It’s nearly Valentine’s Day at Georgetown, and two things are certain: There will be a production of the Vagina onologues, and there will be a debate about the play’s appropriateness on a Catholic and Jesuit campus.

It’s true that the show includes a lot of moaning, gyrating and some profanity. Very much rooted in the movement for women’s sexual liberation, “The Vagina onologues” contains overtones so explicit that certain parts make even the most brazen of us blush. The show tells tales of taboo, from the transgressive to the transgendered, and makes no apology for its forthrightness. And, of course, there is the uncomfortable repetition of that irksome, three-syllable word – vagina – in all its euphemistic forms.

Between the orgasms and the sex talk, though, there’s something more important: women’s stories, stories of oppression and liberation, of violence and pleasure, of embarrassment and reclamation. It’s a play about calling forth and examining our conceptions of women, sexuality and gender. The point of “The Vagina Monologues” is neither to titillate nor shock – though at times it does both – the point is to start a conversation about the issues so many women do not discuss.

I decided to join the cast for the first time as a senior for a number of complicated reasons, not the least of which being that the production allowed me to finally say out loud and to an audience the things that I have kept quiet as I developed my identity as a woman and as a Hoya.

Coming to Georgetown, I was a young woman recovering from four years of what I will call “body image hell,” a part of my life I am only now acknowledging in public. Navigating the sea of awkward social and sexual situations on this campus proved an intensely confusing prospect. And in the three and a half years since, I’ve watched women attempt to find their way through that same space silently, without a place to explore and examine exactly how all those nights in short skirts around a keg in Alumni Square make them – and their vaginas – feel.

But the much greater importance of a production like “The Vagina Monologues” is that it doesn’t just speak to me, and it doesn’t just speak about sex. No one ever guesses that the leggy blonde majors in economics, not English, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the assumption that any female student who identifies publicly as a lesbian is a Women’s Studies major.

Statistically, one in four women will be victim of a sexual assault before they graduate from college – many of those attacks occurring on our campus, in our dorms or at our parties. And I would bet that at one time or another, the vast majority of female students at Georgetown have felt in some way inadequate: too smart, too dumb, too big, too small, too loud, too shy, too open, too frigid, too dark, too light, too hairy – too something to fit whatever it is someone else thought a woman should be.

And that’s the beauty of “The Vagina onologues” – it’s for all of us: the men and the women, the performers and the audience, the feminists and the rest of us. It’s a compilation of hundreds of women’s stories. It represents the many, many ways those of us born with the female anatomy experience and express what makes us women. It’s a cry for men and women to come together and work to stop gender violence.

“The Vagina Monologues” is the international phenomenon that speaks up for the silent and recalls the campus conversation that brings up the questions we don’t have the courage to ask.

So come and hear our moans. But don’t forget to listen to our stories, too.

Chrissy A. Balz is a senior in the College, a cast member of The Vagina Monologues and a staff writer for THE HOYA.

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