Of Valentine’s Day and “The Vagina Monologues”
Content is for mature readers. Contains language offensive, derogatory, and demeaning to women and/or sensitive readers. However, if you choose to read on, that is the point of the article.
Ephesians 5:1-7: Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them (emphases mine).
Years ago, I had a friend who named the Name of Christ who invited me to The Vagina Monologues. My friend also invited a group of others to see the play. We had quite a discussion about it, and as you might have guessed, I did not attend.
I’ve learned this year that The Vagina Monologues is a Valentine’s Day tradition. Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, for your educational benefit, should you be invited to this play, below are excerpts from a speech on the subject by Christina Hoff Sommers, of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. The full text can be found at: http://www.aei.org/speech/22262. From her comments, I believe the applicability of the scripture reference with which I opened will become obvious.
I’ve brought with me a recording of The Monologues. What you are about to hear is Ensler herself introducing the play and talking about its impact. This segment lasts for less than a minute–but it gives you a good sense of Ensler’s mindset and sensibility. Here she is presenting a list of what she considers to be remarkable and wonderful results of her play–she calls them “vagina occurrences.”
(Tape was played)
“Glenn Close gets 2,500 people to stand and chant the word cunt.”
“A woman rabbi sends me a hamantasch (a food) and describes its vaginal meanings.”
“There is now a Cunt Workshop at Wesleyan University.”
“A young man makes and serves me a vagina salad for dinner with his parents in Atlanta, Georgia. Bean sprouts are pubic hair.”
I’ll stop the tape with the vagina salad. I don’t even want to know what the dressing was supposed to be.
…The play itself consists of several monologues, which are distilled from more than 200 interviews Ensler conducted with women on the topic of their vaginas. At the Off-Broadway production I attended, the theater concession stand sold lollipops and cookies in the shape of a women’s–well, take a wild guess. The young man who ushered me to my seat wore a nametag that read, “Hi, I am Vagina Larry.” The theater was packed with women who laughed riotously at each mention of the v-word–which was more than 100 times.
I have so many objections to the play it is hard to know where to start. I’ll limit myself to three. 1) It is atrociously written. 2) It is viciously anti-male; and 3) and, most importantly, it claims to empower women, when in fact it makes us seem desperate and pathetic.
…And my personal favorite:
“My vagina is a shell, a tulip, and a destiny. I am arriving as I am beginning to leave. My vagina, my vagina, me.” P.50
Now, world literature abounds with exquisite passages describing female sexual rapture–from the verses of the dazzling Sixth century poetess Sappho, to Molly’s Soliloquy in the final passages of James Joyce’s Ulysses. In my humble opinion, “My vagina is a shell, a tulip, and a destiny” does not qualify as one of them.
My second and more serious objection is the play’s relentless hostility to men. The Vagina Monologues features a rogues’ gallery of male brutes, sadists, child-molesters, genital mutilators, gang rapists and vile little boys. It is a poisonously anti-male play.
…Unless you count Ensler’s creepy segment about Bob, the only romantic scene in the play takes place between a 24-year-old woman and a young girl (who in the original version was 13-years-old, but in more recent versions has become 16). The woman invites the young girl into her car, takes her to her house, plies her with vodka, and seduces her. What might seem to be a scene from a public service kidnapping prevention video shown to schoolchildren becomes, in Ensler’s play, a love story (emphasis mine).
…Which brings me to another point. Ensler does not shy away from including very young children in her obsession. She says, on page 103, “I asked a six-year-old girl: What does your vagina smell like?” And “What’s special about your vagina?” To the second question, the little girl replied: “Somewhere deep inside it I know it has a really smart brain.” Ensler’s reported interviews are suspect. One finds it hard to believe that a first grader is talking about things that are “somewhere deep inside.” One finds it harder to believe that the girl’s parents would allow their six-year-old daughter to be interrogated about her vagina. Imagine a male counterpart to this story, a middle-aged man asking 6-year-old boys what was special about their penises. He would likely find himself on the local sex-offender registry.
…But perhaps the most appalling and insulting aspect of the V-Day phenomenon is the way in which it demeans and weakens women even as it claims to empower us. Empower. That’s the buzz-word for this play.
…The latest published edition of The Monologues includes letters from excited students describing V-Day. Mary from Michigan State University tells how the rehearsal room for the play was next to a history conference:
“I think they were a little shocked to hear Crista screaming ‘CUNT, CUNT!! SAY IT! SAY IT! CUNT, CUNT!! Say it! Say it!’ . . . And when I did the triple surprise orgasm moan, well, let’s just say they heard that loud and clear too!” p.154
…Now I hope you’ll join in me in asking: what exactly is it that makes this play empowering? Is it the freedom to obsess over one’s intimate anatomy? The freedom to say the v- or c-word over and over again? This is ludicrous.
…One of the many laudable goals of the original women’s movement was its rejection of the idea that women are reducible to their anatomy. Our bodies are not our selves. Feminist pioneers like Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth fought long and hard so women would be respected–not for their sexual anatomy–but for their minds. The struggle for women’s rights was a battle for political and educational equality. Feminist foremothers like Mary Wollstonecraft or Elizabeth Cady Stanton demanded that women have the opportunities to develop their intellects and to make full use of their cognitive powers.
…I feel sorry for young women who consider themselves empowered because they have said the word “vagina” over and over again.