March 24, 2016
By: Natalie DeCesare
On April 13th students invite the community to attend the first performance of “We are Women,” an event organized by sophomore Rachel Arco to express the reality of womanhood. For those familiar with Eve Ensler’s book and performance “Vagina Monologues,” “We are Women” will address similar experiences while emphasizing women of color.
“In creating a performance that speaks to the woman’s experience, I felt that limiting women to only Eve Ensler’s work was doing a disservice to both the women performing and to the audience at large,” Arco said, “This performance will largely be done with works by women of color. In doing so, it will be more representative of the experience of women, rather than only offering the white woman’s experience.”
Arco intends for the performance to cater to the performers by having their work display their feminist identity. In doing so, each piece will contribute to a more inclusive discussion of feminism. Instead of pushing a gender-race conversation implicit to white women and black men, “We are Women” will celebrate intersectionality.
“The monologues will include themes of race, sexual identity, menstruation, the connection women have to their vaginas, and the ways in which society has attempted to make women feel shameful of their bodies,” Arco said.
As to not understate the relevance of this event to the campus climate, “We are Women” will provide powerful messages in regards to safety and equality within Southwestern’s social sphere and the extension of such empowerment to the international community for women’s rights.
“This event addresses issues of social justice on campus, for it brings to light the importance of acknowledging the dangers of gender construction, the importance of normalizing women’s bodies, the importance of intersectionality, and the cyclical violence women experience throughout their lives,” Arco said.
Besides the initiative taken by Arco, the generosity of many people and departments aided in the organization of this social activism.
“My faculty sponsor, Alex Anderson has been a wonderful help. I am very appreciative to Zoe Selbin, for she gave me the foundation that this event stands on. Ebony Stewart has also been a huge part of this event with her generosity in letting us use her works as well as wanting to work with the performers. In addition, I have received support from many different departments on campus and their contributions have made this event possible,” Arco said.
“We are Women” comes at a prominent time of national and social debate about women issues. USA Today recently published an article about a group of women suing to eliminate the “pink tax,” or a higher cost for women versions of the same products for men. Southwestern University Planned Piratehood is scheduled to meet with administrators to continue facilitating the petition for a Zero-Tolerance Policy. And Harvard University has appeared frequently in the news for its Sexual Assault and Prevention Task Force’s recommendations to address an unsafe social climate. With all these conversations circulating, “We are Women” will bring Southwestern into the necessary dialogue Arco says is necessary to escape oppression.”