The Vagina Monologues are not only about women and for women, through the lens of women’s experience, but they seem to depict humanity as a whole.
On Performing The Vagina Monologues 2020
By Camille Chabot
Edited by Shivani Ekkanath
Spotlight, red roses and sorority. My heart races as Emile announces my name “ ‘I’m Thinking I’ve Closed My Eyes for the Last Time’ written by Hanan al-Shaykh and performed by Camille Chabot”.
Today has been a long day for me. Sociology midterm at 9 a.m. Lunch at 1 p.m. Then, the Women’s March starting at 3 p.m. Women of all ages, from all social backgrounds and cultural origins cheerfully marching together in the gloomy weather of Le Havre, waving catchy slogans: “Ras le viol”, “This is not consent”, “On ne nait pas violeur, on le devient”. Next, running back on campus for the final rehearsal with the TVM team.
All eyes are fixed on me as I speak the first sentence of my monologue: “I’m thinking I’ve closed my eyes for the last time”. My hands are sweating, my eyes are dazzled by the projector but I feel incredibly well. I have done theatre for several years but never have I experienced such a feeling. There is an amazing energy in this amphitheatre. All these faces made unfamiliar by the blazing light are observing me, and they are not only watching my performance as an actor, they are also listening to my experience as a woman.
This is the magic of the Vagina Monologues. I am not performing my own monologue and yet I feel like I am confessing an experience shared by all women. Between waves of laughter, cries, shouts and moans, all of us are talking about what it is to be a woman. This common experience unites all of us, performers, organizers, spectators, female students from various universities performing the Vagina Monologues every year. Tonight, we are lending a voice to women from diverse countries, backgrounds, religions and cultures. These women are brave, funny, intelligent, talented and they deserve to be heard. “...to make sure, even though I was dead that no other man would touch me, not even a man of religion”. The projector turns off as I finish my last sentence. I feel so honoured and proud to be part of this.
Next year, I want to perform again for The Vagina Monologues. Maybe then I will be performing my own monologue. This performance made me realize that although my experience as a woman cannot be compared to other monologues, my story still deserved to be told. This time, I hope there will be men performing as well. The Vagina Monologues are not only about women and for women, through the lens of women’s experience, but they seem to depict humanity as a whole. Sexual aggression does not concern only women, but men are also main actors in them, whether as perpetrators or as indirect victims. I hope the Vagina Monologues is a foundation for such active and honest dialogue and discussion.
by Camille Chabot, feminist chapter captain and undergrad student at Sciences Po Paris Campus du Havre