Pussy grabs back: Westminster women speak out at the Vagina Monologues

Empty chairs wait for performers to take the stage at Westminster College’s Vagina Monologues at the show’s opening night on Feb. 2. An annual tradition that helps raise money for the Rape Recovery Center, some performers said the show had more meaning this year as funding from organizations like the Violence Against Women’s Act and Planned Parenthood may be pulled. Photo courtesy Cassandra Yerkes.

Empty chairs wait for performers to take the stage at Westminster College’s Vagina Monologues at the show’s opening night on Feb. 2. An annual tradition that helps raise money for the Rape Recovery Center, some performers said the show had more meaning this year as funding from organizations like the Violence Against Women’s Act and Planned Parenthood may be pulled. Photo courtesy Cassandra Yerkes.

The Vagina Monologues provided women in the Westminster College community with a stage to share personal narratives about femininity, sexual assault and to redefine how women talk about their sex lives.

In the current political climate, Westminster students and performers said they feel that now more than ever the Vagina Monologues is necessary to provide a safe space for women to stand together in solidarity.

“With funding being pulled from VAWA (Violence Against Women's Act) and organizations like Planned Parenthood, it was particularly important for us to put on a good show and raise as much money to help the Rape Recovery Center as possible,” said Carissa Christensen, a Westminster junior and sociology major.

Performers agreed that there is value in thinking globally and acting locally when it comes to women’s issues. Sabi Lowder, a Westminster sophomore and political science and communication major, said the show’s directors are very intentional when selecting monologues to make the event intersectional and inclusive.

Courtney Gamangasso, a Westminster senior and philosophy major, said the Vagina Monologues creates a sense of community and understanding for people who have had similar experiences.

“The current administration obviously sees women and women's issues as secondary or irrelevant,” Gamangasso said. “We have a leader who blatantly disrespects and objectifies women, and we cannot allow the face of the nation to normalize misogynist beliefs.”

A few performers said their parents were either reluctant to attend the event or left at intermission because they found the dialogue too political.

Performers take the stage at Westminster College’s Vagina Monologues at the show’s opening night on Feb. 2. In the current political climate, Westminster students and performers said they feel that now more than ever the Vagina Monologues is necessary to provide a safe space for women to stand together in solidarity.

Performers take the stage at Westminster College’s Vagina Monologues at the show’s opening night on Feb. 2. In the current political climate, Westminster students and performers said they feel that now more than ever the Vagina Monologues is necessary to provide a safe space for women to stand together in solidarity.

“It’s really interesting because my dad came to the Vagina Monologues last year when I was in them, and he isn’t coming this year.” Lowder said.

Lowder said the political climate is so polarized that individuals either agree or disagree about the dialogues the Vagina Monologues creates—with no in between.

“It bothered me that my own father didn't stay for the entire show because it was ‘too political,’ but my response to him was, ‘If [his] people [Republicans] didn't try to control my vagina and make it political, he wouldn't have to hear about it,” Gamangasso said.

Christensen said she didn’t have an experience as extreme as other cast members did because her family and friend group are very supportive of what she does.

“The struggle I fight with my family is more about being uncomfortable about talking so openly about vaginas, sex, etc.,” Christensen said. “My family doesn't talk about what they don't have to, but they agree with me that the political climate is negatively affecting many groups, including women.”

Because not everyone has a support group at home, Gamangasso said the Vagina Monologues serve as an empowering and sometimes healing experience.


“You want your parents to like what you are doing,” Lowder said, “but if my dad is going to dislike me, I’m really glad that it’s for something like this.”

Updated Thursday, Feb. 9 at 2:16 PM: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly attributed a quote from Courtney Gamangasso to Sabi Lowder.