by Karlyn Hunt, staff writer
Sophomores Danielle Landy and Arayah Larson will take the taboo out of female sexuality. Students will be sharing women’s stories of sexual violence through The Vagina Monologues, a series of soliloquies expressing experiences specific to being female-bodied. It is performed internationally every February to raise awareness about sexual assault and to raise funding for organizations working to combat violence. Landy and Larson discuss the upcoming performance at Warren Wilson, which will benefit RISE, Our VOICE, Helpmate, and Steadfast House.
What do you see as the purpose of The Vagina Monologues?
Arayah: There are three sides of it: it’s a personal exploration with other women, a huge act of educational activism and fundraising, and a piece of art that makes people think for 90 minutes. It’s about being, about standing up in front of people and telling someone else’s story. It really isn’t theater; it’s utter bravery.
Danielle: There’s so much secrecy surrounding a woman’s experience. You’re not supposed to speak about the female orgasm or having your period or anything that has to do with your reproductive system. This is an open space where you’re allowed to talk about it.
14 women were cast to perform the monologues this year. What was the audition process like?
Arayah: In casting, we tried to put people outside of their comfort zones because I think it makes the acting better and it fosters a transformation. We asked questions like “What does your vagina want?” and “What does your vagina sing?” Women said that their vaginas want milkshakes and sleep but most commonly empowerment. They sing anything from “Oops, I Did It Again” to Appalachian folk songs.
You both described participating as a part of the cast last year as a transforming experience. What was your transformation?
Arayah: I was just starting to get really loud about my feminism, and I had just come out of the closet as bi, so I tried out on a whim. I was really shy, and they gave me the monologue that involved a lot of moaning, and it forced me to be really outgoing.
Danielle: My monologue was called ‘The Vagina Workshop’, and by the end of the show I had gone through my own vagina workshop. My vagina became something more than just a body part. It became a part of my self identity. I’m a feminist, but when it comes to sex sometimes I lose my feminism, and creating that relationship with my vagina allowed me to communicate with my partner about what I needed in my relationship not just sexually, but wholly.
How do you want the campus to respond to this year’s production?
Danielle: I want this to raise awareness on this campus about women’s issues not just during that week of performances but for people to turn that awareness into activism. Equality isn’t just a word. It’s an action, and I feel like The Vagina Monologues for a lot of people can be the start of that action.
Arayah: I want everyone to bring feminism to bed. I want every woman to be comfortable with themselves and with other women and with their partners.