Last Saturday, V-Day Purdue presented a benefit showing of The Vagina Monologues. Written by award-winning playwright Eve Ensler, the play places a spotlight on the voices of a diverse group of women. From a Bosnian survivor of rape to a six-year old girl, The Vagina Monologues covers a wide breadth of female experience.

The monologues were performed as a part of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women. Benefit showings of The Vagina Monologues are organized to raise money to support groups working to end violence and serve survivors and their families. The proceeds from V-Day Purdue鈥檚 showing will be donated to Greater Lafayette YWCA鈥檚 Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program. Together, V-Day organizers around the world have raised over $100 million to date.

Purdue students Grace Steward and Kellie Hageman organized this year鈥檚 events. Both did an incredible job putting the show together and found the experience to be very meaningful. 鈥淭his show holds a very special place in my heart鈥, explains Hageman, 鈥渂ecause it tells the stories of so many different women with the dignity and respect they deserve. As the assistant director, it was an honor to work alongside Grace Steward, our director, and this amazing cast of beautiful and talented women to give all the women in the show a unique and empowered voice鈥.

This theme of shining a light on women鈥檚 stories also resonated with Steward. 鈥淲hen I first saw The Vagina Monologues at the University of Pittsburgh a few years ago, it really changed my perspective鈥, she said. 鈥淢any of the monologues performed that night have not left me, and it made me less afraid to be vocal about women鈥檚 issues, especially those related to sexual double standards and violence鈥. Steward also found working with fellow Purdue students especially rewarding. 鈥淚 wanted to share this play with Purdue University, and benefit the community here, and I had the help of a wonderful and talented group of young women to do so鈥.

All of the monologues were performed by female cast members, many as a solo but some as a group. 鈥淲orking with an all-female cast was a really special experience鈥, said Steward. 鈥淚n theater arts, it can be really hard to find plays that develop strong female characters with multidimensional characteristics鈥. The play was also important for building a sense of community for Steward who said, 鈥淚 think we found some sisterhood on campus that, at least in the STEM fields where most of us major, is really hard to find鈥.
The show received significant support. 鈥淚t was also really encouraging to see the great number of people who came out to support the cause鈥, said Hageman. 鈥淚 could not be happier with the show we were able to put on鈥. 鈥淲e ended up raising $465 for the YWCA鈥檚 program鈥, said Steward. 鈥淚鈥檓 really glad to know that it will make a difference in other women鈥檚 lives鈥.

Works of art like The Vagina Monologues are incredibly important for dealing women鈥檚 issues today. Last year, the West Lafayette Police reported 19 domestic battery arrests, 1 child exploitation arrest, 11 rape by force cases, and 12 cases of sexual offense. These problems are close to home and it is imperative that groups like V-Day Purdue take measures to fight them.