While many people may be aware of the annual production of “The Vagina Monologues,” not everyone may know about the social campaign that is responsible for the play.
The movement is known as V-Day. V-Day brings the show and hosts a variety of events to further the message of the play.
V-Day is a global campaign to bring awareness to the continuing issue of gender-based violence, said Lysa Salsbury, director of the Women’s Center. In addition to the play, hosts of the V-Day campaign — such as the University of Idaho — can choose to sponsor several different lectures, film screenings and readings to promote the movement.
“‘The Vagina Monologues’ is just one part of the V-Day campaign,” Salsbury said. “It’s the most popular and the most well-known, but there are probably 10 other different performance and readings and workshops that you can apply to do as part of the V-Day campaign. And they all focus on providing education and activism around the issues that ‘The Vagina Monologues’ addresses.”
This year, the UI Women’s Center has a new team — known as the V-Squad — to help organize and facilitate the events.
“It’s a group of students who are getting involved,” said Katie Noble, administrative assistant at the Women’s Center. “And they’re not necessarily involved in the cast of the show itself. But they’re helping us to raise awareness of what’s behind the scenes for the V-Day movement.”
The first event in the V-Day series is a teach-in at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, in the Panorama room on the fourth floor of the Idaho Commons. The Women’s Center hosts this event every year in conjunction with “The Vagina Monologues,” Salsbury said. The purpose of the teach-in is to educate the campus community on how the play was propelled into V-Day and the global activist movement it is today.
“It’s a little bit about the history of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ … about how Eve Ensler sort of came to write the play,” Salsbury said. “How that then expanded into this activist movement to raise money for these grassroots organizations around the world that are working to help end violence against women and girls.”
She said the teach-in provides people with an overall background to the evolution of the play.
“Which I think helps to enhance the experience of going to the play if you understand at a deeper level what the play is about and the goals of the play,” Salsbury said. “I think it can lead to a much more fulfilling experience when you see the play itself.”
In addition to the V-Day teach-in, Salsbury and Noble will give the same presentation in many different classes. Salsbury said the V-Squad members will be involved in co-instructing those lectures with Salsbury and Noble.
Before “The Vagina Monologues,” there will be a screening of the documentary “V-Day: Until The Violence Stops” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3, in the Borah Theater in the Student Union Building.
“(It) is a documentary that addresses how the V-Day campaign emerged from the play and spotlights several different communities that host ‘The Vagina Monologues’– some internationally, some in the U.S,” Salsbury said. “Which is really interesting, because it helps people understand how different communities can bring a different take on the performance of the play. And also (the documentary) examines the issues of violence that exist within those communities and the organizations that are benefiting from the proceeds of the play.”
Another new addition to the University of Idaho’s personal V-Day campaign is the V-Men Workshop. It is a workshop designed specifically for male identified individuals to talk honestly about issues of gender based violence from their perspective, Salsbury said. A doctoral liaison from the Counseling and Testing Center will facilitate the V-Men Workshop. The event is by registration only and will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Student Diversity Center.
“This workshop hopefully provides a venue for them to be able to explore their feelings and hopefully learn ways to become activists against gender-based violence,” Salsbury said. “The doctoral intern facilitating that workshop is very experienced in addressing issues of sexual assault and domestic violence.”
The final V-Day event — a discussion about “The Vagina Monologues” — will be held the week following the show at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 in the Whitewater Room of the Commons. Several individuals who have experience with issues the play addresses will facilitate dialogue about the show, Salsbury said.
“The (discussion) is after the show itself and it is an event to help us kind of talk about the play,” Noble said. “And the play itself has some issues, it’s very controversial in certain ways, so it’s a way for us to have an open dialogue about the movement and everything the play talks about. And talk about the changes that have happened in our society since the play was written.”
Amber Evans Pinel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org