Those who did not attend Saturday’s performance of the Vagina Monologues missed more than just an overpriced and poorly-acted play. They also missed an in-your-face expression of female sexuality that contradicts what feminism supposedly stands for.
The Vagina Monologues is not new to Duke; it has been the centerpiece of “Vagina Day” festivities for years. Based on a 1997 script by radical feminist Eve Ensler, the play is well-known for two reasons.
One, its actors impersonate female genitals and express their disdain for unnecessary inconveniences like tampons and shaving.
Two, the original script contains a scene where a 24-year-old lesbian lures a 13-year-old girl to her home, gives her alcohol and has sex with her—making her realize that she has no need for men. As the individual playing the 13-year-old’s vagina sums up the evening, “if it was rape, it was a good rape.”
This year, the Duke performance was less a series of monologues and more interactive. Specifically, 14 females formed a circle on stage, asked questions like “If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?,” and proceeded to shout out answers to them.
One scene stressed the importance of pubic hair, with an actress declaring that “you have to love hair to love the vagina.” Another part was dedicated to a 72-year-old arthritic woman and her search for a certain pleasure point.
Outside of a college campus, most would label a play like the Vagina Monologues as smut. Even those who were not offended would still see it as shock entertainment, a guilty pleasure at best. Yet here at Duke, “V-Day” organizers see the play’s performing as some sort of act in social heroism.
The Vagina Monologues supposedly promotes a pro-female agenda by sparking discussions about taboo subjects and raising awareness about sexual violence.
Said one of this year’s student directors: “We need the Vagina Monologues until conversations that are being re-enacted and performed for us begin occurring on an everyday basis between real people.”
The Monologues, of course, were part of a larger series of V-Day activities like the “Vagina Workshop”—an event held at the Mary Lou Williams Center last week for females to display sex toys and discuss masturbation. Several years ago, organizers sold vagina-shaped lollipops on the Bryan Center walkway.
For a group dedicated to raising respect for women, V-Day organizers have an amazingly self-defeating strategy.
Indeed, by focusing every aspect of V-Day on sex and by identifying womanhood by a sexual organ, they objectify females and their bodies worse than anyone. There’s no doubt that men who commit acts of sexual harassment and violence think of women as sexual objects, not people. There’s also no doubt that skits in which female actresses play pleasure-seeking vaginas do little to change such perceptions.
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In excluding discussions of healthy male-female relationships from V-Day festivities, campus feminists show us that gender equality really isn’t their goal.
An observer of the Vagina Monologues sees women depicted as very sexual and very anti-male, interested only in self-pleasure and lesbianism, not friendship or love. And it’s a woman’s genitals, not her personality, that define who she is.
In the past year and a half, Duke students and faculty members have done a fine job raising awareness for legitimate women’s issues like eating disorders, self-mutilation and sexual assault.
As overblown as the term “effortless perfection” may be, this campus has seen productive discussion about the unique pressures a school like Duke puts on females, and some have even shared personal stories of self-destruction on these pages.
V-Day organizers claim that events like the Vagina Monologues address these issues, yet they offer only sex toy parties and foul-mouthed rants about tampons that only take focus away from serious problems and promote over-the-top absurdity.
Here’s hoping that anyone without a date next Valentine’s Day will skip the Vagina Monologues and do something else. No matter what it is, it will be a better choice.
Nathan Carleton is a Trinity senior. His column appears Thursdays.