Scoop Review: Vaginal Focus Comes At A Price
Vaginal Focus Comes At A Price
Theatre Review: The Vagina Monologues
By Alexis Stuart
Well, after an extended season we have been exposed to ‘The Vagina’ and quite a show it was too. The Vagina Monologues, was tremendously popular, of course, superbly crafted and almost fully accepted by the intelligentsia—and now it is invading small town New Zealand. And funny too, but it would be wouldn’t it, it was about the vagina after-all? It was entertainment at fever pitch…but it was also entertainment at a price.
If The Vagina Monologues had claimed to be nothing other than a bawdy celebration of the vagina then I suspect the audiences would have been smaller. But it wasn’t. It was more than just the Puppetry of the Penis. It was more than just venereal entertainment. It was the most regal of the nether regions, the Vagina at the James Hay.
The Vagina Monologues was elevated to political emancipation, rescuing the vagina from “cultural neglect”. Indeed, it may have well have been inspired by any huge charismatic church service as the audience was whipped into frenzied but contrived worship. Feminism, that greater good, had justified my attendance, but what was the source of salvation? What was the religion on offer? The “fur purse”, “the eccentric tulip”, c___ c___ c____ the audience chants and sings.
“Is this really it?” I thought, as I found myself, like Dame Kate Harcourt, unable and unwilling to say the ’c’ word. I have to “be my clitoris”, “my vagina is my destiny”, and I had to learn to “see” my vagina and understand that “I am my vagina”. This didn’t shock me in fact I was disappointed. Oh please, mother, of vaginas, let’s not go down that sad barren feminist hole!
The feminism of this type has had its time in the sun. Could the feminists that were forming their politics in the seventies please stop exposing themselves and mature already! As a woman who was born in the seventies I have had enough of the kind of feminism that claims that we are nothing but our sexuality, that we are defined primarily by the sexuality of our gender.
There was a sinking, tragic kind of uncomfortable silence after the description of a very graphic rape in the play from which it never really recovered. The female characters interviewed in the play were screaming out for male love. They wanted validation but the only solution The Vagina Monologues could offer was exploitive lesbianism and hedonism. In this context it got away with too much. Asking a six year old girl, for example, invasive questions about her vagina and blindly celebrating the lesbian, alcohol infused, seduction of a sixteen year old girl by an older worldly woman did not sit well with me, (interestingly when performed in the U.S the age was younger than this). I am a young woman but I have a daughter, and it’s not okay for a man or a woman to meaninglessly seduce her as a teenager or ask her personal questions as a young child in the name of freedom. Lesbians are not immune to inflicting abuse. Much of this play, as funny as it was, slipped into lesbian pornography. Vagina obsession is not actually the answer to anything hence my disappointment. Lesbianism is not the emancipation that most women are looking for.
So what about men? The women in this play were feeling unloved and discontented. Their vagina’s left “hungry” and “angry” and wanting. The play never addressed this deep sense of emptiness. The only men in the play were rapists, philanderers, sexual perverts and Bob.
Bob was a boyfriend who Eve Ensler didn’t like very much but he would gaze at her vagina for hours and made her feel good about herself. We don’t hear what happens to Bob, I guess he got the boot once he had served his purpose. I’m a mother of sons also, but I have always found the feminist tendency to demean men distasteful.
Ensler has made herself clear when she told Molly Ivens in TIME that the nuclear family is “a deadly institution”. But here’s the thing, most of us are (still) heterosexual and most of us (still) want children. Most of us (still) find this very fulfilling. There is no mention of love in The Vagina Monologues. I have never understood how sex as mere amusement and physical release has anything to do with women at all. In The Vagina Monologues “me” and “vagina” become inter-changeable and the vagina takes on the emotional characteristics of the “heart”. Ironically, it sexually objectifies women and all we are left with is the vagina.
The wonderful thing about being married is that your spouse has to stick around to learn that actually as a woman, sexually and otherwise, you are so much more than a vagina but a complex awesome human-being. This is why the humour of The Vagina Monologues comes at a price. It ends up being an assault on women’s sexuality. My only consolation is that my own husband didn’t see the play with me. But then again he wouldn’t … he loves me too much.