This past Saturday, the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point celebrated women in theatre. It first started at 5 p.m. in the Noel Fine Arts Center with the "One Woman Show" performed by Emma Kennedy, a senior acting major. This somewhat of a celebration concluded in the same theatre (Lecture Hall 221) with the "The Vagina Monologues."
After taking a women’s studies course, Kennedy grew a passion for women’s issues that are commonly swept under the rug. Because of this, she has experienced people being a little turned off by the word "feminism."
"The problem with feminism is that some people hear the word and immediately shut down and they aren’t interested; with a show, they have to listen," Kennedy said.
In addition to captivating people’s attention, Kennedy shared with me how she strategically picked certain monologues to help her express how she felt about issues like street harassment, the attack on pro-choice and how being a feminist does not mean you hate men.
She knew that each monologue would have to have its own significance but also compliment the piece as a whole. She began to tell me about her journey of deciding which monologues would fit best as she reminisces on the process.
"I probably looked through literally AT LEAST 100 plays … Especially through plays written by women because they are usually more sympathetic to women’s issues. I knew what issues were important to me, so I picked monologues to reflect that," Kennedy emphasized.
Though it is hard to change the world, Kennedy found it most rewarding that she could possibly change the way people think about an issue that may have not been on the top of society’s list; an issue that is more prevalent than not but on some level still ignored. This is evident through the words in her poem that came rushing out of her mouth like a tide from an ocean:
"I don’t hate men.
I hate the fear that comes inherent with being a woman.
The fear that is pricked into our brains like a tattoo …
1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
I know you all have at least 3 women in your life that you love,
that you would die for and die without.
So, pick one …
I don’t hate men. I hate people who can hear a statistic like that and walk out of this room unchanged …"
After speaking to Tana De Lonay, a senior sociology major, it was clear that some of the issues in "The One Woman Show" overlapped with the "Vagina Monologues." She shared with me how "The Vagina Monologues" have been being produced for about 15 years in 140 countries. It is so popular that even some celebrities have created their own versions of the monologue. De Lonay went on to mention why productions like "The Vagina Monologues" are important to society.
"We are claiming the essence of being a woman," De Lonay said.
De Lonay enlightened me on Eve Ensler, who produced the play and worked with the cast. Ensler is an activist, playwright, actress and producer of "The Vagina Monologues." The unique part of the monologues is that they weren’t just her own opinions but actual conversations she has had with women. De Lonay mentioned how there is a lot to talk about but women have sort of been mute.
"There’s a lot we don’t talk about … half the population has a vagina, so we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it," De Lonay said.
Both "The One Woman Show" and "The Vagina Monologues" bring awareness of not only women’s presence but also issues that deserved to be resolved and not ignored because they involve women.