Yoni Ki Baat—the South Asian Vagina monologues

On February 7th the Grind was packed with eager Clarkies waiting for Yoni Ki Baat—the South Asian Vagina monologues—to start. Yoni in Sanskrit means the Vagina and Yoni Ki baat, assumed to be quite similar to the Vagina Monologues, are monologues on sex, abuse, assault, discrimination and pleasure experienced by the women in South Asia.

Yoni Ki Baat (YKB), performed annually in San Francisco, was created by a group of diverse strong-headed South Asian women called the South Asian Sisters (http://www.southasiansisters.org/index.html) . Monologues performed at Clark’s very own YKB were a combination of those written by the original South Asian Sisters and others written/compiled by Clarkies themselves.

The South Asian Student Association (SASA) is always known to put up a great YKB every year. However, having attended two other YKBs during my time here, I personally felt that this was one of the biggest, most relatable and unique YKBs so far. Many exceptional new pieces were introduced in the show and many very well-written pieces as well. There were first-year Clarkies who showed their utmost enthusiasm by writing and performing their own pieces with grace and confidence. It was absolutely amazing to see so many wonderful individuals put so much work into promoting and educating others about the issues that women face in South Asia.

My favorites from the show were ‘Rape culture’ performed by Bhumika Regmi, ‘Women there are so oppressed’ by Meyru Bhanti and ‘Mum’s the word’ by Lubaina Selani. Bhumika’s piece brought together discriminatory experiences women face, since childhood, and how it’s time to change people’s mentality and break this long chain of discrimination passed on from one generation to the other. Meyru’s piece, on the other hand, was a more light-toned-sarcastic-funny piece (as the title may suggest) that talked about very important perceptions of feminism in the first world and the third world. Last but not the least, Lubaina’s very intimate personal monologue talked about a 20-something women finding it hard to share all her experiences and heartbreak with her own mother—a very common phenomenon in the South Asian culture.

Having performed in this year’s YKB as well, I got a first row view as to how much work actually takes place to put on shows like these. Hours and weeks of rehearsing, memorizing, improving and providing constructive feedback to performers were immensely challenging and time consuming tasks. But it was all worth it when I was up on stage—nervous, excited, unsure and confident… all of it all together! It felt amazing to hear a room full of people cheer and clap after showcasing something you put weeks into making perfect! It was such an amazing experience that I was actually suffering from YKB-withdrawal afterwards!

It’s always great to attend events at Clark that try to give you new outlook and insight to world issues through unique events such as vagina monologues. It truly engages the audiences and makes sure everyone has something to take home with them. As an aware South Asian I wouldn’t say this was the first time I had heard of these issues. However, I still took with me a non-South Asian community that was now aware and quite supportive of a very big part of my culture.

-Brown and Proud! Suaida Firoze

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