Dear Seattle University and community members,
As you may be aware, Seattle University is sponsoring a production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues (VM) and is donating the proceeds to the Northwest Network. Break the Silence is a club on campus that supports self-determination, destigmatizing sexuality, anti-oppression advocacy and activism, and working against sexualized violence. We support community-based efforts that prioritize the liberation of all peoples, especially organizing occurring within our local community. Examples of this work include: Communities Against Rape and Abuse, the Asian & Pacific Islander Women & Family Safety Center and the Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse.
However, in light of Domestic Violence Awareness Week here at Seattle University, we are compelled to issue the following statement:
In light of our commitment to the principles and organizing efforts listed above, Break the Silence does not support or endorse the Vagina Monologues as a means of advocacy and activism. Across the United States and specifically at Seattle University, productions of the VM have continued to cast white women as women of color and gender normative women as trans women. Ensler’s Vagina Monologues itself fundamentally distorts the voices of marginalized women by allowing women with relative privilege to speak for them, which falsely sends the message that marginalized populations need people with privilege to speak on their behalf. Break the Silence takes the position that it is problematic to have a cast of actresses playing roles that they do not identify as or fully understand. Additionally, by not providing adequate context for the complex struggles facing marginalized people, the Monologues enhance highly oppressive stereotypes, for example, the docility of Korean comfort women, the aggressive sexuality of Black populations, the victimizing of Muslim women and the sexual deviancy of queer/trans folks. As VM seek to showcase the experience of the ‘other’, these voices are tokenized and are ultimately produced for a white gender-normative American audience.
We support Domestic Violence Awareness Week but do not support any production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.
the Break the Silence Collective