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Cashing in on Vagina Monologues

March 9, 2008

As usual, I completely missed a totally bloggable holiday – yesterday was International Women’s Day. This year’s theme was “Take action to end impunity for violence against women and girls.” There are some pretty fascinating, and disgusting, factbytes at that link. Check them out if you have a chance.

Relatedly, the Vagina Monologues are coming up. Performances of the Vag Mon usually fall somewhere near International Women’s Day, and in my town the main event is next weekend. My partner is a performer (doing “I Was in the Room,” which is a little problematic because it’s about a happy pregnancy/delivery and we’re still not over our miscarriage which, admittedly, happened roughly a million years ago), and has reported her anxieties about the whole thing to me. Apparently, the director has decided that the performers are not allowed to talk to each other about their performances, and some of the casting choices may have been based on wishful thinking rather than ability. I’ll see the show regardless, but we’ll see how it goes.

As an outsider, I can’t believe some of the choices that have been made regarding this show. They are running it as a fundraiser, and I have serious problems with that. All the proceeds are going towards the Campus Women’s Centre, but the CWC seems to be taking this opportunity to cash in as much as they can. Tickets are $30 each (more expensive than anything that ever happens in this town), volunteers get to watch the dress rehearsal for free, and performers get nothing. Zero, zilch, squat. My partner and I have performed in the Vagina Monologues before, and performers have always been generously thanked, either by a free ticket for a family member, a t-shirt, or even just a cast party. Nope, the Women’s centre can’t spare a couple of bucks to thank the people who have been working for months to put this on. Also, at past Vagina Monologues, the point has been to get butts in seats, not to make money. Ticket prices were always much lower and could be negotiated if you couldn’t pay.

It just seems really unethical to make this into a fundraiser, even if the funds are going to a women’s centre. For one thing, since it’s a campus production, the organizers are not paying any royalties for the script. The script itself is a collection of dramatized real-life stories of women all around the world. These are people’s actual experiences of rape, trauma, joy, pleasure, confusion, oppression, liberation – how dare you cash in on that? Especially this particular women’s centre, this centre which refuses to take a pro-choice stance, which does not support women in their most confused and troubled time, which argues that the abortion is political issue NOT a personal one. I don’t want to pay for a goddamn ticket and support this group, but my wife is a participant and supporting her comes before making an invisible stance.

/End rant.

What do you think, though? Should the Vagina Monologues be allowed to run for a profit?

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