Some years ago, my daughter and I bought tickets to see The Vagina Monologues then starring Sharon Gless in the ever changing cast of no longer famous women actors. With all the hype surrounding the play, we looked forward to an evening of entertainment and enlightenment. Not a half hour into the reading, I was ready to demand my money back, and I'm certain that if I had asked for my vagina's opinion, it would have heartily agreed. The play is crap -- a blatant and, yes, successful exercise in making a steaming pile of money from saying vagina without blushing five hundred times in 90 minutes.
For those of you unfamiliar with Eve Ensler's work, here is Wikipedia's synopsis: The Vagina Monologues is made up of a varying number of monologues read by a varying number of women. Every monologue somehow relates to the vagina, be it through sex, love, rape, menstruation, mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, the variety of names for the vagina, or simply as a physical aspect of the body. A recurring theme throughout the piece is the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality.
Got that? After all the years of fighting to be recognized as something more than sexual objects; after all the struggles to be seen for our brains and not our bodies, women willingly pay to see themselves defined as nothing more than a (pardon the vulgarity) twat!
Why am I bitching all these years after the fact? A few weeks ago, I had dinner with three women whom I consider intelligent and worldly. They had recently seen a local production and, like parrots in a Victorian parlor, began mouthing all the hype that the local theatre critic had written in his review. These women showered glorious praise on the production calling it a "tour de force for feminists; a fearless acknowledgement of women's issues;" and "a therapeutic cleansing" (gag) of long held misconceptions of male/female issues. Excuse me! Really? Losing my self control, I stood and (while pointing to the Venus mound) said, "This is not who I am. This (pointing to my head) is who WE are." Many a fork paused mid way to mouth!
Eve Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues following interviews she conducted with 200 women about their views on sex, relationships and violence. She has stated that her fascination with vaginas began because of "growing up in a violent society. Women's empowerment is deeply connected to their sexuality." Ensler has also said, "I'm obsessed with women being violated and raped and with incest. All of these things are deeply connected to our vaginas." (Copied from Wikipedia)
The only thing Eve Ensler is obsessed with is making money. We all know that sex sells. Talk about the human anatomy, male or female, and the cash register sings. Utter words like penis and orgasm, and the big bucks just pour in.
If my daughter had not been raped three years ago, I would have laughed at my friends' inane comments. If I hadn't seen my daughter beaten and bruised, I probably would have not have risen to the bait. However, all I could see was my daughter, crying in my arms, while I told her that rape has nothing to do with sex. Rape is about domination. Rape is about humiliation. Rape is about feelings of inadequacy on the part of the attacker. Rape is a physical beating -- sometimes people slap or punch or kick or bite. Sometimes men use their penis. Think of prison inmates who are subjected to the same violence. Power, not sex, is the motivation. The only way women can empower themselves against attacks of any kind is to be ever aware of the danger around them. Men have known that since time began.
Let me assure you that if my vagina could talk, it wouldn't give a damn about what color or style of clothing flattered it best. My vagina wouldn't complain about tampons and pap smears, and it sure as hell wouldn't encourage women to buy tickets for this show. If my vagina could talk, it would say a lot of things to Eve Ensler that I can't write here because I am not controlled by one part of my anatomy. I am the sum of my parts.