Slideshow: BeYOUtiful campaign returns to campus

Shenandoah’s BeYOUtiful campaign returned to Brandt Student Center in April to celebrate self-esteem and encourage positive thinking.

Photos by Ghadah Alotaibi, Head Photographer

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Shenandoah’s BeYOUtiful campaign returned to Brandt Student Center in April to celebrate self-esteem and encourage positive thinking.

Review: The Vagina Monologues, 2017

The Vagina Monologues was a multi-dimensional production that audience members soaked up with as much enthusiasm as the actresses themselves, which was an overflowing amount.

By Annie Hart, Reporter

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(Photo by Annie Hart)

A variety of female members of the Shenandoah community participated in the Vagina Monologues last weekend, Feb. 17-19.

Walking into Goodson Chapel, the setting was bare except for chairs, an electric piano, and a table. However, when 8 p.m. rolled around, there was a hustle of movement when red cloth was draped over the crowd as the actresses set up for their performance.

A large corkboard was rolled into the chapel with a sign that read “Women Who Desire Us.” The women whose pictures were tacked onto the board included mothers, politicians, actresses, singers and historical figures.

Candles were lit across the already placed table and on the balconies. Then, the actresses of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities began to speak. They introduced the monologues and gave way for their director, Sarah Celec, to speak.

Celec shared a deeply personal story regarding her sister’s brutal sexual attack that ultimately lead to her death. Celec and her partner are now raising her sister’s children. Celec discussed the young girl she is raising as someone who can and will stand up for the wrong that happened to her biological mother.

Celec’s story was the perfect introduction to a thought provoking, yet comical, production.

There were 17 monologues, some long and some short facts or questions. The topics ranged from positive experiences, to dark, negative ones. One monologue that caused the audience to roar with laughter is the one titled “My Angry Vagina.”

In it, the women described the many products women use to pretend they do not possess a real vagina, rather something that needs to be deodorized and closed off. It made light of the discomforts by calling the products by curse words or using different names all together. For example, a tampon was called a “wad of cotton.”

This monologue, as well as all the other comical monologues in the show, had me snorting with laughter.

On the other side, the negative or dark experiences were thought provoking but not all of them evoked the feeling of despair or self-hatred quite as well as expected. However, one negative monologue entitled “My Vagina was My Village” used lighting to create deep emotion that spread into the audience.

“My Vagina was My Village” was about women raped in foreign countries by soldiers. The lighting started off with a soft green as the actress recounted what she once believed about her vagina, calling it her home. Then, the lighting changed to red when recounting her sexual assaults. These light settings accompanied with change in mood went back and forth, causing the audience to sit on the edge of their seat waiting to hear the next tragedy that happened to this young woman. Finally, the light hazed blue over the actress as she had given up and stopped desiring to have her body as her home because it didn’t feel like home anymore.

The monologues ended with a choreographed dance number. After a minute of the actresses dancing with each other, they reached out to pull audience members onto the floor.

The Vagina Monologues was a multi-dimensional production that audience members soaked up with as much enthusiasm as the actresses themselves, which was an overflowing amount.

Upcoming Vagina Monologues expected to be a powerful show for empowering women

Female students, faculty, and staff at Shenandoah University are performing Eve Ensler’s series of monologues “The Vagina Monologues” this weekend.

By Kendall Melton, Reporter

Female students, faculty, and staff at Shenandoah University are performing Eve Ensler’s series of monologues “The Vagina Monologues” this weekend.

The show will be performed in Goodson Chapel at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The run time is 1 hour.

“Rehearsals started on January 18, the Wednesday right after winter break,” said Sarah Celec, director of The Vagina Monologues and Brandt Student Center Event Services manager and lover of worshiping arts. “The process has been hectic because it’s been short, but also fun and exciting.

“The Vagina Monologues is a series of monologues that come with some rules from the author,” said Celec. “The rules are that you have to include as many women as possible.” This year’s cast consists of 28 women of all shapes, sizes, races, religions, ages, and cultural backgrounds.

Celec said the show is about “a diverse group of women coming together to talk about something that is extremely important: happy and traumatic things that have happened to their vaginas. It brings a taboo subject to light.”

“The Vagina Monologues is about empowerment of women,” said Olivia Baker, a senior music education major. “It raises ideas and thoughts that aren’t typically shared out loud with people.”

“I’ve always been passionate about talking about vaginas,” said Celec. “We need to be in a place where we don’t need to put on a show to talk about vaginas. If continuing to produce a show like this allows women to openly talk about their vaginas, then maybe my daughter will be able to keep the five-year-old innocence that she has now when she talks about her vagina. Society teaches little girls to be ashamed of that part of their body, so my goal is to make my daughter feel powerful and strong and this can only happen if we continue to talk about it.”

Baker said, “The Vagina Monologues is such good advocacy for so many issues that don’t ever get the light of day and the women who face them. I wish more people saw this show.”

“Goodson Chapel feels like home to me,” said Celec. “It is powerful that we perform a show called the Vagina Monologues in a place that is associated with God and religion. There is such healing and wholeness in the idea that women’s vaginas are sacred and we are performing this show in a sacred place.”

This show has been officially performed at Shenandoah for two years, but each year is different, according to Celec.

“I have never cast the same person in the same piece,” she said. “There’s always a fresh new take for each monologue because everyone interprets a monologue differently. There are also different elements with the staging, lighting, and music.”

“The Vagina Monologues is different all over the world, wherever you go,” said Celec. “It continues to be a powerful piece of social justice theatre that impacts the world.”

Tickets can be purchased in the Not Just Women’s Center and at the door before the show. The cost is $1 for Shenandoah students, $5 for Shenandoah faculty and staff, and $10 for anybody else. All proceeds benefit the Winchester branch of the Laurel Center, a center for stopping domestic and sexual violence.

Vagina Monologues break down barriers

“We need to talk openly and without shame about our vaginas. It is time to embrace the awe-inspiring power of the vagina.”

By Evelyn Gaffney

Cave of wonders? Pink canoe? Honey Pot? Vajayjay? Whichever you choose, there are about 200 words for “vagina.” But what is so wrong with just saying the word?

The same question is asked by the annual Vagina Monologues, a series of spoken performances taking place on campuses across the country and around the world. Each year, the Vagina Monologues come to Shenandoah, and students and staff are eager to get involved.

“I wanted to be a part of the Vagina Monologues to help raise awareness about sexual assault, domestic violence, and create a space where human biology is not a taboo subject,” said senior Breanna Stewart.

Written by Eve Ensler, the Vagina Monologues focus on the overall life experience of women around the world. The shows touch on sex, love, orgasms, birth, domestic-violence, sexual assault, genital mutilation, and more. Ensler’s intention was to use the vagina as another form of female empowerment, and to reduce the stigma that exists with the word.

“This show matters because vaginas matter,” said Events Service Coordinator and director of this year’s Monologues, Sarah Celec. “Vaginas are beautiful, incredible, and powerful: children are birthed through them, mind-blowing orgasms happen, and far too often there is terrible suffering because of them.”

Involvement in the program continues to grow each year, with more talent and more campus community involvement. It is clear that the Vagina Monologues are here to stay at Shenandoah.

“There is power in conversation and connection,” Celec said. “We need to talk openly and without shame about our vaginas. It is time to embrace the awe-inspiring power of the vagina.”

Feature photo courtesy of Amy Robertson

Just BeYOUtiful at Shenandoah

Nichole Davila-Sanchez, Staff Writer

The campaign spent the first week of April in Brandt Student Center, posting positive notes around the lobby, talking to students and playing peppy music to help spread positivity and strength across campus.

Nichole Davila-Sanchez, Staff Writer

On April 6, Shenandoah University’s BeYOUtiful Campaign held a workshop to discuss the ideals of beauty in our society, how it affects us, and how to nurture self-love. They hosted former fashion Emily Dean as a guest speaker at the workshop. Dean is currently the founder and owner of the website “Verity Vareé” that photographs women with and without makeup, in hopes to inspire them to see the beauty of their exterior and interior. They interview their participants to further embolden them through sharing experiences that create and generate strength through connection. The first fifty people to sign up for the workshop received a free t-shirt.

In addition to this, the campaign spent the first week of April in Brandt Student Center, posting positive notes around the lobby, talking to students and playing peppy music to help spread positivity and strength across campus.

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“The BeYOUtiful Campaign provides such an important outlet for students at SU because of the issues that campaign addresses that, I think, are vitally important. Many college students are dealing with low self-esteem and are very harsh on themselves – myself included,” says senior Renee Sogueco. “The campaign encourages people to be kind to themselves and to love themselves.”

The nationwide BeYOUtiful campaign holds month and day camps and hosts multiple volunteer events every year. They seek to encourage its participants to be confident in who they are and to be accepting of others despite differences. The theme of love, kindness and peace is one of the main messages that is projected though this movement.

The program began in Ontario, when two local women began a campaign to empower young people to embrace their inner beauty. It is available to local schools and organizations, with volunteers always welcome.

 

Photos by Ghadah Alotaibi

[Not Just] Women’s Center opens

Kaedy Fischer, ’Doah Staff Writer
March 6, 2013

'Doah photo by Hilary Legge
‘Doah photo by Hilary Legge

What if you found out your roommate was raped? Would you know what to say, who to go to or how to help them cope?  In the past, you might have asked Dr. Amy Sarch, head of the women’s studies department, for advice. But now, you can go to the [Not Just] Women’s Center. Located in room 210 in Cooley Hall, the center was founded by Sarch for people from all walks of life, not just women.

“Students should expect a welcoming, warm, non-judgmental atmosphere where they can come and ask questions, any questions about sexual assault. Even questions they may feel are ‘stupid,’ and there are no stupid questions,” explains Sarch. The [Not Just] Women’s Center overall goal is to prevent sexual assault and make sure that students affected know they are not alone.

“It is about changing the perception about gender norms and questioning those norms and boundaries and perceptions of what is ‘ok’ in our culture.” People should feel comfortable having an open dialogue about this issue, without shame. “The center is the first step towards casting a critical eye on that culture changing and making that change happen,” Sarch continues. “It’s an issue that involves women and men working together for that change.”

Although Sarch founded the NJWC, it is run by the students for the students. The students working in the center are called “peer mentors.” They have all undergone a five hour training program with Raine Johnson, the Sexual Assault Prevention Educator at the Laurel Center.

Peer mentor Kristina Troxel, opened up about what the Center means to her. “I had a minor experience in high school and that made me drawn to trauma work. Knowing that the center is here… it’s just a such a good thing and it’s going to help so many people.” The NJWC is meant to be a safe-haven for anyone and everyone. Troxel is confident that Johnson prepared the peer mentors for any situation or question that comes their way. “Even just one person coming in and being helped would make it all worthwhile. Getting it up and running is an experience that is rewarding. We are here and in a position to help them.”

Mariagracia “MG” Rivas Berger also works as a peer mentor, and hopes that someday in the near future “people are less shy about this whole subject.” Like Troxel, she feels that the training really prepared her for any situation. She particularly appreciated that Johnson gave the mentors hypothetical situations alongside actual statistics. “The facts always astound me.”

Roughly one in four women will be sexually assaulted during her time in college. As well, 95 percent of campus rapes go unreported. Berger hopes that “more and more people will be less afraid to come here and talk about their experience. The more we talk about it,  the more we will prevent it. It makes you feel more at peace and to have someone to talk to you about it is so refreshing.”

The NJWC has been a dream of Sarch’s for many years and now that it is happening she is overwhelmed with excitement. However, she firmly believes that in order for this to work, it needs to be run by the students. Within the next year, Sarch would like the center to become completely student-driven and for it to work closely with Student Life. She does not want her voice to be the loudest. “I will do all I can to keep that momentum going. I hope in five years when someone is talking about the center they say, ‘I heard that Dr. Sarch started this center five years ago; she stops in every now and then to add another boa to our collection.’”