Eastern’s Women and Gender Studies program hosted the 14th annual Vagina Monologues from February 15-17 in the O’Donnell Auditorium.
The Vagina Monologues are a series of dramatic monologues and performances based on interviews with women from around the world of all ages, races, gender identities and social classes conducted by renowned feminist and playwright Eve Ensler.
Lisa Day, director of WGS at Eastern, said the Monologues are intended to encourage and invigorate attendees.
“For the audience, the people who have never seen it before, they leave the show energized,” Day said. “They feel this uplifting sense, and a sense of responsibility for other people, especially for the most vulnerable populations.”
The most important aspect of the Monologues is to teach empathy and to teach the audience that respecting and understanding others’ experiences can change the world, Day said.
“A lot of people come to campus not even knowing they’re homophobic or sexist or racist or transphobic, and we work at conveying the intersections of diversity,” Day said.
The Vagina Monologues cover a range of topics, from laughably awkward sexual experiences to serious sexual assault. The goal with this range of stories is to inform the audience and to give them an emotional connection to the topics, Day said.
Since the beginning of President Trump’s political campaign in 2015, sexism and women’s rights have been hotly debated. Many women feel unsafe and need something like The Vagina Monologues to give them a sense of togetherness with other women, Day said
On the last day of the Monologues, four individuals were given Vagina Warrior Awards. Day, alongside director Chasity Henderson and Co-Director Kristen Feltner, chose recipients for Vagina Warrior Activist, Educator, Administrator and Community Builder.
Jessica Vaught received the award for Vagina Warrior Activist. Vaught has recently devoted her time to revitalizing Feminists for Change at EKU and advocating for Planned Parenthood.
Kelly Smith received the award for Vagina Warrior Educator. Smith is the Coordinator of Collection Services at EKU and headed Together We Will: Bluegrass, Kentucky’s chapter of the Women’s March on Washington.
Jessica Holly was unable to attend Friday night, but received the award for Vagina Warrior Administrator. Holly is a Digital Media Manager at EKU’s Department of Branding and Marketing and volunteers her freetime extensively. Recently, Holly has volunteered for the #LoveOverHate demonstration in Berea and the Women’s March on Washington.
Lauren Stapleton received the award for Vagina Warrior Community Builder. Stapleton is an Eastern alum and former director of The Vagina Monologues. One of Stapleton’s nominators said that “she is unfailing in her dedication to The Vagina Monologues and all it represents.”
All proceeds from the show, from ticket sales and merchandise, went to charity. Of the proceeds, 10 percent went to the V-Day Foundation, 45 percent to Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center and 45 percent to Hopes Wings.