They’re at it again. The radical feminists are planning to wreck Valentine’s Day one more time. At college campuses across the country, it’s not even known as Valentine’s Day anymore, but rather “V-Day,” the “V” standing for “violence” and, uh, “vagina.” That’s because Eve Ensler’s appallingly gross play The Vagina Monologues will be the key feature of the celebrations. According to the V-Day website, some 500 colleges across the country are signed up to produce this piece of dramaturgy on Val–pardon me, V-Day–including six campuses alone in the area around my home city of Washington, D.C. (One of them is Georgetown University, which when I last looked, was supposed to be a Catholic school.)
The V-Day website is, by the way, a piece of work. It claims to be opposed to violence against women, but what it’s really opposed to is Iraqi women having the vote. On the site, amid “Vagina Warriors” T-shirts and bling, and a V-Day greeting card you can send to a pal, are two now-stale articles warning Iraqis not to cast ballots in last Sunday’s election. One of them, published in the U.K. Independent, claims the election is “phony” and the other, in the U.K. Guardian, unbelievably, asserts that women had more rights under Saddam Hussein. Like the right to have your kids killed in front of your eyes and dumped into a mass grave. The author, Yanar Mohammad, has gotten some kind of award from the V-Day folks, but fortunately, judging from Sunday’s turnout, few Iraqis read their site.
What I don’t get about “The Vagina Monologues” is how much fawning attention it’s gotten from the cultural elite–considering that it’s one bad play. Not because of the (bleh!) subject-matter, but because it’s boring. The structure of Ensler’s drama is a seemingly endless stream of women delivering full-bore, let-it-all-hang-out rants about their private parts, one after the other. There’s only so much of this unrelieved mono-emotion that anyone can take. I forced myself to one of last year’s productions, and frankly, I left after maybe 24 monologues when I looked over to the side of the stage and noticed that there were 24 or so more monologuists waiting their turn. And lines on the order of “My vagina is a shell, a tulip, and a destiny” don’t strike me as great writing. (I wanted to rewrite that one to: “My vagina is a shell, a tulip, and a destination.”)
But I’ll let IWF board member Christina Hoff Sommers, writing last year for the Front Page, offer her own thoughts about Ensler’s outrageous anti-male bias and other matters (warning to the squeamish: Sommers quotes from the dialogue perhaps more than you’d care to read):
“[T]he 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.
“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.
“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. Men did not become powerful in this world by gathering in stadiums shouting out vulgar four-letter words….You don’t hear of men gathering in little workshops taking turns looking at their private parts in mirrors. Men who did that would be ridiculed — not valorized. But somehow when the self-described ‘vagina warriors’ do these things they see themselves as heroines, intrepid freedom fighters combating prejudice and injustice — modern-day Rosa Parkses. I can’t think of anything more demeaning to women than this.
“The woman who ‘discovers’ that her clitoris is her ‘essence’ and says, ‘My vagina, me,’ is insulting herself, and all women. 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.”
Indeed. Beats me why college women, who are where they are precisely to develop their minds as men’s intellectual equals, put up with this sort of thing.