The University of Central Florida’s Victim Services hosted its annual student-led production of The Vagina Monologues and for the first time, incorporated men into the show.
The play, written by Eve Ensler, celebrates “female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery” as well as brings awareness to sexual violence and abuse. In-between monologues, Ensler’s play incorporates statistics that show the prevalence of sexual and domestic abuse in our society. Director Elizabeth Fay and assistant director Jeannie Marlowe wanted to bring awareness that sexual violence also affects men, and not just women.
“We went a step further and incorporated three guys into our vagina monologues,” said Fay, and added that the show is usually only acted out by women. “We took other pieces written by Eve Ensler that had the same message [for men] and kind of mixed it in so that audiences can see that there is also a male voice within feminism.”
Fay and Marlowe interviewed to be director and assistant director in December, but had been planning their pitch to incorporate men into the show since last year’s performance. Fay said that the issues discussed within the monologues can affect anyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, culture, or otherwise.
“We want men and women to be aware of the social and gender issues as well as the sexual orientation issues that are in our society so that they have a better understanding and can open a dialogue about it with each other,” Fay said.
Sariel Toribio, one of the three men in the cast, said he was glad – and honored – to be able to add the male perspective to a play that so strongly advocates the feminist movement.
“I grew up with a lot of women, so I’m doing it for them of course, and it’s just, thinking about them relating to this, it’s something that I know that I want to be apart of,” Toribio said.
Toribio went on to say that though the incorporation of men in the monologues is significant, he takes no credit because the purpose of the play is to celebrate women.
“I have a better understanding about how women feel in this society. I did have a good understanding before, but now that I’ve actually gotten to sit down and just see their perspective, it’s mind-blowing and it’s … I’m glad that I was apart of it.”
To bring the monologues, and its prevalence, closer to home for students, Toribio incorporated statistics of male sexual assault in the state of Florida.
20.4 percent of men, or 1,437,000 men, in Florida have been victimized by sexual violence other than rape. More than one quarter (27.8 percent) of male victims who have experienced at least one completed rape experienced the first rape when they were 10 years of age or younger. These are numbers people don’t acknowledge, Toribio said.
Other facts included in the monologue talked about sexual violence against women. 500,000 women are raped in the U.S. each year. According to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, 1,266,000 women in Florida have been raped at some point in their lives. That’s 17 percent, or 1 in 6 women. 41.8 percent of women, or 3,111,000, in Florida have been victimized by sexual violence other than rape. 79.6 percent of female victims who have experienced one or more completed rape experienced the first rape before the age of 25. 42.2 percent were under 18 at the time of the first completed rape.
In the end, Fay said that these statistics are the most important piece of the show. “I think it’s just bringing that awareness to everybody of just how complicated this is,” she said.