Last week, I went to see the University of Washington production of the Vagina Monologues. It was my first time seeing it, and I came away with mixed feelings. Some thoughts:
- everyone past puberty, but especially hetersexuals, needs to read/see the Hair Monologue.
- every hetersexual male needs to read/see the Bob Monologue – and take notes.
- Angry Vagina Monologue rocks my world. “Mostly, my vagina wants to stop being angry.” Amen.
- all of that said, the Monologues – or at least the subset performed by this cast – were disappointingly Caucasian, Western, and heterocentric.
- I find the centering of identity around one’s genitalia to be odd and a bit disturbing. It may be my male privilege/ignorance showing through, and I would gladly be corrected if that’s the case, but a woman is more than her vagina, and if feels reductive to identify her so strongly with it. I’m all for changing social attitudes towards vaginae from current fear/revulsion to the respect and admiration they merit; I just think VM goes a bit overboard in this respect, with results that aren’t entirely feminist. Thoughts from those possessing a vagina?
And then there’s the female genital mutilation monologue. On one hand, I’m glad it’s in there. It needs to be in there. Without it, the Monologues would be far less authentic, far less relevant, and far less powerful. People need to know that 3 million girls and women each year are sexually mutilated. If anything, we need to be reminded of that fact far more often.
On the other hand – and these are personal issues, not universal reasons for not seeing things like the Vagina Monologues – I struggle frequently with nihilism and despair. When I hear or read about the systematic rape and torture of women, I wonder why I’m even bothering to fight. What can one person do in the face of such rabid hate? In the end, I keep fighting, because that’s just who I am. I come from a culture that prizes fighting for what you believe in, whether or not you have a hope of winning. And I believe in Justice. I just wish I could believe in the possibility of a just society.