The name of “The Vagina Monologues” may raise eyebrows and questions, but its message is simple: raise awareness about violence against women and children.
The award-winning play will debut in Crescent City this weekend.
Twenty-six local women will read monologues compiled by Eve Ensler, a playwright and founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.
The monologues read in the play are the stories of more than 200 women interviewed by Ensler — some stories are funny, others moving.
Local organizer Benita Cabrera, the facilitator of the Teen Success program for teen parents, said she hopes “The Vagina Monologues” will bring more awareness to Del Norte County about abuse of women and children.
“It’s a huge issue in our community,” Cabrera said. “We really need the education here. Education is the most important way to stop the violence.”
The focus of V-Day is abuse against women, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery, according to its website, vday.org. Communities worldwide hold events, such as performing “The Vagina Monologues,” to raise money and awareness from Feb. 1 to April 30. The “V” stands for victory, valentine and vagina, according to the website.
“This is a way to share the experiences women have had and raise awareness and funds for our agencies that help them,” Cabrera said.
Money raised by the performances of “The Vagina Monologues” will benefit the North Coast Rape Crisis Team, Six Rivers Planned Parenthood, Inter Tribal Council of California Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program and Smith River Rancheria Community and Family Services.
As a counselor for Rape Crisis, Cabrera said she knows first-hand about the amount of abuse that happens in Del Norte.
In 2011, Rape Crisis provided services to 140 women and 36 girls under the age of 18, but there are many others who never report abuse, she said.
“That’s a small percentage of who were actually abused or assaulted,” she said.
Proceeds of “The Vagina Monologues” will go to the agencies that provide services to local women and children, Cabrera said.
The women performing monologues range in age from 20-something to 60-something, Cabrera said, adding “these women are just wonderful.”
She stressed that they are not telling their own stories, but those of anonymous women that are true.
Cabrera said she has received some backlash from people about bringing “The Vagina Monologues” to Del Norte, but she thinks the concerns are from a lack of understanding about what the play is about and its purpose.
By hearing the stories of women being abused, those in the audience might be able to recognize if someone they know is being abused and help them in some way, Cabrera said.
“If they see signs of someone being abused they can offer support to that person even if they don’t report it,” she said. “If we’re aware these things are happening to kids in our community, we can offer hope and support.”
If some people have an aversion to the stories, it’s likely because it’s triggering a feeling that makes them uncomfortable because they have been abused or they had no idea that such things have happened to other people, Cabrera said.
“It’s sad,” she said, “but it’s important to talk about it.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “The Vagina Monologues”
WHEN: Saturday at 7 p.m., April 7 at 7 p.m. and April 14 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Saturday at College of the Redwoods-Del Norte library, April 7 at Lucky 7 Tolowa Event Center, April 14 at Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center
TICKETS: $10, available at Del Norte Office Supply