Every seat in 105 Forum was filled Friday night, leaving some to sit in the aisles and stand in the back, as this year’s production of “The Vagina Monologues” shed light on female sexuality and sexual abuse.
Sponsored by the Center for Women Students at Penn State, with donations benefiting the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, “The Vagina Monologues” is based on Eve Ensler’s interviews with hundreds of women about their experiences with relationships, sexuality and abuse.
The episodic play features monologues from women of all ages and backgrounds, detailing both the funny and inspiring joys of being a woman, and the tragic, heartbreaking terrors of sexual violence.
One such monologue was about the “comfort women” from World War II, who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military. The monologue, titled “Say It,” was an emotional expression of all that the women had experienced without receiving an official apology from the Japanese government.
While Naeisha Witcher was aware of this issue, she said the performance helped her to better understand the hardships those women endured.
“I didn’t expect it to be that powerfully acted,” Witcher (junior-psychology) said. “I was almost in tears.”
After a standing ovation for the cast, audience members who were survivors of sexual violence were asked to remain standing. When asked for those who knew someone who has been sexually abused, more than half of the audience rose to recognize the survivors.
Some students, like Carolyn Hoffmann, viewed the production as a positive step toward a universal acceptance of female sexuality and a greater understanding of women’s issues.
“I don’t really find a lot of feminists around here,” Hoffmann (junior-women’s studies) said. “The term is so stigmatized as a negative thing, and a lot of people don’t like to identify themselves as one.”
Hoffmann had never seen “The Vagina Monologues” before, and said she was glad to see so many people in the community try to learn more about women’s issues.
Stephanie Zmuda said she was glad to see so many men in the audience.
“I think everyone should make an effort to see this because it helps you feel more emotionally connected to these issues,” Zmuda (senior-communication sciences and disorders) said. “Plus, ‘feminist-y’ guys are awesome.”
Alysa Hemcher agreed, adding that she wanted her boyfriend see it the next night.
“There’s a beautiful aspect to these monologues,” Hemcher (sophomore-anthropology and French) said. “It’s deeply emotional and really values women. Everyone, especially men, should experience that.”