The Vagina Monologues has been a fixture of feminist iconography since its opening in 1996. Charles Isherwood, writer for the New York Times, said of the Vagina Monologues that it is “probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade.” Keeping this introduction in mind gives an interesting lens with which to look at The Vagina Monologues.
The entire show consists of individual and collected true stories from women, ages 6 to 86, about their relationship with their vaginas. These stories range from the topics of infidelity, masturbation, menstruation, pubic hair, prostitution, child molestation, and rape. The show is also written through the most modern of feminist viewpoints, so it is accepting of lesbian and transgender lifestyles and portrays these stories as loving and intimate expressions of female sexuality.
The show is presented as empowering women to embrace their womanhood through embracing their vaginas (both literally and figuratively). I have a problem with this as a Christian, and as a woman, on multiple levels. Though Plato would be proud of Eve Ensler’s work, as this view implies that sexuality is all there is to the female experience.
When I interviewed the director of the show, what she had to say on the matter was, “I never want anyone to take away from The Monologues that it’s just about sex and sexuality because it’s really not. It’s about owning those things and being allowed to be comfortable in your skin because you are a sexual being.” This is all good and well, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Whether the intention was to define women by their sexuality or not, that is what the show does. It cannot be escaped. I don’t know of any woman who would want to be exclusively defined by her sexuality.
The worldview of this play is the epitome of modern feminism, and this is a feminism that endorses both reproductive rights and apparently, in the case of this play, lesbian child molestation. One of the stories told was about a fourteen-year-old girl who met an older lady. This woman kissed her and coerced her into other activities. In the play this story is told as a beautiful tale of self-discovery and not as sexual assault on a minor. But since there is the pleasuring of a female involved, the story serves the political purposes of the writer.
In The Vagina Monologues, feminine pleasure is seen as the ultimate good in the world and there is no greater good than this. The only men in the story who are praised or even looked on as good men are those who basically worship vaginas. Had the story above involved an older man who coerced the minor, it would be considered an outrage. The issue would be seen as it truly is, which is that a person was robbed of their innocence–and not by their own understanding of love and sex. I don’t know many fourteen-year-olds who know the depth and gravity of sex and love.
I also am not convinced that Eve Ensler has a complete understanding of sex and love. Through Christ, we are able to gain a complete picture of sexuality, love and marriage, as well as the amount of selflessness–not just pleasure–that it must be based in.