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ISSUE 121 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/22/2008

V-week allows discourse for all

By Annie Ashby
Associate Editor


Friday, February 22, 2008

V-Day, internationally recognized on Feb. 14, marked an important day for lovers of valentines and vaginas at St. Olaf. A global movement to stop violence against women and girls, V-Day is celebrated at St. Olaf with a full-fledged V-Week of sexuality-related discourse.

The V-Day movement was inspired by Eve Ensler's play, "The Vagina Monologues" and was founded as a non-profit charity in 1998.

According to vday.org, the organization serves to incorporate the monologues with the message of ending violence against women. Through the V-Day campaign, St. Olaf is able to produce "The Vagina Monologues" to raise awareness, education, and funds for V-Day.

St. Olaf V-Day planner Laural Bretner '08 explains why St. Olaf takes V-Day one step further.

"Most schools only do 'the Vagina Monologues', but we do the whole week," Bretner said.

"This allows for more student involvement. V-Week is about fun and awareness: our mission is to spread information, raise money and raise awareness against violence towards women." V-Week began with a screening of documentary "Until the Violence Stops" on Sunday in the Gender and Sexuality Center. The film explained how "The Vagina Monologues" grew into V-Day from the grassroots up. Other events of the week include a vagina wellness workshop, a special men's event for ending violence, a discussion of modern feminism and V-Day, and the V-Week Carnival.

V-Week ends traditionally with St. Olaf's production of "The Vagina Monolgues" on Saturday, Feb. 23. Tickets are available at the V-Week table outside the Caf for $5.

In addition to Eve Ensler's play, St. Olaf has created their own production, entitled "The St. Olaf (vagina) Monologues," showing on Sunday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Viking Theater.

"'The St. Olaf Monologues' are an outlet to respond to the week's emotions," Bretner said. "'The Vagina Monolgues' are very powerful and have a different emotional impact on everyone. Having our own monologues allows students, male or female, to react."

V-Week at St. Olaf is put on by a group of students who collaborate once a year for this event.

Many clubs and organizations also put time and effort into making V-Week a success, namely SARN, the Gender and Sexuality Center, Feminists for Change, Students for Reproductive Health, the Art House, and the Cooperative Justice House.

This unique blend of input helps to provide a strong, supportive community for V-Week.

Co-planner Anya Galli '08 is proud of the community of supporters V-Week brings together.

"The people who support survivors of sexual assault have become a community. Future assaults are less likely to happen on this campus when survivors can be a voice of hope."

Galli believes that the St. Olaf campus has potential to become a more welcoming place to discuss sexuality and feminism.

"Despite how present sex is in our culture, it's still taboo to talk about it," Galli said. "In our generation, feminism has also gotten a bad rep. [V-Week] can be intimidating, because there's a low level of understanding of feminism. Really, anyone who supports women is a feminist."

V-week hopes to bring an open, accepting attitude towards sexuality to St. Olaf through awareness and discussion. "It's inspiring to see so much visibility for women's issues," Galli said. "There's a community of support behind us."





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