Opinion: Power to the Pussy

Lady Flower. Cooch. Muff. Beaver. Honey Pot. Poontang. Pussy. Rosebud. Snatch. Twat. Whispering Eye: all euphemisms for a certain part of the female body that nobody ever wants to mention – the vagina.

This past weekend, a group of female students at FSU put on a show to question this occurrence in society. In the Ecumenical Center, they held “The Vagina Monologues,” written by activist and playwright Eve Ensler, for the purpose of asking one question: Why is it that females’ sexuality and reproductive systems are often overshadowed and oppressed in society?

For two hours, unspoken rules about what is appropriate to discuss were continuously broken as members of the cast brought up uncomfortable subjects such as female genital mutilation, female pubic hair, female orgasms, domestic abuse, domestic rape, transgender discrimination and many others that made some of the male members of the audience hide inside their hoodies.

Sophomore Melina Bourdeau performed the first monologue as a woman discussing her ex-husband’s issue with hair – and not the ones on the top of her head. Bourdeau jumped back and forth on the stage reenacting a therapy session with her faux husband and German therapist that asked her questions about why she didn’t want to please her husband.

This monologue brought to mind the expectations of wives and sexually active women everywhere. The character in “The Vagina Monologues” had a cheating husband who claimed it was due to his wife’s refusal to shave her vagina. Yet, after she did, he continued to have an affair. The monologue explained how uncomfortable the process of shaving was for women, and how it made them feel like “talking in a baby voice.”

“Crooked Braid” was another monologue about a wife who was in an abusive relationship. Junior Amanda Bonaccorso, sophomore Alexandria Krause, freshman Marquisha Moore, sophomore May-Lynne Bautista and sophomore Kelsey Sanders performed the powerful monologue describing the wife’s struggles in her abusive marriage. She claimed to receive euphoric satisfaction out of braiding his hair crooked – and eventually cutting it off while he was sleeping – as the only revenge for him beating her.

In the end, this monologue focused on the cycle of abuse. This woman’s father-in-law, husband and son all end up beating their spouses, with her son one night calling her to claim that his own abuse of his wife was accidental. The audience was silenced at the end of the monologue before erupting in applause as the five female students yelled, “They took our men, we want them back!” while joining hands.

Some monologues weren’t entirely inappropriate, and focused on the struggles of strong women in declining neighborhoods. Sophomore Danielle Butler performed “Hey Miss Pat” from the perspective of an old woman in New Orleans who is surrounded by hopelessness and tries to give support by feeding everyone hearty food. She talks about doing whatever she can for the community after Hurricane Katrina and how she’s cooking up resistance against the oppression of her people.

All of the monologues focused on strong women who were either developing pride for their womanhood or rejoicing in the pride they already had. “The Vagina Monologues” made it clear that young women today are usually taught to suppress their femininity and keep their vagina, and their sexuality, hidden from society.

Many students who participated in “The Vagina Monologues” felt empowered after being part of such an experience.

“I think my monologue specifically targets some of the negative [connotations toward vaginas] but it turns it into a positive,” junior Olivia Milliken said.

Her monologue focused around reclaiming the word “cunt” as a positive word. During her time on stage, Milliken spelled out “cunt,” enunciating each letter and syllable explaining why it was such an amazing word.

“It really takes a word that most people see as being really negative, and it turns it into something beautiful,” said Milliken.

Sophomore Victoria Dansereau and junior Kimberly Awiszio played the part of Japanese comfort women protesting the Japanese embassy for an apology. These women were kidnapped and used to keep Japanese soldiers company beginning in the 1930s until the end of World War II.

“I feel like people view women as objects, especially in terms of sexual violence,” said Danseraeu. “They’ll feel like because you’re a woman, you should expect that to happen sometimes, but that’s not okay.”

Men and women alike left the show with a perspective on the way society treats all females. The important part of the show was to get people to think and become informed on the experiences of women that Ensler wanted to express through her play.

“There were times where I got chills and goose bumps,” said senior Kayla Murkison.  “I had to sit back and think about the issues. I didn’t see the actresses, I just saw the stories they were trying to tell.”

[Editor’s note: Melina Bourdeau is a photo editor for the Gatepost.]