlier this month, the event was moved from its original location, Buntrock Commons, prompted by student concerns.

“The Carnival is a very slippery slope,” said Tim Schroer, director of Buntrock Commons. “Where do you draw the line?” After receiving several e-mails from students about the propriety of the event being held in the Crossroads, he and other members of administration met with V-Week organizers to find an alternate course of action. “Hopefully the result was increased dialogue,” he said. “We can use this as a catalyst to address guidelines for art. We can think down the road.”

The amount of traffic flowing through Buntrock Commons each day, especially during Community Time, needed to be taken into account. “The whole focus was on the appropriateness of space,” Schroer said. “We need to look at the sensitivity of the extremely public nature of the Crossroads.”

Contrary to popular opinion, the only event moved was the Carnival, according to Schroer. “Things are appropriate where they are now,” he said. After the event was moved, he received multiple e-mails from students, supporting the move in a ratio of two to one.

Ending the week will be V-Week’s various performances, which began with “The Loudest Form of Silence: Women of Color Speak Out” Thursday. This performance showed V-Week’s true spirit of unity, as multicultural women from both St. Olaf and Carleton united onstage to share their own views on ethnicity, femininity and sexuality.

Another discussion group that focuses on how to take action to end global violence against women is the “Vagina Dialogues: Talk Back,” which will start Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the Pause.

Featured performances of “The Vagina Monologues” will be held Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $5 outside Stav Hall through Friday and at the door.

Education is a main goal of the week according to Hein. “We hope to educate our community and to inspire dialogue within our community about violence, about women and about peace,” she said.

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