by Gabriella Pisano ’18
Ingrid Brugnoli-Ensin ’18 has found her home at Providence College in what some might consider the least acknowledged areas of the College. During her freshman year, Brugnoli-Ensin joined Women Will, a club that focuses on women’s and gender issues. Women Will quickly became Brugnoli-Ensin’s favorite thing she was involved in at PC. “It’s shaped my friendships, my academic and political interests, and virtually my entire experience at PC,” she said.
Brugnoli-Ensin explained how through Women Will co-sponsoring events with other clubs and organizations, she was able to meet great people and become even more involved. “Women Will introduced me to The Vagina Monologues and the Women’s Studies department,” she said. “It’s given me a voice when it sometimes feels like I don’t have one at PC.”
Brugnoli-Ensin is a health policy and management and women’s studies double major. Many of her extracurricular activities deal with issues relating to her areas of study. At the end of her freshman year, Brugnoli-Ensin was elected onto the executive board of Women Will and she has served as the club’s president for the past two years. Similarly, she joined a group of students who produced Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues, her first year at PC and has been serving on the executive board of this organization since her sophomore year.
In addition to Brugnoli-Ensin’s involvement in Women Will and The Vagina Monologues, she has been a mentor for the Liberal Arts Honors Program. It was through the Honors Program that she met two of The Vagina Monologues’ executive board members.
With The Vagina Monologues, playwright Ensler started a global movement, V-DAY, to end violence against women and girls around the globe. Brugnoli-Ensin explained, “The monologues are everything from shocking to humorous to offensive, but they’re all real experiences of women.” This year, 22 female PC students put on productions at the Columbus Theatre on Wednesday, February 21 and Saturday, February 25.
Even though 13 years ago The Vagina Monologues was banned from being performed on campus, students continue to put on the production and fundraise to combat violence against women. All proceeds from the production go to Sojourner House, a resource advocacy center for victims of domestic abuse.
Brugnoli-Ensin explained that while the ban makes it difficult to recruit members and advertise on campus, it has also made those participating in the play a stronger force. “We become a tight-knit group who rely on the support of each other and allies rather than the administration,” said Brugnoli-Ensin.
Ensler directly responded to the ban of the play in an open letter to Father Brian Shanley, O.P., defending many aspects of the show. In her letter, Ensler writes, “[TVM] are at times shocking, heartbreaking, and even humorous. They are not politically correct; they are real. In places, they are offensive. Violence against women and girls should be offensive.” Brugnoli-Ensin stressed that this what student performers are aiming to bring attention to. Even though posters and flyers for the production that are put up on campus are taken down within hours, students who continue to promote the event and bring a good audience together.
Stephanie Clark ’18 has been a part of The Vagina Monologues with Brugnoli-Ensin for the past two years. Clark enjoyed working to put on this production with a group of women who are so passionate about women’s and gender issues.
Brugnoli-Ensin believes that The Vagina Monologues are so impactful because of the diverse representation within the play. “I think virtually every woman can connect with some part of The Vagina Monologues. The monologues tell the stories of queer woman, transgender woman, older woman, young girls, homeless woman, etc. It sheds light onto so many experiences of being a woman.”
Each year, Ensler adds a “spotlight” to The Vagina Monologues emphasized Brugnoli-Ensin. “I loved this years update of ‘Over It,’” she said. “Rather than tiptoeing around the issues, Eve called out sexual abusers, assaulters, harassers, and exploiters.”
When discussing how The Vagina Monologues shaped her PC experience, Brugnoli-Ensin said, “I have met incredible women and found amazing allies. I have learned how to speak up for myself and defend my beliefs. But also, it has given me a home away from home at a school that often silences opposing views.”