Me Too Monologues – UNC’s Annual Performance on Identity

The following is a guest article submitted by Me Too Monologues – an annual performance by UNC students on identity.  The author is Ruthie Allen, a student that works as a director on the monologues.  

1. Can you give a brief overview of what the Me Too Monologues are?

Every year, students can write a monologue and submit them to us.  The monologues can focus on an aspect of the student’s identity or an experience, it could be a commentary on our university or the world around us, etc.  No limits! Essentially, students allow their lived experience of inequality/struggle/etc to inform their art and share their story.  Once we receive these monologues, we select around 20 pieces, hold auditions, and bam we’ve got a show in the works!

2. Do you focus on a specific theme each year or is it pretty flexible in terms of submissions?

We’re flexible.  People can write and share whatever they feel like needs to be shared.

3. What is the goal of Me Too Monologues?

To strengthen our community through vulnerable truth and narrative.  Authors, actors, directors, producers, stage managers, audience members- we’re all a part of it and I think this project impacts people in different ways. But being a part of it in any capacity creates a unique sense of connection with our own student body and community that can’t come any other way.  Coming and hearing these monologues is also just important for the soul.

4. What issue often gets brought up in the monologues the most, if there is one?

That’s hard to answer, because many of the pieces are intersect multiple issues.  But in a broad sense, I would say mental health is key component for the majority of the monologues.

5.  How does this relate to the current political climate we live in?

Art and politics are inherently linked.  Art, public opinion, politics, and public policy have a complexly linked cyclical relationship.  We’re currently in a political climate that is emotionally draining.  There is language that actively discourages the voices and mere existence of so many.  People of color, immigrants, trans people, gender nonbinary people, queer people of all kinds, those with mental illness, those that have experienced unwanted sexual encounters, the list goes on (and many people intersect multiple of these identities) are being targeted.  I think that artists- GOOD artists- have a responsibility to respond to inequality and unfairness around them.  That’s why Me Too needs to exist.  We NEED this space for people to be authentically heard and understood- both for the people that wrote the pieces and for the people hearing them that connect with the stories and feelings expressed. While Me Too Monologues has no affiliation with Tarana Burke’s Me Too Movement, the general ideas are similar.  In response to a lack of visibility, we want to share stories that will connect our community, which allows us, together, to actively name and address the inequality that takes up space in our community.

6. What is the impact of it being anonymous and performed by actors?

People that aren’t comfortable performing deserve to be heard too!  So on a logistical level, Me Too is set up the way it is so that people that don’t necessarily want themselves in the spotlight to still be heard and still have a platform.  I think that giving people the option to submit anonymously might make submitting such a vulnerable piece a bit less intimidating.

7. Do you think one day these topics can be discussed without any anonymity?

Absolutely!  And they already are in many spaces.  We allow anonymity because we live in a culture of shame, so we sometimes naturally feel shame or embarrassment about our own stories/identities.  Or sometimes sharing can be truly dangerous.  That’s why anonymity can make us feel safer or logistically make us safer when being vulnerable and leaning into discomfort, and it’s important to feel safe!  But I certainly don’t think that means anonymity is a requirement for these types of conversations.

We at The Arc would like to extend our upmost gratitude to Me Too Monologues for submitting this article.  

The Necessity of Contraceptives on College Campuses

The University of Notre Dame was recently in the news for deciding to deny birth control coverage to its students and employees.  This was a result of a recent decision from the Trump administration, saying that organizations could deny to provide contraceptives based on religious and moral objections.

Yet, the debate over whether or not schools and employers should be allowed to deny contraceptives due to religious or moral objections has been occurring for years and became more heated after the Affordable Care Act mandate that demanded this coverage.  Notre Dame, a historically Catholic university, has sued in the past for an exemption from the Obama administration’s rules, although that lawsuit was unsuccessful.  The university has also been criticized in the past by students who believed that they did not receive adequate resources. Prior to the most recent decision, Notre Dame students were able to get birth control through a third-party coverage plan.  However, the campus pharmacy refused to provide the medication to anybody who did not have a reason outside of pregnancy prevention.  Students with both on and off campus insurance plans struggled to get their prescriptions refilled.

People who take birth control pills do so for a variety of health reasons.   Contraceptives can help with irregular period cycles, painful cramping, and even acne.  They also help countless women who deal with conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, which can both be incredibly debilitating.  For somebody with one of these diagnoses, access to birth control could have a significant impact on their quality of life.  A recent study also showed that women who take birth control pills for an extended period of time have a decreased risk of certain cancers.

Yet, even if somebody does take contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, this is a completely valid reason in and of itself.  Wanting to have safe sex without the risk of pregnancy is not something anybody should have to feel ashamed about.  The recent follow-up statement from Notre Dame, which says that students who have a demonstrated medical need would still be able to get a prescription, is not an adequate or humane policy.  Nobody should have to justify the decisions they make with their body to anybody else.  Somebody’s own personal objections should not have a negative impact on somebody else’s ability to choose and their own wellbeing.  It is time to stop interfering in women’s health and to provide them with the medical resources they need.

Author: Veronica Correa

The Siren – UNC’s Feminist Magazine

The following is a guest article submitted by The Siren – a feminist magazine located on the campus of UNC.  The author is Rachel Maguire, a Co-Editor of The Siren.

1. What is the goal of The Siren on UNC’s campus?

Siren’s goal is essentially to spread feminist messages across campus, to people who may or may not already be informed on feminist issues.  Our Mission is stated as such on our website, “The Siren is a student-produced publication at UNC-Chapel Hill that advocates an intersectional feminist analysis of our environments, both individual and institutional.  Our feminism strives to confront and acknowledge gender inequity, misogyny, white supremacy, ableism, transphobia, classism, ageism, imperialism and other systems of oppression.  We provide readers, members, and our communities a platform to share their experiences.”

2. Why is it called “The Siren”?

As per our website, “In Greek mythology, the Sirens were enchanted creatures sporting the head of a woman and the body of a bird.  With their irresistible songs, the Sirens lured sea mariners toward land and rocky graves.  We learn in “The Odyssey” that the Sirens’ songs, while deadly, were also full of wisdom.  Hearing this, the hero Odysseus decides to try his fate by tying himself to the mast of his ship, but not before having his sailors put wax in their ears to protect them. Courage and restraint enable Odysseus to hear and learn from the Sirens’ songs. He is then empowered to change his destiny.  He makes it past the islands safely.
 We at The Siren want to help change our future for the better as well.  At first our message, like that of the Sirens’, may evoke fear.  The terms feminism, women’s rights, gender equality, gay rights and civil rights may cause many people to turn a deaf ear, like Odysseus’ sailors.  But if you take the time to read our stories, you’ll find our songs full of wisdom and experience, too.  We wish you good reading and hope our songs might inspire you as well.” To me, this means that we have a strong and influential message that we want to spread to our community that will hopefully influence a positive change in our environment.

3.  Each semester The Siren makes a zine focusing on a theme or topic.  Why did you pick a zine as your platform to do this?

So we published a zine this semester, but we also published a traditional magazine that is centered around the theme of home and family.  We created the zine that we published this semester, which can be found at the following link, because we wanted to explore our creative sides.  Each page in this was created by a Siren member during the length of a two hour meeting; there was no central theme or any formal structure.  We just wanted to create.

4.  Do you all work closely with any other organizations on campus?

Siren has been an integral organization in creating and leading the Carolina Feminist Coalition, a coalition made up of many different feminist centered organizations on campus, such as Siren, FSU, CAGE, Embody, One Act, The Bridge, and many more.  We work closely with other organizations when planning and executing any coalition event. This semester, we have had two mix and mingles and one “Paint It Purple for RVAM”, where we raised over $400 for the Compass Center.

5.  Is there a pressing feminist issue you think is extremely salient today?

One very salient feminist issue that exists today is that of reproductive rights.  Obviously the president and his administration are anti-abortion, have reinstated the global gag rule, and I am sure have and will continue to push their anti-choice agenda.  Whether or not this will impact the state of North Carolina is more up to the governor, but I do know that a very concerning bill has popped up in the House, and the majority of NC House Representatives are in support of it.  The bill would criminalize abortion after 6 weeks, a period of time in which women have barely found out they’re pregnant.  Of course, this bill would be in violation of Roe v. Wade, so it’s unlikely to get far, but it’s still disheartening that so many representatives want abortion to be illegal so badly.

6.  What ways do you think UNC could be “more feminist”, either spatially, policy-wise, etc?

I think that UNC needs to be more racially diverse.  This campus is overpopulated with white people and that leads to many white women dominating feminist spaces, whether intentionally or not.  I believe that white students in feminist spaces can combat this by making it a point to acknowledge their white privilege and actively seek WoC feminist perspectives, be sure to not center or elevate their voices over WoC, and support WoC activists and feminist organizations on campus, such as The Bridge.

7.  What direction do you all think feminism is going in?

I think that feminist is currently splitting into two basic groups – groups who embrace intersectionality and groups that actively deny it.  I personally think that the only type of feminism that is true feminist has to be intersectional.  Sadly, I know that some cis women are trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) and think that trans woman are not ‘real’ women and therefore should be excluded from women only spaces.  This is a definite split that I’ve seen debated in feminist spaces.  Thankfully, most feminists that I know at UNC openly embrace and practice intersectional feminism, but the fact that TERFs exist is worrying and frightening, and I am a bit worried to see what will happen with this debate in the future.

We at The Arc would like to extend our upmost gratitude to The Siren for submitting this article.