The Vagina Monologues: A Review
I have finally had the chance to attend a presentation of The Vagina Monologues. This showing has been going on at the University of Florida for the last four years and truthfully, I have no good reason why I've never attended. But better late than never, right? Along with V-Day, this year's beneficiary was Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network. A member of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the organization provides services like emergency shelter and batterer's intervention programming, while serving domestic abuse victims in Alachua, Bradford, and Union counties of Florida. The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by playwright and feminist Eve Ensler in 1996. The play is based on interviews Ensler conducted with 200 women. The women were of a wide age range, various multicultural background, sexual preferences, etc. The interviews covered topics like rape, masturbation, mutilation, orgasm, birth, etc.
The Introduction: Three women discussed how the play came to life as well as the different reactions of the women interviewed. The introduction of the many different names given to the vagina was both funny and interesting. I reminded me of growing up in Haiti and thinking "vagin" was a bad word or at least a word reserved only for grown women.
Hair: When I read this title in the program I thought to myself "What exactly does hair have to do with vaginas?" Well... It's actually a conversation I've had with many of my girl friends. Oh the many things society (well, mostly the porn industry actually) imposes upon us women and our vaginas. It reminded me of the scene in the first Sex and the City movie, in which Samantha is horrified by Miranda's hairy bikini line, and Samantha suggests to Miranda that this might have been one of the reasons why her husband cheated on her.
The Flood: This was based on the interview with a 72-year-old woman. This scene was both charming and extremely sad. Hearing how unaware, embarrassed, frightened, and ashamed this poor old woman was of her vagina was quite sad. Also, the actress who portrayed this woman's story, Kim Mead, was absolutely brilliant.
The Vagina Workshop: I liked hearing how this woman was liberated and she was taught to please herself. Much like the woman in The Flood, this woman was previously unaware of the existence of her vagina as well as her clitoris. To hear that she was waiting for someone [a man] to one day come and discover her vagina and please her clitoris proved to me just how successfully women have been taught to shy away from sexual pleasure.
My Angry Vagina: This was possibly my favorite scene of the bunch. This monologue basically gave a voice to vaginas everywhere. Here's video of the monologue:
The Vagina Monologues has been criticized for its negative portrayals of male-female sexual relationships. I found that Because He Liked to Look At It did a good job of including a man in the vagina conversation. It has also been criticized because of the representation of brutal sexual encounters. I thought these representations (My Vagina Was My Village and Crooked Braid) were necessary due to the very high statistics of violence against women worldwide. I thought it was a fair representation. In my opinion, it was not making the case that all men are violent and hate women, but rather that there are many women who have suffered violence from the hands of males. On the other hand, I agree with the criticism that The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could represents a bias. The inclusion of a monologue, which describes an instance of female-female statutory rape, in a play that speaks out so loudly against violence against women, makes no sense to me.
Overall, I enjoyed the play. I appreciated what it was meant to achieve and the fact that so many people have benefited from it. It is definitely something I will see again and next time I am definitely bringing a few friends along.