Vaginal discourse reconnecting the female body through performance
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Vaginal Discourse: Reconnecting the Female Body Through Performance. Delaenya Stapleton McNair Scholars Program University of California, Davis Department of Women and Gender Studies Professor Juana María Rodríguez. “I bet you’re worried. I was worried. That’s why I began this piece.

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Vaginal Discourse:Reconnecting the Female Body Through Performance

Delaenya Stapleton

McNair Scholars Program

University of California, Davis

Department of Women and Gender Studies

Professor Juana María Rodríguez


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“I bet you’re worried. I was worried.

That’s why I began this piece.

I was worried about vaginas.

I was worried about what we think about vaginas,

and even more worried that we don’t think about them.

I was worried about my own vagina.

It needed a context of other vaginas—

a community, a culture of vaginas.

There’s so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them—

like the Bermuda Triangle.

Nobody ever reports back from there.”

– Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues


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Research Focus

  • This research evaluates intersections of gender, identity, experience, trauma and performance by studying the personal impact of performing “The Vagina Monologues.”


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Background

  • V-Day Foundation

  • V-Day Campaign

  • Benefit Performances

  • Anti-violence Platform

  • Performance As Resistance

  • Activism

  • Healing


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Methods & Materials

  • Ethnographic Questionnaire

    designed to reveal the personal

    impact of the performances

    distributed electronically via email

  • Discourse Analysis

    examining the intersections of gender,

    trauma, identity and performance







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Expanding the Archives of Trauma

“[T]rauma as a category that embraces a range of affects, including not just loss and mourning but also anger, shame, humor, sentimentality, and more”.

Ann Cvetkovich

Archive of Feelings


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After being exposed to this work, has the way you view or approach your body changed?

“I became much more proud of being a woman. It is easy to become self-degrading about yourself, when you are continuously subjected to a barrage of “women are less intelligent, women are affected by their hormones, etc.” It is a very damaging environment. After performing in the Vagina Monologues, and seeing the pride these women took in their bodies, and their experiences, I was able to be proud of my body, even when society largely told me I should be ashamed of certain aspects”.

Participant #36, Question #4


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Navigating Cultural Logics approach your body changed?


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Navigating Cultural Logics approach your body changed?

“[I]dentities are formed in response to the cultural logics of heteronormativity, white supremacy, and misogyny —cultural logics that … work to undergird state power”.

José Esteban Muñoz Disidentifications


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What are you political and/or personal motivations for being involved in the production?

“I believe the V-Day is a catalyst for change. It gives women and girls power and a place to combine and find their collective voice. It gives them the courage and support they need to stand up against the epidemic levels of violence and sexism. It reminds us that our bodies, vaginas, and sexuality are not to be ashamed of. It gives us the opportunity to share this idea with others and open up dialogue in our communities”.

Participant #67, Question #3


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Conclusion involved in the production?

Performing “The Vagina Monologues” has

enabled young women to confront culturally induced internalized shame, secrecy and embarrassment surrounding their vaginas. Thus establishing a positive mind-body connection with their vaginas, resulting in an increase in their feelings of self-esteem.


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Possibilities for Future Exploration involved in the production?

  • Alternative communities

  • Social and political activism

  • Personal empowerment

  • Religion

  • Sexuality

  • Phallic-centered society

  • Public and private divide


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Acknowledgements involved in the production?

  • Survey participants

  • Professor Juana María Rodríguez

  • McNair Scholars Program

  • Presidents Undergraduate Fellowship

  • V-Day Foundation

  • McNair Cohorts

  • Eve Ensler

  • The Original Vagina Warriors


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Vaginal Discourse: involved in the production?Reconnecting the Female Body Through Performance

Delaenya Stapleton

McNair Scholars Program

University of California, Davis

Department of Women and Gender Studies

Professor Juana María Rodríguez


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