“You were born from a vagina!” yelled a girl in a vagina costume on Locust Walk.
This is a part of The Vagina Monologues’ annual advertising campaign — which has been stepped up since the movement started on campus 13 years ago.
The Vagina Monologues, a movement to combat violence against women, has been a phenomenon that has spread across campus universities nationwide. An important part of the success of the movement has been the fundraising and advertising effort on the part of the cast, crew and community.
“We got more creative with how to use partnerships this year … we changed the structure of the crew and broke down into working groups and committees,” College senior and Producer of Vagina Monologues Isabel Friedman said.
Some of the fundraising events for Vagina Monologues this year include V-Downtown, Cyberpussy, Moregasm and One Billion Rising, as well as smaller food fundraisers sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s and Insomnia Cookies.
“One thing that’s nice about the Vagina Monologues is that there are a lot of [donation] options we give people that are all very small,” said College senior and Publicity Chair Ellie Levitt, a former Daily Pennsylvanian and 34th Street staff member. “This opens up the scope of fundraising because it doesn’t have to be a big donation, but individually, people are connected to the cause.”
The focus of their fundraising campaign this year was about positive sexual relationships.
“We choose to emphasize one of the many aspects [of the movement] every year … and we thought this would cater to men and women all over campus,” Levitt said. “Many of the messages in The Vagina Monologues are very heavy and we wanted to demonstrate that the way to fix some of these heavier problems in the world is to have a more positive approach in your relationships with others.”
Two events that are new this year, Moregasm and Cyberpussy, are keeping with the change in approach that the Vagina Monologues cast and crew is taking.
“I think my favorite [fundraiser] this year was Moregasm just because it was such an unexpected success in a lot of ways, like the diversity of people we got there,” College senior and Fundraising Chair Ashleigh Taylor said. “The amount of money we raised was nothing like we thought it would be.”
Social media has also become an important part of fundraising, according to Levitt.
Cyberpussy — an event on social media and online publications which gave members of the community an opportunity to donate money to the movement — was intended to be a huge online fundraiser enabling more of the Penn community to get involved.
“It’s helped us tremendously to have resources like Twitter and Instagram in order to get the word out,” Levitt said. “We have individuals who are in charge of each social media outlet on the crew and they have done a phenomenal job.”
The Vagina Monologues has not only broadened its scope on campus but also received support from more groups including the Wharton Alliance, Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women, the Women’s Center and some fraternities. Additionally, academically oriented groups have also contributed to the cause, such as the Cinema Studies Department, Kelly Writers House, and the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Department, according to Taylor.
Ultimately members agreed that although the message remains the same from year to year, the focus of fundraising and campaigning efforts changes.
“This year our greater theme was to take a more sex-positive theme to ending sexual violence against women … it’s a healing process for survivors, asking, ‘How do I reclaim my sense of self?’” Friedman said. “I think that if we’re talking about attitudes about sex being more positive and healthy then we can’t just talk about ending sexual violence alone, but about the ideal — which is to have really great relationships.”
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