By Meg Schmitt
Like most events at Grinnell, it involved sex and giggling. This Friday and Saturday, Grinnell Monologues (G-Mons) maintained the event’s purpose of providing a “dedicated safe space for Grinnellians to talk about sex, sexuality, bodies and relationships” in two hours of personal, intimate, awkward and entertaining monologues.
G-Mons, modeled after Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, brought students together in their experiences and revelations in love, sex and identity at Grinnell, as it has for the last twelve years. The seventeen students performed poignant tales of lessons learned, revelations made and struggles conquered—or yet to be.
Some people use G-Mons as an outlet for the frustration, confusion or disappointment they confront in college and life; others, as a moment of self-awareness, a meta-moment of our lives in the grand scheme of young adulthood.
Each monologue shed a different color of light on its own topic, welcoming listeners in with intriguing titles—everything from the innocent “The Debutante” to the somewhat bizarre “Knot Your Average Shopping Spree” and heartfelt “Origin Story.”
A fair number of monologues recounted an awkward but rewarding exploration of sexual horizons, lessons learned in love and “like,” and facing and embracing sexuality. Many others made declarations of their newfound self-acceptance and self-appreciation, or questioned the socially sanctioned behaviors or opinions by which we all seem to inexplicably abide. Sprinkled in with the monologues of sexual discovery and mystery were stories of personal conflict and conviction, struggles and victories.
Some monologues left the listener with a take-home message. But not all stories in life are that simple, and several monologues admitted to just that; there isn’t a happy ending for every problem or experience we encounter.
Regardless, it didn’t matter whether it was an inconsequential-in-the-grand-scheme or existentially life-changing story, each was told with the real-life rawness that comes with experience and leaves a very real impact. The monologues didn’t require complete agreement to be appreciated for the insight they offered.
G-Mons never fails to entertain and engage the audience, whether in profound empathy with the speaker or through inspiring new perspectives on common situations. However, not all monologues achieve the very meta-moment that makes them so profound; are some monologues being reduced to ineffective complaints or self-indulgent proclamations?
Those monologues that were about personal growth, that found inspiration from their experience, received fewer laughs and more pensive silence—perhaps that silence speaks further than the accolades that other more humorous stories garnered. Maybe it is these stories—those that strike at the core of self-development—that have made G-Mons the staple in Grinnell culture it is.
None of this is to say that the more amusing experiences shared by many of the students were insignificant. On the contrary, the sharing of sexy-lovey stories, which feel bizarre and unusual in our lives, with people who frequently have had similar thoughts and stories themselves, is extraordinarily valuable.
The sense of solidarity and support created in G-Mons is a tremendous example of Grinnell at its best as a close-knit, united community.
I have the most earnest respect and admiration for all the Grinnellians who participated for sharing their awkward experiences, touching emotional revelations and valuable perspectives. They go where many other safe-space, sex-themed events at Grinnell do not, by encouraging emotional and personal growth, and healthy communication and interaction when we often have a tendency to bottle up, teenage-style.
It is in the reflections of the monologues—the lessons learned and taught, the community support built up around these true-to-life experiences—which make G-Mons a Grinnellian asset.