Vagina Monologues and V-Day Celebrated in Vermont

All across the country, women are celebrating the empowerment of females on college campus and theaters this month. Started in 1998, V-Day, Until the Violence Stops, started as an outgrowth of the Vagina Monologues and has spread to 656 schools who will perform the monologues this year. “I think this is such an important movement on campuses around the country,” said Kelly Goudy, who was a performer at the show at UVM this past weekend. “I feel there’s a lack of empowerment in college women, and a purpose of the show is to combat domestic violence. For me, it’s a form of empowerment that women talk about things they don’t normally talk about.” The Monologues doesn’t just benefit the women in the performance. The proceeds of the performances go to local benefactors, including the UVM Women’s Center, in Anne Smith, UVM’s victim advocate and a benefactor of the show, is pleased with the show coming to both UVM last weekend and the Flynn this weekend. “I definitely think the Monologues work to help this problem of violence, it brings a special energy that I haven’t seen in people before,” said Smith. “It’s a great thing, because the audience is so diverse. You see old women, young women, men, LGBT folks, straight folks, different races, backgrounds, a very broad-based audience.” V-Day has raised over 18 million dollars to grassroots organization all over the world, including groups in Afghanistan and Kenya. The problem of violence against women, according to many, is not attacks and violence committed by strangers. “Contrary to people’s stereotypes of violence, the perpetrator is usually someone the victim knows,” said Smith. “It’s our friends, husbands, partners, boyfriends. It’s hard to get away from it. Until we start changing the way that people, especially men, are socialized and change our culture, violence won’t stop.”Trish Tchume, the Assistant Coordinator of Living/Learning, believes that most abuse against women is types other than physical. “With the number of times that I hear the words ‘pussy’ and ‘bitch’ or see women blatantly objectified on this campus, I can say with all certainty that the threat of violence most certainly exists,” said Tchume. “Programs like the Vagina Monologues actively confront these messages which have become so prevalent in our society. Does the show silence these societal messages? That might be too much to expect. But it certainly serves to turn the volume down on these messages of violence. I’ll support that.” Some feel that violence on campus doesn’t occur as often as other campus. “I don’t really think there is a super serious problem in Vermont,” said sophomore Anna Boardman. “I know of other places where it is much worse. But I think the events help out for awareness.” Tchume agrees. “Even if statistically, acts of violence against women are happening far more or far less here at UVM than on other campuses, as long as the threat of violence exists, we have a problem.” Overall, the V-Day program and the Vagina Monologues has been seen as a success across the country and in Vermont. “When we continue to work, like V-Day and Vagina Monologues has done by raising awareness of the issues and empowering women to speak, said Smith., “we can stop the silence of violence against women.”