Street: The show’s tomorrow! How has the buildup to the Vagina Monologues been going?
Isabel Friedman: We’re at the end of Vagina Season and this year, we’ve had a lot more events than before. Moregasm, our sex workshop, was a wake–up call that Penn students want to learn about this stuff, since we had to turn away 100 people. But don’t worry, we took minutes.
Street: What’s been the hardest part of producing VagMons?
IF: Once you get vaginas talking, it’s hard to get them to stop. It’s such a well–oiled machine. We’re waiting for the climax of the show, you know? During VagMons season, I tend to see vaginas everywhere. I literally have this coat with a fur hood and I put it on and I’m like, “I look like a pussy.”
Street: Vagina vision!
IF: Oh, yeah, I permanently have vagina goggles attached to my head during Vagina Season. I have a hammock in the springtime and everyone accuses me of vagina–ing. I guess people see me with vagina goggles too. I live a very vajazzled lifestyle. I think I said vagina like eight times in that sentence. For a while I was known as the Gingrich girl [for asking him a controversial question] and now I’m the vagina girl!
Street: Have you ever worn the vagina costume on Locust?
IF: I have been in the vagina, yes. The costume went missing this semester, so we were in vagina crisis mode and had to think of a plan B, no pun intended. One lead was from a kid who was a vagina for a costume party. I texted him to ask to borrow it and he said he got punched in the face and got a bloody nose while wearing it so the costume was… soiled.
Street: VagMons has become huge on campus, especially during February. What kind of reactions have you faced?
IF: Our goal is not to make everyone into rah–rah feminists. People don’t have to scream “vagina” with us on the walk-—it’s just to re–frame sexual violence awareness in a fresh way. The show makes people uncomfortable, upset, angry, happy, empowered—a whole range of emotions and that’s good.
Street: So you also helped found Penn Political Coalition.
IF: Yes, I guess you could say politics and women are my bread and butter. PoCo was created because we were really sick and tired of people saying Penn students were apathetic and there’s always a lot of talk in politics to reach across the aisle and teach people. Coalition–building is one of the most difficult things to do, but it was a collective idea and all the right people were excited about it.
Street: Would you ever consider becoming a politician yourself?
IF: People ask me why I’m not working in Washington, and I’m like, I probably couldn’t say ‘vagina’ as much as I do. Life without public displays of vagina is no life at all. Actually, this Ego of the Week will probably ruin my political career, that’s how much I love Street.
Street: Who’s your alter ego?
IF: The emoji of the woman dancing in a red dress. She salsas her way to making texts infinitely more awkward and enjoyable. The only problem is that it’s a thankless job, she’s a faceless person and the dude next to her can’t get away fast enough. Wait, now that I think about it, that kinda sounds like a metaphor for feminism…
Street: Who’s your fave First Lady?
IF: I have a huge girl crush on Hillary Clinton. There was a photo on Under the Button of Hill on the Ben Franklin bench at Penn and I’m not ashamed to say that was my computer background for months. In my eyes, she’s the Beyoncé of politics.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
IF: Those who go to the Vagina Monologues and those who don’t. The latter are dead to me. Seriously, go to the show or you’ll end up on my shit list like Chris Brown, Todd Akin, Newt Gingrich and the morons who cancelled “Freaks and Geeks.”