Unlike nationally-performed versions of The Vagina Monologues, OWN will largely avoid talking about sexual violence. | Aryn Sanderson/File Photo

Aryn Sanderson/Arts Reporter

“The Vagina Monologues” raised money to support V-Day, a national organization that aims to raise awareness to end violence against women and girls.

Aryn Sanderson
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A lithe young woman, blonde, in spandex shorts and a loose white T-shirt walks by me. Her running shoes hit the ground, tap-tap, tap-tap. She walks without strutting, a fast gait aimed to get her from point A (her residence hall) to point B (the Recreation Center). A college-aged man in a bright blue beanie rolls down the window to his silver car and shoves his head out the window, shouts at her: “Hey!” 

At the shock of his deep, booming voice, the young woman removes her iPod headphones and turns around.

“Which way is the gym?” he asks her, innocently enough. Having just crossed the street near the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC), she points down the steps, then motions to the left. He nods then pounds on the gas. As he zooms off, he hollers out his car window at her: “But you’d get a better workout in my bedroom this way!” The other men in his car gurgle out laughter from the back seat. Laughter bubbles out of them like water fountains, and I can hear the echoes of their cackles as they round the corner. 

The young woman puts back in her headphones and keeps walking. I turn around and continue toward the PAC to watch “The Vagina Monologues.”

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“CUNT!”

That’s right. Cunt. Audience members at “The Vagina Monologues” had plenty of opportunities to say, even shout, it. Reclaim “cunt,” the monologue said. And reclaim cunt, they did.

This past Friday — the show’s premiere — wasn’t just Valentine’s Day. It was also V-Day, a day celebrating “Victory, Valentine and Vagina.” V-Day is dedicated to increasing awareness for the fight to stop violence against women and girls worldwide.

“Vagina veterans,” or “vagina warriors” as they’re often called, know what that means at Cal Poly: The monologues have arrived. This year, the 11th annual Cal Poly performance of the play was performed Thursday through Sunday, as hosted by the Gender Equity Center (GEC).

“I found it very inspiring to women, and I really thought, as serious as it was at times, it was enjoyable,” architectural engineering freshman Nerissa Denenberg said. “Seeing them own it and not be embarrass(ed) to talk about these things made it really empowering.”

“The Vagina Monologues,” a play written by Eve Ensler, is part of a cultural movement seeking change in social attitudes towards women.

“’The Vagina Monologues’ are just one example of the way the Gender Equity Center puts forth effort to make sure gender and its effects on our lives are being talked about,” GEC graduate assistant Katherine Beglin said. “We want to make sure this conversation doesn’t stop at the end of the performance.”

All proceeds benefited V-Day’s spotlight campaign on Campus Rising for One Billion Rising for Justice, RISE, Safer and the Women’s Shelter program of San Luis Obispo.

Though assistant coordinator for the GEC Tammie Velasquez doesn’t have a final count on proceeds raised, she estimates the show generated approximately $15,000 to $20,000 to benefit the charities.

“It’s very exciting to know that we’re able to get back to the community and also provide empowerment opportunities for those involved in the show,” she said.

The show, she added, is just one of many movements working toward creating a “common bond of equity and respect for everybody.”

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