Each year the on-campus group, The Women of Amherst, performs a show by the same name modeled after Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. The show highlights stories of love, pain, assault, friendship, growth, joy, and sex -and is entirely written by cast members themselves. The 2012 Women of Amherst production brought issues of rape and sexual assault on the Amherst College campus to the forefront of the school’s consciousness. Many audience members were surprised and deeply saddened to learn about their peers’ traumatic experiences. Some even questioned the legitimacy of some of the pieces.
The start of the ’12/’13 academic year witnessed a tidal wave of survivors’ truths -truths which had been silenced for far too long on campus and in our communities. People began to carve safe spaces to tell their stories of guilt, shame, survival, courage, and strength. It was heartbreaking, and it was beautiful. Survivors, professors, reporters, allies, and bystanders engaged in critical conversations about the past, present, and future of sexual safety at Amherst. The Women of Amherst applaud the broader community for participating in dialogue about issues so relevant to the group and to survivors everywhere. By the same token, however, The Women of Amherst seeks to remind its audience that there is more to sex in college than fear and danger. Women and men can -and often do- celebrate their sexual selves in ways that are healthy and admirable.
It will be interesting to see what the 2013 Women of Amherst production brings.