The Vagina Monologues is a compilation of monologues written by Eve Ensler in which all the monologues deal with the vagina. It includes everything women around the world deal with whether it is humorous, tragic or disturbing. Including sex, rape, menstruation, masturbation, orgasm, even the comfort level women have with their own body. Some have stated that The Vagina Monologues has been celebrated as the bible for a new generation of women. I would have to agree with such a statement. Yes, in part this was meant to be funny and connect with women all over but it is also meant to let women know that have been abused and raped that it is not ok but everything will be ok. Not to mention, create ongoing awareness out that it is not acceptable for people to do this to anyone and that violence against women has to stop.
Before this class I had stumbled upon this book and had seen a DVD special and had even read a few articles.
To my best recollection Eve Ensler had been working on the monologues she met with friends and went on to interview well over one hundred women. She was able to get their views and experiences on basically being a woman. From what their experiences with relationships were to how they felt about sex and views on abuse. She had always been interested in the vagina and she wanted to be able to empower women. Through this she was able to come up with this brilliant book. I also believe every year more monologues to the collection. I do believe that The Vagina Monologues has helped the feminist movement. It has given a new voice to women around the world. It gives hope to many along with encouragement and empowerment.
The Vagina Monologues along with empowerment has also brought along plenty of controversy. It tends to be performed in colleges and universities all over the country one instance in particularly has to do with the University of Utah Valley. This is the fifth consecutive year they perform The Vagina Monologues as stated in one of their school articles "Many feel it is unnecessary and grotesque, ripping posters advertising for it off the wall to demonstrate their disapproval; others believe the truth lies in the stories it tells, shaming rape and highlighting important women's issues such as love and abuse" (Hopkinson, 2008). It is both welcomed in the school and discouraged. The performers shared the feeling that "The presentation is thought of as a tribute to women's sexuality and a condemnation of its violation" (Hopkinson, 2008). Which essentially means the celebration of being a woman and understanding that violence is not all right. I agree with this message and could only hope that people open their minds and see that this is not about being dirty with sexuality this is about understanding and coming together as one to stop the violence.
I cannot truly sit here and say that I have never felt the same way as described in the monologues. I read I Was Twelve, My Mother Slapped Me, I could not help but empathize because I remember being thirteen and there it was, my menarche. Having to use a pad, being embarrassed about it all, eventually using tampons, it is a right of passage for all women. Which then brings many women to understand My Angry Vagina, tampons, douches, and the tools used by OB/GYN s, all things that frankly are no fun at all. I dread going to the OB/GYN, cold metal, I shutter at the thought.
Then there is the darker part of the book, which consists of monologues that deal with rape, molestation and mutilation. It brings attention to the darker things in society. The taboo subjects that everyone would rather just overlook and forget that it is happening not only in the United States but also all over the world, some of which can be truly horrific. There are different views on female sexuality around the world. In other societies sexuality is seen as less taboo and people are able to talk about it, sex education is also better in other countries. In the United States depending on where a person lives sexuality can be seen as a major sin or something that just happens. People also tend to believe that just because a woman dresses a little more promiscuous that it is their fault that they get raped or violated. This of course is not the case at all these type of actions happen to women and men of all ages, races and if they are dressed promiscuously or not. It is an unfortunate occurrence and something that should be taught to everyone growing up that it is wrong and should never happen. I commend many of the women that perform the play; many of them have been victims of violence themselves. This is what brought Eve Ensler to come up with V-day, which started in 1998 and takes place on Valentines day. It stands for obviously vaginas and victory and it is a tool used to bring awareness around the world about violence against women and girls alike and that it needs to end.
I had seen in her DVD that she travels around to different countries teaching women that they do have choices and how to stop violence. The one that stands out the most to me is when she went to Africa to teach the girls that they had a choice against female mutilation. It is also known as female circumcision is practiced by many cultures and religions "Worldwide it is estimated that well over 100 million women have been subjected to it" (BBC, 1998). There are three different types of female mutilation the first of which they remove tip of the clitoris. The second they completely remove the clitoris and surrounding labia. The third they remove "the clitoris and labia and the sewing up of the vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood - a process known as infibulation" (BBC, 1998). According to many cultures this is done so tribes and families are sure that the woman is a virgin till she is married and even then in many cases the woman has to be cut open to engage in intercourse on her wedding night and then they are sewn up again afterwards "Some communities consider girls ineligible for marriage if they have not been circumcised" (BBC, 1998). Some of the girls had been rescued from villages that would not give them a choice and if they did have a choice the girls would then be shunned. Eve Ensler would go around with her guide that was also in charge of a shelter for these girls and teach them about their bodies and what the mutilation would do to them. It was truly horrific to see what they would try to do with these girls. Not only would they take away their ability to feel pleasure when they have sex, the entire procedure was unsanitary and unsafe. They would use broken glass and sharp rocks and no anesthetic and occasionally it could lead to death in the girls. This of course helped with the feminist movement because they gave these ladies information they did not have before and taught them that they did not have to be subjected to it they had a choice. The women were thinking for themselves and given proper information.
Eve Ensler is in my eyes truly inspirational. Through The Vagina Monologues she was able to inspire others as well as empower them to be individuals and love themselves and their vaginas, as well as create V-day. As a social work major and a woman I know how important it is to stop violence against women and girls. Women are raped every day; they are beaten battered and bruised. The more awareness is brought to light the more hope there is for the future generations to put an end to it. It would be truly amazing if people as a whole came together to bring women up to a level of complete and total equality, this would in turn decrease violence and rape and make it an idealistic world to live in along with future generations.
Reference Page:Ensler, E. (2001). The vagina monologues: The v-day edition (Rev. ed.). New York: Villard.
Hopkinson, H. (2008). Rough history and Vagina Monologues controversy. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from http://media.www.uvureview.com/media/storage/paper982/news/2008/02/25/News/Rough.History.And.Vagina.Monologues.Controversy-3232669.shtmlBBC News. (1998). Female genital mutilation. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/medical_notes/241221.stm