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Vagina Monologues to Feature All Women of Color Cast

vdayBarnard-Columbia V-Day, the group that organizes an annual production of The Vagina Monologues on campus, has decided that the cast for this year’s production will be made up of the stories of self-identified women of color.

The announcement was accompanied by a statement which explained the ideas of allyship and empowerment which shaped the decision:

The intention behind an all women of color cast is to center traditionally marginalized identities within the feminist community, creating a space in which the voices, stories, and experiences of women of color can be heard, acknowledged, and addressed… We hope that an all women of color cast of The Vagina Monologues will continue a serious dialogue on campus regarding the shortcomings of mainstream Western feminism.

The full statement can be read on the Facebook page for the auditions. Auditions, for self-identified women of color only, are Wednesday October 8th from 8:00 – 11:00 pm.

Does this decision represent admirable allyship or a regrettable exclusion? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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91 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous One day I hope our species will be able to look back at this sort of discrimination with disgust.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous reverse racism

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous In a lot of ways the word “racism” implies malicious intent. I don’t think they are trying to be malicious, which is why your comment is being downvoted. I do agree that this is wrong, though, call it what you will.

      1. In other ways... says:

        @In other ways... racism is racism, intended or not.

    2. BC '14 says:

      @BC '14 REVERSE RACISM IS NOT A THING GET OVER IT OH MY GODDDDDDD

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Hmm, how insightful! You’ve used reason to convince me that my position is wrong; thank you for showing me the truth with your profound dialectic!

    3. lol says:

      @lol how come we don’t have a “Penis Monologue”?? why don’t they have a WHITE history month?? why don’t they have NON-handicapped parking spaces? Why’s there no cemetery for ALIVE people??

  • ha says:

    @ha spec beat u

    1. double ha says:

      @double ha The Lion beat everyone.

      1. double huh says:

        @double huh Wtf is the Lion? We have 3 websites now?

  • >:( says:

    @>:( What about Dick Dialogues?

    1. Dick says:

      @Dick I could get behind this.

  • Srsly says:

    @Srsly An allyship would be better with more allies… as in not excluding another group of people

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Real allies wouldn’t throw such a hissy fit about making space for those they’re supporting.

  • Against Racism says:

    @Against Racism I completely respect the need for diversity; but this is not diversity rather an obvious form of discrimination. If a similar group expressed its desire for “only caucasian males” to try out, it would be lambasted and criticized by all student groups and the administration. Let’s make sure that racism can’t occur at Columbia – in any form against anyone.

    1. error detected says:

      @error detected you can’t compare casting only women of color to casting only caucasian males because WOC have been systemically marginalized throughout history etc. etc. whereas causcasian males have benefited from that marginalization and been privileged.

      I’m not sure there isn’t /something/ wrong about excluding white women from the Vagina Monologues, but your argument isn’t it.

      1. Kind of says:

        @Kind of I can’t say I completely agree with this logic- while the original commentator went too far, to say that racism is ok because of past issues is basically condoning racism because racism existed earlier. I don’t think its acceptable to allow racism against a group purely because they were themselves victims of racism.

        Shouldn’t WOC be encouraging participation from all groups and showing how bad exclusion is rather than encouraging some practices that they themselves were victims of in early years.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous @Kind of: “In early years?”

          No. Discrimination and exclusion happens now. That’s the point.

          1. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous Can you please provide an example?

  • fyi says:

    @fyi This is the full statement:
    The Vagina Monologues has long been celebrated by feminist communities for its representation of women’s experiences. Such representation is vitally important. It demonstrates whose voices matter and which stories are deemed important enough to be heard. However, as a performance piece, The Vagina Monologues has historically overlooked the empowerment of women of color, queer women, and trans* folk, among others—often replicating and perpetuating the same systems of power and privilege that prompted the playwright, Eve Ensler, to write The Vagina Monologues in the first place. The marginalization and erasure of these groups in such a generative and influential feminist play speaks to a failure to consider the effects of power structures outside gender within the feminist community. We hope that an all women of color cast of The Vagina Monologues will continue a serious dialogue on campus regarding the shortcomings of mainstream Western feminism.

    Barnard-Columbia V-Day believes that allyship is about actively supporting one another—about creating coalitions across multiple racial, gender, and sexual identities rather than erasing the voices of those who do not fit within a narrow and specific liberal feminist narrative. We appreciate all the support we’ve already received from the Barnard-Columbia community and look forward to your continued support and allyship during this important endeavor.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous great job excluding, once again, some queer and trans* folk (who happen to be white)!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous In previous VDays, there has been a stipulation that anyone who wishes to be a part of the production needs to be involved in some way — cast, crew, creative team or otherwise. I’m assuming that rule still holds true here. If that’s the case, white people aren’t being excluded from the entire production, they just can’t be the onstage stars of the show. The producers and directors are obviously using their casting decisions to make a larger statement about how race impacts gender relations. From their perspective, white actors would be counterproductive to getting that point across. I guess the question I’m asking is: What makes this an instance of racism rather than artistic expression or creative liberty?

    1. fyi says:

      @fyi @Anonymous: yes, your assumption is true. Anyone who wishes to is able to participate in the process, just not on stage.

    2. woman of color says:

      @woman of color “instance of racism” and “artistic expression or creative liberty” need not be mutually exclusive. call it whatever you will… it’s still racism.

      and @ anon below, you don’t “reconcile” racism… using racism.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Is it really “racism” if women of color have been institutionally marginalized? Is it not trying to reconcile years—past and future—of oppression?

    1. Yes says:

      @Yes I’m surprised that WOC that have been marginalized can’t recognize how wrong they are when trying to do the same to others

      1. right? says:

        @right? this is obvious.

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous It is not marginalizing white people to FOR ONCE not dominate a space. Are historically black colleges and universities racist then? Are women’s colleges sexist? We recognize that safe spaces for historically marginalized groups are a good thing in some ways, so why is this any different?

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous “Not dominate” is different from EXCLUDE. Exclusion is discrimination. Why don’t people get it?!

    2. Reconcile? says:

      @Reconcile? In what ways does this reconcile years of discrimination? Two wrongs don’t make a write, and the exclusion in this case only belittles, and makes petty te purported cause. Progress is not made by returning old blows, but by rising above, and moving on to correct the errors of those who came before us.

      1. betch can't even spell says:

        @betch can't even spell *right

      2. bc '14 says:

        @bc '14 to anyone who thinks the all WOC is about “making white women marginalized” as a way of showing white women how WOC have been marginalized–you’re wrong. it’s about increasing representation of WOC and sharing their voices, when they are systematically silenced or ignored.

        plz, read the full statement people.

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous You (and others that have this general sort of viewpoint) are being unfairly selective with the positive and negative sides of racial discrimination. When white men benefit from discrimination, you focus entirely on the victims who are discriminated against and think the discrimination negative, even though one group was impacted positively. But when minorities benefit from discrimination, you focus only on the advantages and think the discrimination positive. Even if this discrimination is attempting to “reconcile years of oppression”, it’s doing so in an evil way which victimizes and oppresses another group of people.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous argh THANK YOU!!!! i hate when people can’t see this!

      2. actually no says:

        @actually no i hate that people are calling this choice “discrimination.” it’s not like this production will suddenly make women of color not marginalized. this won’t undo the fact that white men have been the beneficiaries of others’ discrimination for thousands of years. this is an exclusionary choice, but don’t equate it with the discrimination that WOC face every day.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous replace WOC with Jews and you have a perfectly radical Zionist discourse. still agree with what you just said?

        2. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Men, sure, but I’m going to need a source on white privilege pre-Columbus.

  • Alexander Donnelly says:

    @Alexander Donnelly I wonder how many of the people commenting on this post have ever seen The Vagina Monologues or understand what VagMo’s goals and mission statement.

    I saw the VagMos last year and was very moved by their performance. I learned that for every white woman that reports a rape, 5 woman do not. For every black woman that reports a rape, 15 woman do not. For any fact checkers out there, please see: http://www.incasa.org/PDF/brochures/women_of_color_and_rape.pdf for more facts and numbers.

    I applaud VagMos for deciding to feature women of color in their production this year and raise awareness for the marginalization these women face. I would be happy to continue a dialogue with anyone who has thoughts on the matter, so please do not hesitate to reach out if you do: ard2145 [at] columbia.edu

    -Alex Donnelly, President
    CU Performing Arts League (CUPAL)

    1. CC '14 says:

      @CC '14 You must be a real hit at parties.

      1. BC '15 says:

        @BC '15 yah we are ;)

    2. WOC Senior says:

      @WOC Senior Alex, I appreciate your invitation for a private dialogue, but I would like to make a public statement.

      You applaud VagMo “for deciding to feature women of color.”

      But “featuring” doesn’t ring as the right word. VagMo is EXCLUDING people of white color. There’s a big difference between featuring and excluding. Featuring means you’re promoting a group by highlighting or shining a spotlight on them. Excluding means you’re promoting a group by keeping others out of the picture.

      This is exclusion, not a feature.

  • Sigma Nu Bro says:

    @Sigma Nu Bro I identify as a transgender Haitian, does that mean I can be in the V monologues?

  • Feminist Theater? says:

    @Feminist Theater? Top Girls. Now on sale at the TIC.
    http://artsinitiative.columbia.edu/events/top-girls

  • anon says:

    @anon do people actually think this is “marginalizing” white women in the same way that WOC are marginalized every day?

    if you think white women and WOC are viewed equally in society you are wrong. sometimes the best thing an ally can do is to be quiet so people with less of a voice can be heard.

    1. Bwoogy Dooby Doo says:

      @Bwoogy Dooby Doo Looking at you, Macklemore.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I don’t think anyone is seriously saying that this play will actually *do* anything in either direction–it’s all about the conversation (discourse, if we must).

      V Day is great because talking about feminism is great and can lead to good action and encouraging positive norms but I think people (well, at least me right here) are saying that interrupting the conversation with an arguably unnecessary actual act of discrimination (in the most banal, technical sense) distracts from a conversation that ideally should welcome everyone.

      Instead we have this comment thread (although to be fair as of 8:44pm Monday it isn’t as bad of a shit show as other bwog comment threads of lore).

  • Dog says:

    @Dog I don’t see color.
    I see humans.

    And ball. I see ball.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous squirrel?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous OMG
    GOD FORBID WHITE WOMEN TAKE A BACKSEAT TO WOMEN OF COLOR IN FEMINIST DISCUSSIONS FOR ONCE

    and also if you’ve been oppressed and marginalized, apparently it’s your responsibility to teach other people why that’s wrong? not the responsibility of the oppressors to, um, stop fucking oppressing people?

    Go away, Columbia

    1. clarification says:

      @clarification It’s not “taking a backseat” when white women aren’t being allowed in the car at all…

      I don’t see why this production couldn’t just emphasize the oppression/marginalization of women of color without completely excluding women who are not of color?

      Also, my captcha word for this comment is “diversely.” Lol.

      1. but says:

        @but They are in the car taking a back seat since they are allowed to be involved in literally every other aspect of the show except acting in it?

  • only at Columbia says:

    @only at Columbia Barnard’s 2012 graduation speaker -> flame war and personal attacks.

    This story -> reasoned discussion of the implications of the decision.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I wonder how white trans* folk and queer women feel about this.

    Columbia, you’re doing social justice wrong.

    1. BC '16 says:

      @BC '16 White queer woman right here! I think this is a fascinating, productive idea and I cannot wait to see the performance. For me, v day is about listening to the voices and experiences of others, not jumping in and trying to be the loudest person in the room. I’ll gladly take a step back so I can learn from some other amazing women. My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous You’re basically defending a potentially unjust policy just by saying it doesn’t affect you.

        1. BC '16 says:

          @BC '16 They asked how a white queer woman might feel about this. I responded with my perspective about it. I don’t speak for everyone. That’s the /entire point/.

  • #thrive says:

    @#thrive vaginas are colorblind

    1. No says:

      @No They really aren’t. Have you ever tried talking to women in another race’s neighborhood?

  • Sherry J. Wolf says:

    @Sherry J. Wolf I’m transracial. Y’all need to check your privilege.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The greatest trick the white man ever pulled was getting everyone else to turn on each other.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous You can’t simply be “colorblind” and view white women and women of color on an equal playing-field. I’m sorry, but people who just “choose not to see” institutional marginalization are essentially perpetuating a form of racism themselves. While we do need to try to move forward from the horrors that began it all, we cannot forget the past. Please just keep this in mind.

    1. Anon says:

      @Anon Nobody is refusing to see institutionalized marginalization, or viewing white women and WOC “on an equal playing field.” We are simply arguing that while it is great to combat institutionalized marginalization by highlighting a marginalized group, it is not ok or effective to try and combat it by completely excluding the group that isn’t marginalized.

  • BC '16 says:

    @BC '16 It’s gonna be an amazing show this year. Can’t wait to be in the audience, listening to the voices of fab woc. hell yeah.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous hopefully by the time you’re a senior you’ll stop jumping into things without a healthy dose of skepticism

      1. beautiful sophisticated naive newborn baby BC '16 says:

        @beautiful sophisticated naive newborn baby BC '16 you know what I’m skeptical of? people who believe in reverse racism

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous It’s not reverse racism, it’s plain racism.

  • Are you f**king kidding me? says:

    @Are you f**king kidding me? Would be the reaction of 99.99% of people on planet Earth to this. Boy are you nutjobs screwed when you leave this place. There is no nuance here. This is just discrimination. Leave all the nonsense ivory tower-ism behind for just one second and think like the rest of the people outside your crazy politically correct bubble. This is wrong.

  • My Vajayjay says:

    @My Vajayjay The Big O’s reaction to this mess
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVxm-SO6Vdo

  • Catch-22 says:

    @Catch-22 People say that because races aren’t viewed equally in society, racial minorities require special consideration. On the other hand, these same people say that you can’t be colorblind, or else it ignores the plight of the minority races. So, I shouldn’t be colorblind, but I also shouldn’t discriminate between races? Am I supposed to discriminate between races or not?

  • Ugh says:

    @Ugh SO MANY WHITE TEARS.

  • Question! says:

    @Question! To Vag Mon producers:
    How are you going to “center traditionally marginalized identities within the feminist community, creating a space in which the voices, stories, and experiences of women of color can be heard, acknowledged, and addressed” while still using the Vagina Monologues platform and prescribed script?
    Last I checked, all of these stories were compiled by a white woman, and they are mainly the stories of white women, though many apply across multiple races.
    How much can you, or will you, change the content of these monologues?
    By itself, just creating an all-color (not you White!) cast can’t do much besides stir the pot when the base of your whole production is still the stories of mainly white women. Unfortunately, just changing the tone of delivery isn’t going to do very much…

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Ever seen Barnard/Columbia’s productions of Vagina Monologues before? It doesn’t exactly follow the original script as closely as other productions. Last year’s certainly didn’t; including student written monologues, many of the “spotlight” monologues which change every year, and reworking of the original monologues to queer them. I’m sure the directors have thought about this and are planning to rework and stretch the script as much as legally possible.

      1. Question Again... says:

        @Question Again... Yes, I’ve seen the last two productions and you have a point; they do alter the script. Still, why can’t white women deliver “colored” monologues just as powerfully? Is every single monologue going to focus on being a colored woman? Because if that’s the case, then the entire Vagina Monologues has been co-opted for someone’s own special interest. I’d be fine with it if they wanted to devote a large portion of the Vagina Monologues to these issues, but to exclude all other willing actresses is unacceptable; if this isn’t racist, it’s at least selfish.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous By your definition of “special interest” the play would already represent a “special interest” since it’s already ALL WOMEN

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous It is not marginalizing white people to FOR ONCE not dominate a space. Are historically black colleges and universities racist then? Are women’s colleges sexist? We recognize that safe spaces for historically marginalized groups are a good thing in some ways, so why is this any different?

  • is this active exclusion of trans people? says:

    @is this active exclusion of trans people? i guess trans* people of color don’t exist!!!

  • Missing the Point says:

    @Missing the Point Okay, #1: this is discrimination; there is no argument about that

    #2: This completely misses the point of the Vagina Monologues – which is about the full range of experiences of women. There is nothing wrong (in fact, everything right) with striving for the most diverse and representative cast possible. However, exclusion of any group of women, especially on this particular show, just completely misses the fucking point.

    I wanted to get involved with VDAY this year, but as long as this is how it’s being run I have no interest.

  • Put down the haterade says:

    @Put down the haterade Haters probably need to read up on the history of racial ones sexual violence and how the vagina monologues has failed to address it in the past =\ also how the monologues have placed WOC overwhelmingly in “victim” roles in the show in an approach devoid of all nuance with regards to transnational feminisms. This isn’t excluding women who identify as white from being involved with the productions ( there are many other roles involved in putting in a play besides acting in it) it’s simply allowing women of color to take the spotlight.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous No, it’s also forbidding women/queer folk who don’t identify as colored to participate. Which is racism, whether you like it or not.

      1. NOPE says:

        @NOPE Colored is NOT the word you want to be using “women of color” is a political term. “Colored” has a history of violence.

      2. "colored" says:

        @"colored" do you even know what racism is?

  • BC '14 says:

    @BC '14 Another white queer woman in support here.

  • mizobian@iolani.org says:

    @mizobian@iolani.org Chill out, white girls. Your vaginas get enough publicity. See you at 1020 ;)

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous @mizobian@iolani.org: this should be deleted for obvious reasons

  • Woman of cholera says:

    @Woman of cholera Can I apply?

  • HELP says:

    @HELP hi guys im a freshman white dude who isnt really good enough to be on any sports teams, not smart/motivated enough for any preprofessional or academic groups, and not cool/rich enough to be in a fraternity or anything like that. I’m just looking for some clubs to join to make some friends and stuff. thanks for your help!

    1. Van Owen says:

      @Van Owen Sucks. To. Suck.

  • hold up says:

    @hold up y’all do know all black productions of Shakespeare is a thing and like, theater of color exists???? this isn’t new???? should not be a big deal.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous All of you saying this is racist: do you believe that having colleges only for women is “reverse feminism”? Probably not. Following the same logic, having an all black cast simply acknowledges the fact that there are many different voices on campus and shows one of them.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous What fucking idiots, if they wanted to focus on Women of Color, just make that as an executive casting decision instead of provoking the greater Columbia community with a “oh look how fucking progressive we are!” bullshit rallying cry of pettiness and stupidity

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