By Beth Anderson, MN Valley NOW Co-President

As you know, Minnesota Valley NOW in partnership with The Chameleon Theatre Circle is presenting a production of The Vagina Monologues. This benefit production is part of the V-Day Prior Lake campaign to raise funds for the Southern Valley Alliance for Battered Women (SVABW). Many or our members and friends have not seen the production and would like to know more. Let me tell you!

The Vagina Monologues is a play about real women and their experiences being women. The play was created by Eve Ensler who interviewed women across the country about . . . yes . . . their vaginas. She compiled their stories and put them together in a series of monologues that reflects the real experiences of real women across this country and around the world. Some of the stories are not politically correct, but they are all real.

I know, why do we need to talk about our vaginas? The word itself makes us uncomfortable. As Eve Ensler writes in the introduction, ". . . it never sounds like a word you want to say. It’s a totally ridiculous, completely unsexy word." True, and many of us would rather just ignore the word, the body part, and what it represents about being women. Some might say that vaginas are not a fit topic of conversation for polite society. What happens to women because we have vaginas is also not a topic we want to discuss at the dinner table. But maybe we should, because violence against women happens everywhere, affecting one in three women worldwide.

For instance, as a neighborhood, or a family, or a group of friends, we don't want to discuss domestic violence, let alone acknowledge that it takes place in our neighborhoods. Yet, by not shedding light on the violence done to women and children in our own communities, we give power to the abusers and do nothing to prevent future abuse.

The first step in stopping violence is talking about it, acknowledging it exists, and educating ourselves and our neighbors about the problem and what can be done to solve it. According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women's 2006 Femicide Report:

  • 20 women and 12 children were murdered in Minnesota in 2006 as a result of domestic violence and child abuse. Eleven of these women lived in the seven county metro area, including Scott County.
  • 37,010 women and children in Minnesota were served by community advocacy programs for battered women in 2006 alone. In Scott and Carver County, we rely on the SVABW to do this work.

With your help, our production of The Vagina Monologues has the potential to raise thousands of dollars for the SVABW. All proceeds from the production will go to help stop domestic violence and serve victims in Scott and Carver counties.

The Vagina Monologues are a way to break the silence and encourage women to speak of their experiences as women. It helps women name the dehumanizing behaviors that reduce us to sexual objects. It helps women reclaim the word vagina and acknowledges both the wonderful and terrible experiences that can go along with having a vagina.

The play covers everything from the "new age vagina workshop", to the violence experienced by women in war, to the experience of a sex worker who pleases women, to the miracle of giving birth. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry.

The word vagina is used frequently in the play – to break the silence and censorship of a word that does, in fact, represent women. If you can't say it, you can't own it. As the young woman says at the end of the monologue titled; My Short Skirt, "My short skirt and everything under it is Mine. Mine. Mine.

Please join us for an evening of activism. Help us stop violence in our own communities. Purchase a tax-deductable ticket and bring 10 of your friends. It will be a very entertaining evening!

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