Sometimes stripping down is the best way to make a statement.
Last night, Houston Hall played host to the “BARE” Fashion Show put on by the Vagina Monologues that made a bold statement about rape culture and violence. The walls were plastered with neon signs that read “Rape is NEVER justified,” “I refuse to feel like a victim” and “Consent is sexy.”
The show opened with a monologue performed by College junior and 34th Street editor Rosa Escandon called “My Short Skirt,” proclaiming that just because a woman wears a short skirt, it is not an invitation for sex.
When the models started walking, the crowd started cheering. Sparsely clothed models of all genders paraded down the runway holding more signs declaring messages of their independence and demanding consent. The crowd snapped their fingers for men whose bare chests read messages like “1 in 4,” and “This doesn’t mean yes.” Women in nothing but their underwear painted their legs with the words “My body, my rules.”
The room filled with cheers when a man walked out dressed like a vagina. After a particularly bold monologue about derogatory names for the vagina, the entire room started shouting the word “cunt.”
But however bold the event, the tone was serious. The group sought to tackle the ideas of rape culture and blaming the victims of sexual assaults.
Vagina Monologues member and College junior Dani Castillo said, “We did this because it’s so many positive messages being conveyed all at once. We should all be proud of our bodies, and we shouldn’t feel ashamed for what we choose to wear. And, more than anything, no victim should ever feel like an attack was [his or her] fault.”
The notion of victim shaming has been growing in prominence in today’s society, and other national organizations and events like the “Slut Walk” have aimed to highlight the same issues across the country.
“We really hope to start a discussion on campus about rape culture and body image,” said Vagina Monologues’ events coordinator and College junior Alexis Richards. “They’re both here, and I feel like they’re swept under the rug a lot. I want people to know that we care and we’re here to fight it.”
After the event, attendees lingered to speak with the models and discuss the importance of the issue and their own personal connection to it.
“I came here for the cause,” College junior Joy Mckinley said. “This is something that happens way too often and it’s not talked about enough. Things like this are what’s going to change that.”