Buttons like this, and others, were passed out to attendees of the V-Day event in Chumash Auditorium, UU 204, Feb. 10. Photo by Sean Hanrahan – Mustang Daily

Cal Poly Women’s Programs and Services held its first V-day event to highlight the global movement to end violence against women and presented scenes from the upcoming Vagina Monologues Wednesday afternoon.

V-Day was founded in 1998 by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, the creator and star of the original Vagina Monologues. It is hosted near Valentine’s Day annually.

“The ‘V’ in V-Day stands for vagina, victory over violence and Valentine’s Day,” said Kaitlin McCormick, a student assistant at the Women’s Programs office.  “A lot of beautiful words begin with ‘V’ – voluptuous, vulva, vulnerability, volcanic.”

V-Day usually spotlights a different country each year, but for the second year the campaign has continued to focus its attention on the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some of the most vicious examples of violence against women occur.

Rape is used as a weapon of war in the Congo to torture and humiliate women and girls, according to the Web site Vday.org. Survivors often suffer in silence, fearing stigma and ostracism. In addition to the severe psychological impact, many survivors are left with genital lesions and other physical wounds, as well as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

“There is a momentum. We are creating a template for advocacy and movement building that we can apply worldwide. If we can end violence against women and girls in the DRC, we can end it everywhere,” Ensler said in V-Day’s 2009 annual report.

A lack of resources deterred a local response to support survivors, the report read.

But another, less visible issue prevails against women — society’s expectation for women to say ‘yes,’ said Christina Kaviani, assistant coordinator of Women’s Programs and Services.

Cal Poly’s event included speakers who touched on the importance of dealing with “compassion fatigue,” a common result of helping others and forgetting to care for herself, Kaviani said.

Performers of the upcoming production of Vagina Monologues spoke to the group about what it means to be in the show.

The Vagina Monologues is a set of women’s stories — including “Because he liked to look at it,” “The Flood” and “My Angry Vagina” — that relate to the vagina through sex, love, rape, menstruation, birth and orgasm. The play has been translated into more than 45 languages and performed in more than 130 countries.

In addition to education, 10 percent of the proceeds from every production of the monologues is donated to a cause of the host’s choice. Cal Poly Women’s Programs selected the North County Women’s Shelter this year.

The Cal Poly production of The Vagina Monologues will be held on Feb. 19, 20 and 21 in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center.

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1 Comment

  1. Fantastic information in your post, I saw a report on the tv the other day about this same thing and since I am going to be married next month and the timing couldn’t have been better! thanks for the info!, I have bookmarked, thanks Shane Kimrey

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