Vagina Monologues raises money, awareness

The monologues featured stories from women of different backgrounds.

The 13th annual MU Vagina Monologues was performed for a packed crowd Saturday in Jesse Auditorium. Junior Molly Gaia was one of three performers in “My Angry Vagina,” a monologue expressing the anger women feel about tampons, visits to the doctor and other annoyances in the vagina vernacular.

Gaia said the audience turnout surpassed her high expectations.

“If we didn't completely sell out, we had to have come pretty damn close,” Gaia said. “I've seen pictures of the audience, and it blew my mind. On stage you can't see everyone, which is good because I might have fainted, but the crowd was so great and responsive. Their energy pulsed through me, and I just wanted to give it back even more.”

In our society, Gaia said, a woman's sexual pleasure is taboo. She said it was liberating and empowering to get on stage and crush that standard.

“Right before I went on, I danced with my fellow Angries to get rid of the nerves,” Gaia said. “Then we strolled right up to the microphones and just gave it our all. The lights came on and blinded me, and it was so overwhelming, I felt like I might explode.”

Gaia said the reception was amazing and that many women came up to her after the show with praise. Fellow performer and junior Kristi Stringer said the positive reception didn't only come from those not dressed in red and black.

“When I was with the cast members in the front, I felt like I really knew all of the girls up there, so it felt really personal,” Stringer said. “We kind of rallied together beforehand and talked about why we were doing it, and all of our advisers gave a speech telling us how awesome we were going to be to calm our nerves.”

Performers in The Vagina Monologues had to report to Jesse Hall by 2 p.m. Saturday, five hours before the event started. All of that time was spent rehearsing, checking equipment and, according to Stringer, bonding.

“There's not a lot of times where you get to talk about all of these personal things with other people and not have any judgment,” Stringer said. “We all cared for each other. There were over 100 girls there, but I know if I walked up to any of them on any given day and needed something or just wanted to talk, they'd be open to it.”

The performances, ranging from the moaning in “The Women Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy” to Gaia's funny “My Angry Vagina” to Stringer's solemn “Not So Happy Fact,” not only created entertainment, but also raised awareness for issues like sexual violence and sexism, while raising money for beneficiaries like True North and the L.E.A.D. Institute, junior Kelsey Burns said.

“We filled Jesse at $12 to $15 a ticket and did a whole lot of fundraising,” Burns said. “We normally don't hear back about the actual amount for a while because it needs to go through the legal side, but it was definitely successful.”

After performing on stage, Gaia said that her own perception of The Vagina Monologues has changed.

“I am so excited for the future of women,” Gaia said. “I just want to spread the word and help women to feel like they can come and speak out. No one should have to be shut inside their own mind.”

Gaia said she is definitely going to perform again. But next time, she said, she wants to be a Moaner.

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