PC Culture

Student Op-ed: Vagina Monologues Play Problematic, Even Though It Contained a Piece by Trans Women

Vagina Monologues playwright Even Ensler (center) with cast members in in New Orleans, La., in 2008. (Lee Celano/Reuters)
Not everything must be inclusive.

A University of Tulsa student wrote an op-ed criticizing the school’s performance of The Vagina Monologues on the grounds that it might be problematic for women without vaginas — even though it contained at least one piece from trans women.

“‘The Wear and Say Lists’ . . . was collected responses from questions by [The Vagina Monologues author Eve] Ensler: what would your vagina wear and say? . . . This piece emphasized a theme running throughout the play: women are their vaginas, a reductory view that has been criticized through the years,” Michaela Flonard wrote in a piece titled “‘The Vagina Monologues’ affirming, maybe problematic.”

“The theme that vaginas were the essential part of a woman was a little too much for me; it felt overly simplistic and ignoring those who fell outside the gender binary,” Flonard continued.

The idea that The Vagina Monologues is offensive to trans women without vaginas is not a new one, and one that I’ve written about before. In 2016, American University canceled its performance of the show for that reason; in 2015, Mount Holyoke College did the same thing. Presumably, an awareness of these concerns was exactly why this performance included a piece titled “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy — or So They Tried,” written by a group of trans women.

Honestly, to me, Flonard’s piece seems like a classic example of looking for a problem where there just isn’t one. She felt that the “theme” was “ignoring those who fell outside the gender binary,” but the play contained a piece written by trans women. What more could Flonard really expect?

The idea that a play called “The Vagina Monologues” might have some kind of focus on vaginas is not mind-blowing.

Look. The idea that a play called “The Vagina Monologues” might have some kind of focus on vaginas is not mind-blowing. What’s more, I actually think that’s perfectly okay. Although there are some people who identify as women who do not have vaginas, there are lots of people who do have vaginas. Why aren’t the people who do have them allowed to talk about their experiences with them? I can’t think of a single good reason.

Not being able to express your thoughts and feelings about your vagina (if you are the type of person who feels like that’s how you want to spend your time) because not everyone has a vagina is one of the most idiotic things that I’ve ever heard. Using that logic, no one should ever be able to talk about his or her experience with anything, unless everyone in the world has also had the exact same one. Do you even hear how ridiculous that sounds? We’re all unique people with unique sets of circumstances, which means that everything each one of us does or says won’t necessarily be “inclusive” or “relatable” to every single other person — and that’s perfectly okay.

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