Of all the topics not to bring up to a Latina mom, vaginas are pretty much at the top if the list. But the production of Los Monologos de la Vagina this month aim to help women break a lot of the silence and taboos in the Latino community.
“In our community, I believe domestic violence is something we don’t want to talk about,” said Los Monologos organizer Veronica Hernandez. “It’s something that ‘oh you have to live with it and put up with it’ and it’s something we wanted to break from and empower women, especially our own Latina women, to break the silence and speak up.”
The monologues are part of V-Day, a global movement working to help end domestic violence and sexual assault. In this year’s production a cast of 10 perform monologues on a wide range of topics.
The monologues are written by Eve Ensler and Veronica says they “are true stories about the good things and bad things women experience with their vagina from first time menstruation to incest to rape.”
There are V-Day productions all over the country and the Austin cast has been preparing for their February performances since October with all proceeds from the shows going to Safeplace, an organization that provides assistance to men and women in abusive situations. While the monologues set to empower many women to come forward and seek help, it can also bring awareness of women’s issues.
“I can attest for a lot of my guy friends who came to see the monologues because they thought it was going to be dirty or vulgar or sexual and pornographic,” said cast member Andie de Luna, “and they came out and were like ‘where have I been living under a rock because I had no idea that women thought this and felt this way.”
For immigrant women, Artistic Director Caroline Sweet said, the monologues are invaluable as there is a fear of reporting instances of abuse.
“There’s is definitely always a reaction,” Caroline said, “and it’s uplifting for women to see it and to sort of think about where their power comes from, so at the end of the show we get a lot of hugs, kisses and thank you’s for doing it in Spanish because there are a lot of resources in English, but in Spanish, it doesn’t happen that often.”
The two performances are set to premiere on February 20th and 21st at the Rubio Event Center off Riverside and Veronica said their help will extend off stage with a booth filled with information for women.
“There are so many resources out there that people don’t know about because of the language barrier,” Veronica said.
First time Monologos cast member Mayra Hernandez was excited about being involved in the Spanish version of the project and nervous about the idea of her family seeing her perform a monologue about a woman getting in touch with her sexuality.
“I don’t think they know what they are getting themselves into,” Mayra said. “My mom’s just like ‘oh you’re going to be acting’ and I’m talking to my sister-in-law and I’m like ‘I’m scared now cause I’m going to be doing this part of ‘oh I had this orgasm that was accidental’ and I’m thinking that if she hears me she’s going to think it’s me and she’s going to identify everything with me.”
While it’s common for many of the cast members to give their families a heads up about show content prior to their performances, Veronica says an estimated 30 women have moved through the cast since 2007.
“The people who have joined the Monologos are teachers, counselors or social workers because they work with the Hispanic community, they see the need, and this is their way of giving back when they are off the clock,” Veronica said, “or it’s something they do for a personal reason, there has been a lot of survivors in our group and that not only empowers them but let’s them give back to give strength to people and say ‘you can do it, we can break the silence.’”
Marya, who’s also a social work graduate student at the University of Texas, said breaking the silence is a something she’s experienced firsthand.
“I am a survivor of child incest abuse, and for me, this is very important and I do it with a passion and that’s why I’m motivated about and dedicated to it because being a victim of abuse and coming from the Latino community where you tell your parents and it’s kind of like, ‘it happened, ok, that’s it’ and you never talk about it again. And so to me it’s like open your eyes this is happening and this happened and it affected me and now I want to go out there and make an awareness so it doesn’t happen again.”
Veronica said she hopes that Los Monologos de Vagina keeps going in Austin as more and more women become aware of the project.
“Eve Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues, said that in every university and every city there is a Starbucks and a V-Day, and my vision will be that someone will pick up the baton and keep the tradition going and we’re hoping that the Monologos will stay in Austin for a long time.”
Los Monologos de la Vagina
February 20, 21
Tickets: $14, for ticket information call 512-992-6996
Rubio’s Event Center
2410 Riverside Drive Suite E-3
Austin TX 78741