The "Vagina Monologues" is now an annual performance at St. Olaf during V-Week. It features a series of short stories collected by feminist activist and playwright Eve Ensler. Ensler interviewed hundreds of women to paint a diverse picture of women's experiences with their sexuality. The play alternated these monologues with call-and-response sections from the cast, and the narrative was sprinkled with happy and not-so-happy "vagina facts" about vibrators, female genital mutilation and female genital anatomy.
Monologues also addressed such topics as St. Olaf students' menstrual experiences, pubic hair, rape and sexual abuse, self-discovery and birth. The audience heard diverse perspectives, as the monologues shared the stories of older women, sex workers, 6-year-olds, Lakota women and homeless women, among others.
The Monologues addressed female sexuality in a unique medium that is sometimes humorous but also validating. The play calls for attention and change towards violence against women and girls.
"[The Monologues] aren't only entertainment -- we address serious issues, and we hope people will do something about what they learn," cast member Laurax Olson '08 said.
90 percent of profits from the "Vagina Monologues" were donated to the Rice County HOPE Center for battered women, and the rest went to women of New Orleans through Eve Ensler's V-Day spotlight campaign.
The "St. Olaf (vagina) Monologues" are St. Olaf students' own, personal version of the "Vagina Monologues." Fondly known as the "Ole Mons," this collection of stories was very different than its predecessor.
Performed on Sunday, Feb. 24 in Viking Theatre, "The Ole Mons" featured various modes of expression such as spoken-word poetry and personal stories. Free from the stricter rules of the "Vagina Monologues," students in the "Ole Mons" spoke from the heart about personal sexuality-related issues.
Organizer Kaitlin Sublette '08 explains why "The Ole Monologues" hit so close to home. "You may see that good friends have been through sexual abuse," Sublette said. "You realize that assault happens here, locally. Those affected can get it off their chests, and we can learn from them."
Students' monologues this year ranged from feminist readings and calls for activism to sex stories and a drag queen's search for her cultural vagina.
While many students attended both the St. Olaf and Vagina Monologues, Sublette encourages even more to be open to the experience.
"I was so scared when my mom came to the 'Vagina Monologues' last year because she never talked about sex, was big in our church and was actually kind of anti-feminist," Sublette said. "She only came because I was in it, but ended up loving it. After the show, she came up crying to congratulate every single girl in the cast. And if my mom can appreciate it, anyone can."
Olson would also love to see more students take advantage of V-Week activities.
"Just because it has the word vagina in it doesn't mean it will eat you alive," Olson said. "Give it a chance! Not everything in the world is rainbows and butterflies."