The Vagina Monologues Vulva. Vulva. I could feel something unlock. Itsy Bitsy was wrong. I knew this all along. I could not see Itsy Bitsy. I never knew who or what she was, and she did not sound like an opening or a lip.

That night, we named her… Dressed her in sparkles and sexy clothes, put her in front of the body chapel, lit candles. At first we whsipered it, “Vulva, vulva,” softly to see if she’d hear. “Vulva, vulva, are you there?” There was sweetness and something definitley stirred. “Vulva, vulva, are you real?”

The Vagina Monologues is much more than a book or a play: it is a revolutionary happening. For the first time ever, a woman got up in a public and started talking openly, honestly, sensitively about our genitals. The play, and consequently the book, started something amazing.

It is a collection of a number of short monologues, all based on interviews that the author has conducted with real women about their vaginas. Some are more or less accurate presentations of what was said, others are more imaginative pieces inspired by one or more women. All of them bring out some different aspect of womanhood and most of them make you give an internal sigh and a silent – yes. There are women of all ages and backgrounds, straight women, lesbian women, married women, virigns. There are celebratory pieces and soliloquies filled with grief or anger or pain.

This is a must-see play / must-read book for every woman.

There are some who do not like The Vagina Monologues at all.

Some just don’t get it. They see it as obscene, silly, titillating, dangerous. They worry that it will encourage young women into promiscuity. They are horrified by the idea of a crowd of women watching the show and shouting “Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!”

And there are others who do get it, and know that we need to reclaim our vaginas, but criticise the way in which Ensler has gone about this.

Some see “V-Day”, the fund-raising and awareness-raising movement against sexual violence which centres around performances of the play on Valentine’s Day each year, as a commercialised exploitation of women’s genital liberation. Some suspect that the use of The Vagina Monologues to advance the Cause of stopping sexual violence is motivated more by Ensler’s self-promoting demagogue tendencies than anything else – it’s good rabble-rousing stuff – and doubt that it has any real chance of achieving its avowed goal.

Betty Dodson (renowned feminist sexologist) also complains that the sexual organ is the clitoris not the vagina. The vagina is the bit that men are most interested in for their pleasure – but the clitoris is what brings us ours.

Dodson also strongly criticises the way in which The Vagina Monologues keeps bringing violence into our sexuality. She would rather it brought us a purer celebration and exploration of our sexuality, liberating women to have orgasms instead of endlessly reiterating the equation between sexuality and violence and perpetuating the sexual repression under which we all live.

I report these criticisms because I can see that they may well have some validity.

But I also think we need to remember that this is something new. These days we have very little in the way of a culture of genuine female sexuality. We also have an awful lot of a lot of issues with our genitals and our sexuality, and suffer from repression and sexual violence to an astonishing degree. The Vagina Monologues tries to talk about all these things. However incompletely, however clumsily or inadequately it may do so, I think that even making the attempt can only be a good thing.

So, yes, maybe it gets a few things wrong. Maybe it would be better if, for example, there was less focus on the word “vagina” and more focus on other words and other parts of our genital anatomy. Maybe it would be better to include more monologues, a wider range of views. I certainly wanted more! Yes, maybe it could do better.

But it’s a start, and in my view it is a fantastically good start. Whatever opinions or attitude you might form after seeing or reading it, I would repeat, it is a must-see/read play!

It might even change your life.

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