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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The book might make some uncomfortable, but overall I think you'll be moved and feel empowered (both women and men alike). It's a collection of monologues, some poetic, some essays, several facts in-between. The brutal history of oppression will shock you. The stories told in the monologues will likely resonate with women, provide new insight to men.
Definitely a must read or see for everyone. Seriously.
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?
There's some strict rules:
1. These are true stories and the performers should tell/perform them with a certain respect to the actual women who told them.
2. Usually the performance is a staged reading, with little to no direction. The performers do not memorize the script and read it off of index cards.
3. The entire script must be performed and it must be no longer or shorter than 90 minutes.
4. Everyone who wants to be involved should be provided with some role or means of involvement, and this should be a healing experience.
5. The directors/producers of the play should see themselves as activists first and directors second.
6. Only those people who have lived their lives with a vagina (note not necessarily born with one) may perform the roles. Roles are open to transgender women who have a vagina via medical means and women born with one. Men can be involved in other ways but not in performing the roles. (Which makes sense when you read it - the roles are definitely characters with vaginas. It would be odd for someone with a penis to perform these roles, and disrespectful to the actual women whom the roles/monologues are based.)
The monologues are rather moving. It is not a "man-hating" play as has been presumed. It's an informative piece about how our society has dealt with the concept of vagina, women, and violence against women and transgender. And I highly recommend that people of all genders either read it or if they get a chance see a performance.
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.
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.
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.