REVIEW: The Vagina Monologues

By the start of Saturday’s show, the Vagina Monologues had raised over $2,500 for Safe House, which was wonderful to hear. There were far more women than men in the audience–either it was the subject material, or maybe it was because the men were too busy watching the latest NCAA Tournament game.

The show was split into two halves: the first half consisted of students on campus telling their stories, and the second half a rendition of Eve Ensler’s play of the same name. Out of respect for the women in the first half, I won’t post any quotes or pictures. Instead, a checklist of things I gathered:

  1. Found out what the clitoris is
  2. That virginity is a social construct meant to control women
  3. PCOS (polycistic ovary syndrome) makes you have irregular periods, and makes it really hard to lose weight
  4. There is a huge lack of women and diversity in Hollywood (duh)
  5. Don’t spray perfume up your vagina!
  6. Just because you enjoy Anime doesn’t mean you have yellow fever (probably)
  7. Don’t hook up with girls and then refuse to date them
  8. Don’t refuse to take girls out to eat, but then offer to eat them out later
  9. No means no.

The second half–Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues–was in a way more concise than the previous monologues. This was partly due to the fact that each monologue was actually from a compendium of interviews Ms. Ensler had conducted with over 200 women in preparation for the play.

Some stories were raunchier than others, some were funny and some were so serious that the Rackham Amphitheater got so quiet you could hear the breaths of the people in the audience.

One women said the word cunt, and then kept repeating cunt, as well as words that were related and/or sounded like cunt.

Another woman was obsessed with making other women happy, so she stopped being a lawyer to become a sex worker that worked only for women. She was a dominatrix that loved hearing women moan, and the audience received quite the description of the different moans she had heard from various women.

There was only one moment when I felt the urge to “man-splain” something. Regarding Pap smears, one woman wondered aloud why she had to wear a papery apron instead of a velvet robe, and why they used such uncomfortable instruments rather than something else more pleasurable. If Pap smears were like that, the hospital bill would probably be a lot higher than it currently is for the procedure. But alas, I am a graduate student in a physiology program, so medical things stand out to me.

Overall, the Vagina Monologues is a worthwhile event to go to, especially if you are a man. Although not as provocative as it might have been in a more conservative town, the Vagina Monologues is still a raunchy, R-rated show that can help you expand your horizons if you let it.



PREVIEW: The Vagina Monologues

For the past five years, the group Students for Choice has put on the Vagina Monologues at U of M. In case you don’t know, the choice is a live performance of Eve Ensler’s play of the same name. As you can probably tell, vaginas will be mentioned often, and in detail.

From the event page:

TVM raises awareness about the violence against women and girls, celebrates women’s sexuality, and talks about experiences excluded from the dominant narrative.

When: Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18 from 8:00-10:00 PM
Where: Rackham Auditorium.
Cost: $5 in Advance and $10 at the door
All ticket proceeds go to SafeHouse Center and V-Day.

Also feel free to like and explore the UofM Vagina Monologues Page!


REVIEW: Moonlight Film Screening OSCAR WINNER

I’m glad Moonlight won Best Picture over La La Land.  Most  of Moonlight is bleak, yet beautiful; it’s simple, yet incredibly diverse in the range of emotion that flit across the screen.

The film follows Chiron through three stages of his life: “little” catches him as an adolescent boy, “Chiron” offers a few scenes from his teenage years, and “black” shows us a glimpse of the man he eventually becomes. One of the things I liked most about Moonlight was that it never ties anything up neatly in a bow.

At every moment, even in the final shot of the film, Chiron struggles with his sexuality and identity. Juan, played by Mahershala Ali, plays an anchoring father figure during the first third of the film. Then, tragically, he disappears from Chiron’s life due to an off screen death, leaving Chiron floundering when he needs a powerful male figure the most. Chiron eventually becomes a drug dealer, just like Juan, and even adopts the same clothing style and mannerisms as his de facto father.

Although Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for best supporting actor, every single performance in Moonlight is incredible. The film is minimal on dialogue, so the actors do much of the speaking with their faces and body movements. When we do hear someone speaking on screen, the words seem so much more powerful, even though most of the time they’re phrases we hear in everyday conversation.

Somehow Moonlight manages to look incredible on a 1.5 million dollar budget. Much of the film is tinged with cool tones, marked at times by swaths of violent red.  The lighting is deliberate, and complements perfectly a story Juan tells about being called “Moonlight” when he was a boy. The cinematography too is powerful, capturing the range of emotions that occur in each scene.

Moonlight would have felt a lot like a modern day Boyz n the Hood if it wasn’t for the haunting, string-heavy score throughout the film. Almost like in a horror film, the strings quickened during key sequences, but remained beautiful.

I was happy to see a packed room at the Michigan League.  Moonlight is an incredible movie, and I agree in every way that it deserved Best Picture over La La Land. Moonlight has no fears about shoving us face first into questions of what it means to be human without bothering to answer them. Moonlight knows that being human and finding your identity is complicated, and it doesn’t wrap things up in a neat little box.

PREVIEW: Moonlight Film Screening OSCAR WINNER

February is Black History Month, but that doesn’t mean appreciation of Black History has to be contained in that single month.

On March 7th, there will be a FREE screening of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight at Hatcher Grad Library.

When: Tuesday, March 7 @ 7pm

Where: University of Michigan League Ballroom

Cost: FREE

See the film that snatched Best Picture out of the hands of La La Land!

Mahershala Ali won an Oscar for his role in this film, which follows the life of a young black man as he makes the transition from child to adult in Miami.


REVIEW: Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity Ping Chong

Ping Chong + Company spend hours interviewing volunteers for their “undesirable elements” series. For Beyond Sacred, they chose 5 Muslim New Yorkers.

All five of these individuals came to the stage, sat down, and began reading autiobiographical scripts.

We heard from Tiffany Yasmin Abdelghani, a woman whose Muslim father stopped practicing and when prompted about the faith told her “I don’t do that anymore.” Lost for many years, she sought out Islam on her own and chose to convert and wear the hijab.

Ferdous Dehqan emigrated from Afghanistan to escape the destruction caused by the Taliban as it swept through the country. He expressed his frustration at people when they see him and assume he is a terrorist, when he hates the Taliban just as much, if not more the average American.

Kadin Herring brought with him the perspective of a young, African-American queer man. Not only does he have to contend with anti-immigrant and questions about his faith and allegiance to his country, but he also has to face the daily struggles of being a black man in the United States.

Amir Khafagy described his upbringing caught somewhere between Arab and Puerto Rican culture, as well as his experiences with class struggles.

Maya Syed told us about her path to becoming a human rights and gender equity advocate, from volunteering for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic to helping immigrants understand their rights in New York.

Beyond Sacred was different from any other play I had experienced before because it involved real people telling real stories–no actors and no fabricated scripts.

The overall message from the night was something along the lines of “minorities are regular people too.” All of the actors expressed frustration at constantly being asked questions about Islam or terrorism, and about all the looks they receive from people on a daily basis.

Furthermore, the actors explained how they felt they had to act as model Muslims as a way of overcompensating for the perceived violent nature of Muslims by much of the world. Lumping all Islamic cultures together is also ridiculous, they added, pointing out that Indonesia is nothing like Saudi Arabia, which is nothing like North Sudan.

After attending an event like this, I wondered what it would have been like hearing professional actors read the same scripts. I have to admit that I think professional actors would have done better, and made for a more moving performance. Instead, I left the event feeling like something was missing. A little over an hour was all we had to hear the stories of five complex people. How could that ever be enough time?

I wish I could’ve recorded the performance. Luckily, here’s a link to a brief audio snippet.


PREVIEW: Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity Ping Chong + Company

Ping Chong + Company is a New York-based theater company that is putting on an interview-based theater production centering around Muslim-American identities in our post-9/11 world.

Below is a preview of the one-day event coming up this Saturday:

Where: Power Center

When: February 18th at 8 PM 


The event page on the UMS web site states that

“Participants come from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and include young men and women who reflect a range of Muslim identities…Beyond Sacred illuminates the daily lives of Muslim Americans in an effort to work toward greater communication and understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.”

You can also register for a reminder about a livestream of the performance here