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The Vagina Monologues celebrates women, raises $740 for women’s aid shelter

Michelle McElroy stood in front of a silent crowd in the Moore Hall Kiva and said that her short skirt is not an invitation, a provocation or an indication that she wants it or gives it. It’s not a legal justification for rape — though it has been before.

The Prescott was one of 10 actors performing in “The Vagina Monologues,” a feminism-inspired show celebrating women while addressing heavier topics such as rape and sexual assault.

“My short skirt is my defiance. I will not let you make me afraid,” McElroy read. “My short skirt is not showing off. This is who I am before you made me cover it or tone it down. Get used to it.”

“The Vagina Monologues” was put on by the Students Advocating Gender Equality on Feb. 23-25. More than $700 was raised in ticket and merchandise sales, 90 percent of which will be donated to the Women’s Aid Service in Mount Pleasant and 10 percent to One Billion Rising, a campaign to end violence against women.

Wixom junior Selena Nareski said she and other members of The Organization of Women Leaders attend “The Vagina Monologues” whenever it’s brought to campus.

She said the stories feel just as powerful as the first time she attended it“There’s a negative stereotype around women and their sexuality,” said Allen Park junior Madison Rodriguez, OWLs president. 

“In this environment at (The Vagina Monologues), where everything is so out in the open, it’s very liberating. It makes everybody feel more comfortable, and breaks the stigma.”

The performance began with Jen Barnett, the director of the show, acknowledging the lack of inclusiveness in the show. The Grand Haven senior said the actors understand not all women have vaginas, and not all people with vaginas identify as women.

“Especially in the current political climate, this is such an important piece to put on,” Barnett said. “It provides a safe space for women to come and know others have gone through similar experiences and just to hear the word vagina. It’s important to open up that dialogue.”

The monologues were created from a combination of stories gathered by Eve Ensler, the creator of the show, after interviewing hundreds of women in 1996.

A benefit of “The Vagina Monologues” is that student actors are able to go on stage and “literally just say the word vagina,” Barnett said.

The word, which she says is stigmatized, is regarded as clinical instead of beautiful — an outlook the performers want to change.

“These things are important to talk about because it’s a reality most women face,” Barnett said. “For me, feminism is important because I don’t ever want to be uncomfortable saying the word vagina. I’ll say it in classes and everyone will wince and I don’t know why. It’s something a lot of people have, and you should be able to talk about that without a taboo attached.”