Stories of secret wrongs

Students will perform “The Vagina Monologues” as part of a national campaign against domestic violence.

Ryan Dionne

Valentine’s Day is most often associated with hearts, love and relationships, but one group associates the day with “victory, valentine and vagina.”

The V-Day College Campaign that holds benefit productions of “The Vagina Monologues” on campuses around Valentine’s Day kicked off their local tour Thursday at Augsburg College.

Through monologues and musical numbers, 10 performers boldly discussed violence against women and presented in-your-face-sexuality.

Three University students are in the area productions of the show.

“When I first read the script I was more or less pretending I was okay with talking about these things in public,” said cast member Jen Rand, a third-year theater student. “It’s made me more comfortable with my sexuality.”

The cast consists of strong-willed and outgoing feminists, said cast member and theater senior Brittany Benjamin.

“There are a couple points in the show where I’m like, ‘Damn, we should really love our vaginas,’ ” said performer Teresa Mock, also a theater student.

Eve Ensler, creator of “The Vagina Monologues,” wrote the script after interviewing hundreds of women around the world who told stories of incest, rape, domestic battery and genital mutilation, according to the V-Day Web site.

“These monologues are taken from real people,” Benjamin said. “Yes we act them out, but they are real stories from real women.”

Sexual violence also occurs at the University.

Between 2000 and 2002, 66 forcible sex offenses on or around campus were reported, according to the University police.

Incidents took place anywhere from dorm rooms to parking lots.

Between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2003, February ranked third for the highest number of violent or harassment-related occurrences reported to the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education.

The total number of incidents for the fiscal year was 176, according to their annual report.

The V-Day College Campaign’s presentation of “The Vagina Monologues” works to lessen the number of women who arevictimized.

Every penny from the ticket sales go to three local organizations – Women of Nations, Casa de Esperanza and the Sojourner Project – that help stop violence against women, Brita Kleingartner, a psychology senior, said.

She is a member of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group’s V-Day task force, who organized the local performances.

This is the fifth year MPIRG has organized the event and raised money to cover expenses such as venue costs.

MPIRG also sponsors Take Back the Night to help stop brutality, Kleingartner said.