Vaginas from all over UCSB will come together today to celebrate women, their reproductive organs and the fight against sexual and domestic violence.
In an effort to educate students about V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, the Women’s Ensemble Theater Troupe (WETT) is hosting a festival in Storke Plaza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. WETT will also perform “The Vagina Monologues” at Campbell Hall on Friday. Victoria Knowles, a third-year women’s studies major and the president of WETT, said the festival will provide games and an arts and crafts fair, as well as a sale of paintings, jewelry and “vagina valentines.” Naked Voices, a student a cappella group, is also slated to perform. She said the main purpose of V-Day, also known as “Victory Over Violence Day and “Vagina Day,” is to educate students on issues such as the political rights of women, experiences among women from different ethnic groups and sexual and domestic violence.
“People suffer from sexual violence, but we don’t recognize it,” Knowles said. “V-Day is one of those days to recognize that it does happen, to raise awareness and use our power to confront it.”
The event will try to empower women and their vaginas, Knowles said.
“We’re going to make an environment that makes talking about vaginas not taboo,” Knowles said. “We’re trying to facilitate dialogue about the vagina.”
Knowles said profits from the V-Day celebration will go to the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Domestic Violence Solutions and female victims of domestic violence in Iraq.
“The threat of violence against women in Iraq has escalated since the war began, and we’re trying to inform people about that,” she said.
The V-Day event will also address sexual violence that occurs on campus and in student-populated areas like Isla Vista, Knowles said.
“The university doesn’t acknowledge a lot of the sexual violence around here,” she said. “When they say there’s no rape on campus, they mean on campus – literally.”
Knowles said although the topic of domestic violence is serious, the event will concentrate on the positive goal of change.
“It’s a global epidemic – but we try not to make it too depressing; [instead we are] offering an outlet for change that is bold and empowering,” she said.
Knowles also said men should organize and create a V-Day event of their own to addresses issues specific to men.
“Men just haven’t come together to organize a penis festival yet,” Knowles said. “I would love to go to one.”
V-Day is celebrated every year around Valentines Day and was invented by Eve Ensler, the creator of “The Vagina Monologues,” in 1998. According to V-Day’s website, V-Day was created after Ensler “saw and heard firsthand the destructive personal, social, political and economic consequences [of] violence against women” while she was performing her play throughout the world. V-Day was first celebrated on the UCSB campus in 2001, and events to commemorate it are held in 76 countries.