By Joy Saha
For The Diamondback
Members of the University of Maryland community gathered Saturday evening to laugh, cry and listen to a collection of monologues celebrating women and, more importantly, vaginas.
Vagina Monologues at UMD, a student group committed to celebrating women, hosts the annual Vagina Monologues event. Nine students performed a collection of emotional, humorous and inspirational monologues on a wide range of topics, such as beauty, childbirth, sex work, motherhood, masturbation, sexual assault and rape.
The event is inspired by playwright and activist Eve Ensler’s 1996 play, The Vagina Monologues. Ensler crafted her episodic play after interviewing and engaging in intimate conversations with women about their vaginas, sexuality and sexual experiences.
“It’s really just a performance to raise awareness for the vagina [and] topics pertaining to the vagina,” said Zoe Thomas, a sophomore theater major and the current co-director of Vagina Monologues at UMD. She added not many people discuss these topics because people may see them as taboo.
The event acted like a “charity of sorts,” since the proceeds are planned to go to CARE to Stop Violence, Thomas added.
In preparation for the April 20 performance, students auditioned for the show’s directors, who assigned monologues to each student based on their voice and personality. Most of the assigned monologues came from Ensler’s collection, while others came from additional sources.
Hamir Ranade, a freshman computer science major, recited a short monologue about female beauty and ended his performance with a romantic dance. Ranade twirled and dipped his dance partner, making the audience members coo and “aww.”
“It’s about how beauty can be many things to many people,” he said. “[Beauty is] multi-dimensional. It’s not looks or anything in particular.
Playing the part of a man lusting after a woman wearing a short skirt, junior Chase Stouter first performed as an extra in a monologue about sexual assault.
Stouter, a theater major, later delivered a powerful performance of a monologue dedicated to inspirational women. His character looks to his mother as his source of strength through a rough period in his life.
“His mom is the one that has always been his inspiration for the most discipline he’s ever seen,” Stouter explained. “That’s who he has an epiphany of in the end.”
Stouter also said he enjoyed reading and performing his monologue because he could relate to it. He dramatically ended his performance by showing the audience several pictures of his own mother — his source of inspiration.
Emma Bailey, a freshman theater major, ended the night with her bold and risqué performance about a former-lawyer-turned-dominatrix.
“It’s about how she learned to love herself through teaching women how to love themselves sexually,” Bailey said.
To get herself into character, Bailey wore a black leather boudoir outfit and carried a black purse filled with an assortment of sex toys. She salaciously pulled out and yanked on a black whip, playfully shook a pair of silver handcuffs and aggressively whipped out a massive pink dildo.
Despite the monologue’s intense sexual nature, the audience was anything but uncomfortable. Ultimately an exploration of self-love and sexuality, Bailey’s performance brought about loud cheers, whistles and deep laughs.
Thomas hoped students and spectators enjoyed the performances and were able to take away a larger message.
“These topics related to the vagina, and the vagina itself, isn’t a taboo subject, and it’s not something that we should shy away from just because,” Thomas said. “There are real issues pertaining to the vagina that should be said.”