The vagina monologues

by Eve Ensler

Paperback, 2001





New York : Villard, 2001.


A poignant and hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, The vagina monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. Hailed as the bible for a new generation of women, it has been performed in cities all across America and at hundreds of college campuses, and has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement--V-Day--to stop violence against women. Witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise, Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning masterpiece gives voice to real women's deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one who reads it will ever look at a woman's body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again.

User reviews

LibraryThing member donitamblyn
I'm sorry to slam something that has moved as many people as has this collection of monologues. I also hasten to note that I'm frequently out of step with the tastes of general public, so feel free to take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt....

I do NOT, in ANY way, get the merits of this book/play! What are we going to read about next -- our anuses? The spaces between our toes? Our tongues? ("My tongue, when it curls -- warmly, trustingly, joyously -- against my hard palate... brings me home to myself....")

This piece of work strikes me as the HUGEST fit of public navel-gazing (except lower down, of course) in the past 30 years -- and when you think about some of the writing we've seen in that time, that's going some. On the other hand, maybe it's the naturally-arising response to the massive cuts in NEA funding in this country:

The 15-year surge of one-man and one-woman monologues in our non-profit theatres is purely due to the fact that there's virtually no money anymore for full stage productions. Costumes, sets, and ensemble casts have given way to a solitary actor standing on stage under a single spot, in black slacks and the obligatory "gem-toned" shirt, possibly using a prop or two as s/he describes some aspect of his/her life to the audience. Many times, this is good theatre -- I don't suggest it's not. My point is that this kind of low overhead allows both the actor and the venue to make a BIT of money out of their efforts, whereas a real play no longer can.

So here's the logical extension: You can't slash overhead more than by offering a monologue, but you CAN raise attendance by making the monologue all about vaginas! Please note this bit of dialogue from "Curb Your Enthusiasm":

[Actress who got the part:] Here's to "The Vagina Monologues"!

[Manager who got her the part:] Here's to the vagina!

Recognizing the deadly forces arrayed against our American dramatists today, I hate not to support them. But my support stops short of reading -- or attending "dramatic" productions of -- irrelevant tripe. Life is just too short.
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LibraryThing member bragan
This is the book version of Ensler's popular stage show, in which she talks about, well, vaginas. It features some of her own thoughts, a few anatomical facts, and several pieces based on interviews she did with other women, although it seems as if most of those stories are somewhat fictionalized, or interpreted, or maybe just paraphrased.

And... OK, first off, I have to say, I very much approve of what Ensler's trying to do with this. Like a lot of girls, I grew up with the distinct sense that my genitalia were something dirty and shameful, or at the very least something embarrassing and taboo, an implicit but fairly clear message that that particular piece of human anatomy should not be named, touched, or even thought about more than strictly necessary. And that ain't right. It especially ain't right in a society in which male genitalia come with associations of pride and power. (And other associations as well, of course, but those are definitely there in a way that they're not for women.) Demystifying women's bodies, making a vagina something that's nice to have and fine to acknowledge having, that's a good thing. Ensler also talks about sexual abuse and rape and genital mutilation, and these are also things that should be acknowledged and talked about and not turned away from. So, in principle, I'm all for this.

In practice, however... I have to say, most of it did very little for me. There weren't really any moments where I felt she tapped into something that I, personally, could relate to, and there's a bit too much mysticism and flowery language and weird metaphor for me. My vagina is not not a seat of power, it's not a fragrant meadow, and it doesn't wear a beret. I just cannot make myself take that sort of thing seriously. I did, somewhat to my surprise, quite like the poem about childbirth. But otherwise... Well, maybe it's better if you actually see it performed live. Or maybe I'm just not the right audience for this, whatever anatomy I happen to be possessed of.
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LibraryThing member realbigcat
I'm not sure how many men have read this book or may even admit to it. I was drawn to the book from all the publicity over the play. I never saw the play but I assume it's much better than the book. It's hard to put into words the emotions that the stories tell. This is probably a must read for any woman and enlightening for a man as well. It a shame the violence, humiliation and suffering that women have endured and still endure. The stories are touching and empowering. It's not all depressing as there are some funny stories as well. A lot of the book seems to be pointed toward hard-core feminists and lesbians.… (more)
LibraryThing member gillis.sarah
I have loved 'The Vagina Monologues' ever since I saw it for the first time a few years ago. Favorite monologues include 'The Flood', 'The Little Coochie-Snorcher That Could', and others. Parts of it make me cringe, parts make me laugh, and all of it is intense. It's better to watch a performance than to read it, but the book is still great… (more)
LibraryThing member idranksometea
I've never seen these monologues performed, and quite frankly, I never wanted to.
I started reading this book expecting I-don't-know-what, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's short and very easy to read. I read it in one day and really enjoyed myself while doing so. It felt good to read the word 'vagina' a thousand time.

I was born in the 90s, and my approach to and concept of vagina is very liberal and free-loving, so for me it was very interesting to gain perspective on how older generations feel about this subject. I must say I was a little bit saddened by how repressed they were growing up, and hadn't thought about it that way. But things have changed and will forever be changing for the better.

I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone. I think it is a MUST read, for all ages and sexes.
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LibraryThing member pictou
I listened to this on tape and enjoyed the dialog, especially the parts that were read as an older woman. I feel like it's more of a performance piece and that the personalization and character wouldn't come across in written word.
LibraryThing member MorgannaKerrie
Quite the book, indeed. A book every woman should have on their shelf.
LibraryThing member BALE
None of the stories depicted shocked me. This is an unfortunate circumstance of our culture, yesterday and today.

I have not yet seen the play, but hope to soon. I have no doubt it is better then the book. Sometimes, the spoken word, with all its inflections, has more effect (very unusual for me to say; usually, I feel it is the book over the movie that effects the true nature of a written piece). Either way, this work has had a positive influence on our culture that can not be disputed... V-Day. What a great thing!

The book itself was written well. I do not care how many times, or ways, people have been made aware of this subject. Until we have world-wide knowledge and prevention in-tact, no words are too many.

To the younger (then I) generation, many of you feel women's liberation, et al, is embarrassing. Whatever the word described, thank the women before us that enable you to think, feel and speak this way. I do not always agree with the form or method used in fighting for continued freedom. I realize that sometimes it takes extremes to get peoples attention. Various approaches also reflect individuality-a good thing. As long as it is for a humane cause, do not discard the work. Evaluate the needs and work to effect change.

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LibraryThing member hahnasay
Wonderful real life stories. Heartfelt, and easy to relate too. Worth reading, you wont regret it.
LibraryThing member verenka
A very interesting book in my opinion. I'd heard about "the monologues" before and I saw Calista Flockhart talk about it (and perform the WASP moan) on Conan O'Brian. Ever since I wanted to see the play when it's on. And the bad rep doesn't put me off! :-)
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
There ain't much more I can say about this but wow. I really need to get up and go to the next performance.
LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
The book begins with a monologue by Eve Ensler about working toward a world of peace and what it takes to support women and stop violence against them. Following are excellent photographs by Joyce Tenneson that show women who have been involved in the V-Day project, proud, brave, young and old. This is an inspiring book.
LibraryThing member KRaySaulis
People like to critique that which is popular. "Even though it's popular it's not good," they like to say. But here is the thing... it becomes popular for a reason. It broke rules and did so in a way that was accepted by the mainstream. And perhaps one of those rules is one you liked. Perhaps you're stuck on what you believe is "good theater" or "good writing." But in the end it is good because it touched people. It is good because it changed people. And this book which I read for the first time this year, and the play which I saw for the first time over ten years ago, are good because they change me. Present tense. The monologues come back to me when I'm having conversations with people or when I am thinking about womanhood or masculinity. They become a part of how I think about myself, my sisters, my wife, my nieces. Eve Ensler did something amazing. And this is one of the most well-known books about women and what it means to be a woman for good reasons.… (more)
LibraryThing member TheInvernessie
This is a requirement for my Women's Studies course. I found this text to be....interesting but then very very boarding and loathing of having a vagina.
It was just laden with beatings and rape and the like. It wasn't a fun read (although, I timed myself and it took 45 minutes). I just didn't enjoy it, how about that?… (more)
LibraryThing member glammonkey
This was a quick one day read that I found snappy and oddly sweet.
LibraryThing member Devil_llama
This work created a sensation as it toured the country (and the world) for V-day celebrations. So much talk of vaginas can be offputting for women; my own discomfort raised the question: why do women find it so difficult to talk about their vaginas, when men seem to have no difficulty expounding for hours about penises? It is an artistic wake up call - the monologues talk about how women feel about their vaginas, and the message comes through loud and clear that we are not comfortable. It isn't penis envy that shows through these monologues, but rather an ambivalence and uncertainty about what it means to be a woman, about the risks of being a woman in a world designed by (and for) men, and how much we really want to talk about the one thing we don't want to talk about. If that makes no sense...well, read the book.… (more)
LibraryThing member katfusion
This was a fantastic and very helpful book! I learned things about women and being a woman that, as a woman, I should've already known but didn't. Now I feel enlightened, empowered, and inspired to share Eve's message with others. I highly recommend this book to everyone, men or women.
LibraryThing member wellreadcatlady
So much of the Vagina Monologues is relatable. Most women do not talk about their vaginas enough and what the women in this play were saying I kept agreeing with. We experience so much of the same self consciousnesses and experiences with our bodies, but we keep it hush hush making everyone wonder if they are normal. The play is about asking women about their vaginas and they are telling the stories they heard from the interviews, sometimes combining experiences, sometimes pointing out unique experiences. It's very interesting, I wish it was longer and more in depth (I read the actor's editions, I think I'll check out the longer editions).… (more)
LibraryThing member aratiel
Reading this book, I have never felt more proud to be a woman, nor more ashamed at the world for trying to keep us down.
LibraryThing member PiperUp
Vagina. Vagina. Vagina. Those that know me know that I never shy away from using the word "vagina".
The monologues are quick & easy to read. I wish there were more monologues that celebrate the vagina with humor & wit.
Sure, the main point is to spread awareness of violence, confusion & shame related to the female sex organ but I'd like if it were balanced with more celebration & humor.
The vagina isn't all bad...most of us females have vaginal stories that bring tears of laughter to the listeners eyes.

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LibraryThing member indygo88
I've had this book on my shelf for quite a few years but only now has it found its way to the top of my reading pile. I didn't realize when I acquired it that it was actually a written adaptation of Ensler's live tour, which is probably what people are more familiar with. This is basically a compilation of conversations & such that Ensler has had with various women across the country about...well, vaginas. However, it's really more about feminism and women's rights and bluntly putting out there what some may be afraid to confront or say out loud. Though this was published in 2007, it's quite timely for a lot of what is being seen in the media today.

I honestly have mixed feelings about it, though. It wasn't exactly what I expected. Some of the conversations were a little 'out there' and left me going, "Huh?". There was definitely some good stuff -- some things that needed to be said and I think this would be a very liberating book for some. But I was just kind of "meh" with the whole thing. For me, I think it would be more meaningful if seen live as a performance, as it was originally intended. It is still being performed today in various venues & formats and there are multiple YouTube videos out there, which I may have to investigate.
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LibraryThing member Auntie-Nanuuq
There is no explanation I could possibly give, no words enough to explain the sheer power & healing of this incredible masterpiece.


When asked what their vagina smells like, not one woman said Love, so I'll say it for them. Because for me, this is what this book embodies, LOVE, for ourselves, our body, & power of life that we women are gifted with.

I'm glad this book finally made its way into the Library booksale, otherwise I have no idea when if ever I would have taken the time to read it.
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LibraryThing member Shahnareads
Excellent read.

I thought it would be a littler weird at first, but it's pretty interesting. I definitely want to read it again sometime. It's been so long.
LibraryThing member kohrmanmj
Some passages are stronger/weaker than others. Overall, the collection is a 3 but there are some passages which could be a 5 (and some a 1).
LibraryThing member villemezbrown
I've been hearing about this work for most of my adult life - as a touchstone for some people and a punch line for others - but I had never experienced myself. My daughter read it for one of her high school classes, and I like to read along with her so I finally had motivation to find what out what lies behind the infamous reputation. I was going to read the book without ever having seen the piece performed, but I found it was available for streaming on HBO Now and watched it first. Then I read the book immediately afterward. And except for the few pieces that relied heavily on sound effects, I preferred the written version. It was easier for me to pick out and contemplate the interesting ideas and speed through parts that interested me less. I like that the book includes a few performance pieces that were missing from the HBO special and this edition has uplifting correspondence from V-Day fundraiser participants. I'm very impressed and now side with those who consider this a touchstone.… (more)



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