Culture

Yet Another School Decides ‘The Vagina Monologues’ Is Offensive to Women Without Vaginas

Eve Ensler (center) and cast celebrate the tenth anniversary of Vagina Monologues in 2008. (Reuters photo: Lee Celano)
How can it be "antiquated" when people still do have vaginas?

American University has become the latest school to do away with its annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues” on the grounds that it’s not inclusive to women without vaginas.

According to an e-mail obtained by Campus Reform, the the AU Women’s Initiative decided to do away with its annual performance of the play on the grounds that it represents an “antiquated way of viewing gender.”

“The VM represents a binary representation of gender, implying that in order to be a woman you must have a vagina, which is an antiquated way of viewing gender,” Kendall Baron, a member of the AU Women’s Initiative, stated in the email. “People are more than their sexual organs and have varied and personal relationships with their bodies.”

Instead of “The Vagina Monologues,” Baron explained, the group is planning to host a performance of the “Breaking Ground Monologues,” an alternative that is just about body parts in general:

“We’re asking that all monologues be written about some subject in relation to your body, in whatever way that means to you,” she continues. “Be it how you feel about your body in relation to food, or your gender identity, sexuality, or trauma.”

Now, “Breaking Ground Monologues” is presented as a sort of adapted-for-the-times version of VM, but anyone who knows what words mean can see that that really can’t be the case. I mean, “how you feel about your body in relation to food”? I don’t mean to blow anyone’s mind here, but the experience of having a vagina and the experience of eating food are two totally different things. Taking away the vagina-specificness of “The Vagina Monologues” isn’t making the show more progressive; it’s making a different show.

Just what the hell is so wrong with wanting to talk about having a vagina?

As ridiculous as all of this is, the kids at AU aren’t the first to decide that the “Vagina” part of “The Vagina Monologues” makes it too transphobic to perform. Whitman College has also replaced its performances of the VM with “Breaking Ground Monologues,” and Mount Holyoke College has canceled its performances entirely — both in the name of not offending the women without vaginas. And the more popular this idiotic line of thinking becomes, the more I feel like I just have to ask: Just what the hell is so wrong with wanting to talk about having a vagina?

As the author of “The Vagina Monologues” Eve Ensler, told Time last year:

“‘The Vagina Monologues’ never intended to be a play about what it means to be a woman. It is and always has been a play about what it means to have a vagina. In the play, I never defined a woman as a person with a vagina.”

It’s true: No matter how you identify, having a vagina is, in fact, different from not having a vagina. Crazy, I know. Having a vagina is, in itself, a particular experience, and if you’re going to say that a show about a particular experience is offensive because it excludes other experiences, then please realize that you’re arguing for the cancelation of literally every creative work ever. Not a single work of art in existence could be described as relating to every individual, and to demand that one should is nothing short of insane.

#related#No doubt, being a person who identifies as a woman but does not have a vagina must be a difficult experience, and the people who are going through that deserve acceptance and respect. But by definition, “The Vagina Monologues” is about vaginas. Vaginas are very clearly the subject of the show, so if you don’t have a vagina, then why the hell would you be complaining that you’re not included? Complaining because a show centered around a specific experience doesn’t also include your experience makes about as much sense as walking into a gynecologist’s office and demanding a prostate exam.

Would the world benefit from having more diverse works of art out there? Of course. But regardless, saying that a play about vaginas is “antiquated” and no longer has a place in our society because it’s about vaginas is just completely, factually wrong. After all, believe it or not, there are plenty of people out there who still have them.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online

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