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October 29, 2014

What is VagMons, Anyway?

(Here’s the website if you don’t want to read my schpeal: GO TO INFO SESSIONS IF YOU WANT TO BE INVOLVED!)

This production means the world to me. Not because it’s a chance to get on stage; in VagMons, a lot of former performers don’t consider the show until the few days before. It’s a fundraising effort, an awareness effort, a movement. I perform in VagMons because I’m not afraid of what it means to be a woman in this country, or in this world, but I recognize wholeheartedly that what it means to be a woman in this world needs to change.

Violence against women and girls is a widespread problem across the world. Human trafficking, sex crimes, abuse, domestic assault, sexual assault, rape–the list goes on. I wasn’t sure what VagMons was before I went to an Info Session, and this blog post won’t substitute as such, but if you’re too scared to go to an Info Session (see dates at the bottom of this blog post!), this should prompt you to go.

If you’re considering auditioning for the Vagina Monologues, here are some quick FAQs. Note: You do not need to be an actor. You just need to have a heart, and identify as a woman. 🙂

HERE’S A FUN FACT/QUICK BIO/SOME BACKGROUND/YAY CONTEXT:

VagMons, or “The Vagina Monologues,” are a series of monologues performed by women, inspired by women. The money collected from VagMons productions goes to local organizations that assist survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and rape. The productions also raise awareness for taboo topics, like rape, rape culture, abuse, and the stigmatism of menstruation, for example.

Eve Ensler wrote “The Vagina Monologues” and women repeatedly came to her shows and spoke to her afterwards, sharing their stories of survival with her. A survivor herself, Ensler began performing them as a one woman show. Seeing how powerful the message was, she expanded it into V-Day, with the first ensemble production of the Vagina Monologues with various celebrities and public figures. Here’s a nifty trailer about the movement:

FAQs:

Alise, I’m not an actor. I can’t do this!

I assure you, you can. If you care about women’s rights or women’s issues this will be something you’ll enjoy. VagMons is a chance to learn about yourself, the women in your community, the local philanthropies dedicating their services to survivors, and the women all around the world who continue to be affected by violence.

Is this a crazy, radical, weird feminist thing?

Pretty much? VagMons is a radical way to get people talking. It’s about raising money AND awareness. If we can stop you, for a second, even if it’s “Oh my god, she said VAGINA,” then we have done our job. And what’s wrong with the word “vagina?”

I could NEVER say “vagina” onstage!

Again, it’s not about the performance. It’s about our benefactors. We work hard with bake sales, zines, partnerships, profit shares, and other rad, cool fundraising efforts. If you like organizing events, this could be for you.

What if I just don’t want to perform?

What’s so bad about performing?! You don’t see the crowd thanks to the lights, and all of your fellow VagMons ladies are in the first two rows. We will support you! These monologues are important because they are the living testament to stories women have faced around the world. Stories of survival and suffering, hate and love, joy and heartbreak. Violence against women and girls will touch millions of people this year. V-Day is an international movement to bring those numbers down to zero, eventually. Isn’t that bigger than some stage fright? (If you have serious anxiety, by all means, listen to your body and your mind. Don’t injure yourself.)

Who are the benefactors?

As of last year, True North Shelter, L.E.A.D. Institute, and MU STARS Survivor Fund. I could be forgetting some, because smaller benefactors go and come each year, but those are usually the main three. For True North, we make up a majority of their yearly budget, so the money raised is essential to the shelter’s day-to-day operations. The L.E.A.D Institute  is a phenomenal org that specializes in counseling, crisis intervention, advocacy, and education for deaf children, families, and partners. They do amazing work, and in VagMons we learn lots of facts about how these orgs use the money we gives them, and why it’s essential we help.

Did you know that if a deaf person suffering from violence or domestic abuse seeks assistance at a traditional shelter, he/she may not be able to communicate with a translator, if the shelter even has one, because many families use their own versions of American Sign Language? They’re more likely to go back to their abuser in that case because they can’t be understood. The L.E.A.D. Institute tries to prevent that, among their other services. Those are the kinds of facts you learn in VagMons. (We also discuss myths about birth control, vaginas in general, sex, etc. It’s pretty gnarly.)

What’s the time commitment?

Generally it’s four hours every Sunday evening from auditions to show, minus winter break. We really only have like five meetings, so it’s not a crazy huge commitment.

 

Do I have to go to anything?

Yeah, new performers are required to go to an info night, and there are 2 left: one is TODAY October 29th at 12PM in the Women’s Center, in the basement of the Student Center. The second and last is tomorrow, October 30th from 5-6PM in the WC.

Please, if you’re considering auditioning, and you’re new to VagMons, come to the Info Night! We’d love to have you!! 

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