Eliana Piper ’14: ‘The Little Coochi Snorcher that Could’

By Sophie O ' Mahony | 1/29/12 11:33am

COUR TESY OF DART MOUTH CEN TER FOR WOMEN AND GEN DER


 

It would be wrong to say that "The Vagina Mono logues" byEve En sleris just a piece of the­ater to be per formed on a stage by a group of anony mous ac tors, to be watched and then for got ten. To say this would be to mis un der stand what the play is all about.

"The Vagina Mono logues" is the heart of a much larger event — namelyV-Week, com menc­ing Feb. 19. V-Week is Dart mouth's yearly late Feb ru ary cam paign to end vi o lence against women. The week is co or di nated by the stu dent group V-Day Dart mouth and ad vised by staff at theCen ter for Women & Gen der.

Per form ing in "The Vagina Mono logues" my self, I un der es ti mated just how all-en com pass­ing the ex pe ri ence would be. For me, "The Vagina Mono logues" not only em bod ies sis ter­hood and fe male power but also reaches out to men, ask ing them to en gage in a di a logue with us. I sat down and talked with other mem bers of the pro duc tion to see what being in­volved in "The Vagina Mono logues" means to them.

 

Eliana Piper ’14 is per form ing the mono logue “The Lit tle Coochi Snorcher That Could,” in which a woman speaks about the trau matic sex ual ex pe ri ences of her child hood.

I’ve only ever come across the term “Coochi Snorcher” inThe Vagina Mono logues.I sup­pose it’s a re gional thing — my char ac ter comes from the South. It’s a rather play ful name, I sup pose the typ i cal name that a fe male child would call their vagina. It makes it fluffy and cute. But I think that’s also what makes my mono logue so sin is ter. It’s a name that’s forced on her, just as sex u al ity was forced on her when she was raped as a lit tle girl. When she meets the woman at the end of the mono logue and be comes a sex ual being will ingly, it’s the first time that her “Coochi Snorcher” be comes a beau ti ful thing — she makes it her own.

Fe male sex u al ity is heav ily down played.There’s cer tainly a dou ble stan dard in the con text of re li gion and so ci ety. Women are meant to be vir ginal and pure. Sex u al ity is def i nitely not an open topic. So to call the vagina by its name — “Vagina” — de fies this at ti tude. It’s not ex actly sugar coat ing the fact that women have sex or gans. It is a slightly scary label, though — rem i nis cent of sci ence lessons and the doc tor’s of fice. It’s in your face.

My mom’s a sex ther a pist, so back home sex and fe male sex u al ity are not sub jects that are glossed over.I was taught that it’s re ally healthy and a good thing to know about your sex­u al ity. But I know that most of my friends are hes i tant to talk about it at all, not just with their par ents. Peo ple just aren’t com fort able bring ing that kind of stuff up.

The Vagina Mono loguesare not a les bianic rant.They cover every as pect of women’s sex­u al ity, and of course les bian ism is a part of it, but it’s not the only thing. There’s a lot of focus on the re la tion ships be tween men and women.

Rape is a very big part ofThe Vagina Mono logues, but it’s not just phys i cal — it’s also men tal and meta phys i cal.With a lot of the char ac ters sex u al ity is taken away from them. They’re not ac tive in their sex u al ity. They’re not al lowed to de fine it for them selves.

I’ve done a lot of trav el ing around the world, and I’ve seen a lot of help less and op pressed women.But women can be pow er less here in the States, also. Too often we are blind to what’s going on here at home. We who are priv i leged to study at Dart mouth have a re spon­si bil ity to make things right.The Vagina Mono loguespre sent a lot of top ics that aren’t gen­er ally talked about, but we need to get dis cus sion going on cam pus.

The Vagina Mono loguesare not anti-men.They are pro-women. It’s easy to say, “Hey, where are all the men?” when there’s a lot of focus on the women, but lack of men does not mean that they are the enemy.The Vagina Mono loguesare dis cussing the is sues of women.


Sophie O ' Mahony