A group of local young professional women are staging a production of "The Vagina Monologues" at Artel Gallery in downtown Pensacola as part of the global V-Day movement. The “V” in V-Day stands for “Victory, Valentine and Vagina.” The movement calls for the end of violence against women and girls worldwide. The non-profit organization was founded on Valentine’s Day 1998 by Eve Ensler, the author of “The Vagina Monologues.” Ensler based the play on interviews she conducted with 200 women regarding sex, relationships, and violence against women.
Some of the monologues address serious issues, such as “Say It,” which was based on the testimonies of comfort women, women and girls who were forced into prostitution by the Empire of Japan during World War II. Other monologues are more lighthearted, such as “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy,” which will be performed by Eliza Espy.
“I think it’s very important that this monologue be part of the play because it is from the point of view of a woman who is not in any way ashamed or embarrassed by her sexuality,” Espy said.
A 2010 report from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs stated that violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon, and that rates of women experiencing physical violence at least once during their lifetime varies from several percent to 59 percent, depending on the country in which they live.
“In performing this play all over the world, on the same day, or about the same time every year, year after year, it kind of gives the message that it’s one female voice, that these are all our stories, and if this could happen to one woman, it could happen to any of us. And it sort of reminds us that we’re all in this together, and I think that that’s a really beautiful metaphor,” Espy said.
The proceeds from the play will be donated to Favor House Women’s Shelter. Jennifer Shellman is an organizer of the Pensacola production and will also perform a monologue.
“I think that’s the most awesome thing about The Vagina Monologues is it shows you that you can do grassroots activism in your own community, and you don’t need to be part of a huge organization, you don’t need a lot of money, you don’t need to be an activist professionally,” Shellman said.
The co-organizer and social media director for the event is Rachael Moore.
“Jennifer and I both consider ourselves feminists and like to be involved in things that draw attention to women’s issues and build women up, and this is a way for us to participate in a movement that’s global, but also has a direct impact on women in our community,” Moore said.
In addition to productions of "The Vagina Monologues," other events and plays such as “The Good Body,” “Emotional Creature,” and “What I Want My Words To Do To You” are staged on coordinated days in support of the V-Day Movement.
“What I’m hoping, is if we can make this event a huge success, then maybe in the future, we can get to a point where we can have V-Day Pensacola be even bigger and put on more events, more often,” Moore said.
The Pensacola performance of The Vagina Monologues will take place on Friday, February 14th at 8pm at Artel Gallery. More information is available at facebook.com/vdaypensacola.
Katya Ivanov, WUWF News