Denton V-Day Collective gives a dose of feminism with The Vagina Monologues

On March 1 at the Black Box Theatre, the Denton V-Day Collective hosted the 20th annual Vagina Monologues, a stellar show performed by a wide variety of actors. This year’s show was directed by Claudia Hullet-Walker All proceeds go to Denton County Friends of the Family, an organization that provides services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and Turning Point Rape Crisis Center, which provides treatment for victims of violence such as bullying and sexual assault.

The Vagina Monologues was written in 1996 by Eve Ensler. There are over 20 monologues depicting matters such as sex, body image, love, rape, mutilation, masturbation, orgasm and birth. There is nothing that shows what the people in the monologues have in common; they are not a clique, they don’t meet every weekend, they never went to high school together, but what they do share is that they had all been shamed at some point into believing they are not worth who they are because of what they have between their legs.

That’s why each cast member wears a red or black rose during their performance. Some cast members wear red to show that they know someone who has experienced sexual violence, while others wear black to show that they themselves have experienced sexual violence. None of the cast members wear white to show that they never experienced or know someone who has experienced sexual violence, but that is the goal of the Vagina Monologues, to be “in a world without violence against women.”

The Vagina Monologues is not an exclusive event in Denton, but one preached around the world, benefiting globally by donating its proceeds to certain causes.

“Each monologue goes across the gambit of experience from rape to a great night with a guy,” said Claudia Hullett-Walker, director and co-producer. She’s been working with Vagina Monologues for over seven years and was glad to continue this year in Denton.

“I felt it a duty to be a part of it,” said Hullet-Walker, who believes that the communities in Denton, from local colleges to homegrown families, would enjoy watching the monologues because the issues depicted are important. Many cast members feel it’s important for Denton too.

“Denton is important to me and woman are important to me and all their different intersections and experiences,” said Carolyn Ball. “I do the Vagina Monologues because I think it’s a great way to introduce a lot of people to feminism”

Ball not only helped produce the monologues, but also acts in The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could, a monologue about traumatic events and self-healing. The monologue shows viewers that they can find healing even after the most tragic abuse.

“A lot of it’s dramatic and dark but a lot of it is very uplifting and fun as well,” Ball said. “The overall message is uplifting and we don’t have to wait for someone to come and save us, we can save ourselves. I think it’s a good time to know that it’s not just women that need to be fighting for human rights for women.”

Ball is not the only one who thinks that the Vagina Monologues are meant for more than women. Haneefa Rakeeb, who is part of the Vagina Monologues, works as a Sexual Assult Nurse Examiner for Turning Point. She believes that the monologues are an educational experience for everyone who watches the show.  She performed My Short Skirt, a monologue on what it means to wear a short skirt. Most of her speech is what she tells her patients when they feel guilt for their actions.

”It’s important because it educates not only women but men, transgender, LGBTQ,” Haneefa Rakeeb said. “I think it’s important to address that and each year there’s a new spotlight piece and this year it was on women who are incarcerated and the things they go through, the struggles and challenges. And so it’s not just a play, it’s real life and real life issues.”

While some cast members join because of the show’s cause, others join because of the joy it brought for them when they were younger.

“The Vagina Monologues is important to me because it was one of the first plays my mom ever took me to when I was fourteen,” said Rah Kalon, who brought a stellar performance in The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy, one of the last monologues in the series. “The Moaner piece was one of her favorites because she said it was so liberating for women who didn’t know they deserve to have satisfaction. So to be able to grow up and become this piece, it means everything to me.”

Every year a new monologue is introduced. This year’s new monologue covered the dissatisfaction women face while incarcerated, a piece written by Chelcee Williams.

“How dare I park in that spot for too long to give my kids in school? How dare I let the tickets build up until they book me into their library of imprisonment? -- 80% of us are mothers more bound to get mental health issues. We can write letters but we can't receive them back, we can't afford the $1.50 a minute phone call just so we can stay reform[ed].”

There are a number of reasons why the Vagina Monologues are for everyone to see. The series covers numerous issues that people, no matter what sexuality or gender, face.

Header image courtesy of Denton V-Day Collective.

Header by Kylie Phillips.