Victory, valentine and vagina

Many students have passed by those tables in the Davis Center advertising “The Vagina Monologues.” The people seated behind it sell ‘vagina coloring books,’ ‘pussy pops’ and, of course, tickets to this year’s production.However, there are UVM students who may be too shy to ask them, “What are ‘The Vagina Monologues’?” Others may have some idea of what it is but don’t realize its purpose, or otherwise believe that its message doesn’t apply to them.”Sometimes people think of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ as a spectacle”, Carol Spelke, this year’s “Vagina Monologues” coordinator, said. “But it’s about creating social movements among women, and not just women, but men as advocates – I think that’s a component we need a lot more of,” Spelke said.”The Vagina Monologues” is a performance of several women’s narratives from around the world related to sexual and domestic violence and the exploration of their sexuality – but told in a way that brings awareness to these issues,” Candace Taylor, Coordinator of Programming at the Women’s Center said. “Also, it empowers women and girls to love their bodies,” she said.The V-Day campaign – from which “The Vagina Monologues” started – works with women around the globe, including in the Middle East, Asia and Africa and its goal is to build movements and anti-violence networks. It has declared Valentine’s day as V-Day, a day “to celebrate women and stop the violence,” according to the campaign’s Web site. The “V” in “V-Day” stands for “Victory, Valentine, and Vagina,” the Web site said.This year, the UVM production of “The Vagina Monologues” is focusing on ending violence against women in the Congo. “There are women in our community who spoke to us about the violence they had seen in the Congo,” Spelke said. “I see this campaign as a way to support these women.”Those who are involved in “The Vagina Monologues” passionately believe it’s important to build a strong community for women.”I wanted to be able to connect with other women and to be able to participate in something so powerful,” Caitlin Winson, who is playing The Interviewer of a Six Year Old Girl, said.”The Vagina Monologues” is not about status,” Spelke said. “It’s about trying to connect people in your community. I’m trying to foster that community and people’s interest and excitement and that can be a tricky thing.”The V-Day Campaign is also trying to build that sense of community on an international level. It has, for example, opened some of the first women’s shelters in Egypt and Iraq, and sponsored workshops and conferences in Afghanistan. The V-Day Campaign has also raised over $60 million in the past 10 years.”People may feel alone or even that they know everything about something,” Taylor said. “Then you hear someone’s story and the world gets smaller. You feel less alone. That’s what ‘The Vagina Monologues’ did for me,” she said.”The Vagina Monologues” will be presented at the Royall Tyler Theater on Feb. 13, 14 and 15. Tickets before the show are $10 and $15 at the door. The proceeds go to stop violence against women.