The experience may be humorous, exciting, beautiful, painful, inspiring, terrifying, empowering, embarrassing, sad…
Write this specific story to capture the complexity of being female.
Now, let your story be joined with the stories of dozens of other women.
This is the idea behind the creation of “monologues.”
An important new project, called Michiana Monologues, began in the fall of 2007. The Monologues were inspired by Eve Ensler’s award winning Vagina Monologues. What is a “monologue”? A monologue is one person speaking, and in this case, the person is a woman. In the monologue, the woman shares her experience about herself, her body, her experiences.
Some background information:
Sexual assault touches the lives of thousand of individuals each month. Promoting awareness of the impact of sexual assault, creating support for survivors of sexual assault, and increasing a community’s commitment to combat such assaults are essential goals for those who address this act of violence. Perhaps no one is as widely associated with opposing sexual violence as Eve Ensler, whose award winning production The Vagina Monologues has brought world-wide attention to the continuing problem of violence against women.
In 2005, after producing The Vagina Monologues for several years, members of the Saint Mary’s College community took a different approach, and created a production designed specifically for their campus. They produced The SMC Monologues, a performance of monologues both written and performed by members of the SMC community. In 2007, members of the Indiana University South Bend community approached their Saint Mary’s College colleagues to ask for information about how to produce their own monologues. In the discussion that followed, the idea of collaborating in developing a South Bend community- wide monologues production, the Michiana Monologues, was born.
The advantages of producing a monologues production specific to a given community, as pioneered by Saint Mary’s College, are numerous. First, writing a monologue often provides an empowering, healing experience for those who have survived sexual assault. Our society often silences survivors of sexual assault in a variety of ways, and the monologues gives a voice to these individuals through a medium that protects their anonymity.
Second, because the monologues are written by community members, they are much more likely to reflect the specific issues, concerns, and perspectives of the local community to whom the monologues are presented. Thus, the monologues are more likely to be relevant to and have an impact on that specific community. Not all monologues are about sexual assault, for example. Other issues, including domestic violence, body image, women’s sexuality, and gender identity are addressed.
Third, when the settings of events shared in the monologues are familiar and local, the audience is more likely to connect with the experiences shared in the monologues. Finally, the experience of violence against women as local is more likely to spur those who hear the monologues to political and social action in their communities.
In summary, community-based monologues are a dynamic and effective way to respond to a variety of experiences that women have. Perhaps the most compelling topic is the experience, the impact, and the prevention of violence against women. The monologue- writing and performance process provides opportunities for support and empowerment to the survivors of violence, increases awareness of the issue, and promotes community involvement in prevention efforts.