“The Vagina Monologues” lack intersectionality

Columnist Kendall Grove

Columnist Kendall Grove

Feminism is a source of controversy in the current political climate in the U. S. With the recent women’s marches it may seem like feminism is more relevant now than ever, but it continues to be a debated topic.

In response to the 21st centuries emphasis on feminism, many college campuses have begun putting on a play that focuses mostly on women’s issues. “The Vagina Monologues” is a play written by Eve Ensler, and it was first performed in 1996 and since then has been performed in over 140 countries .

However, in 2015 Mount Holyoke College which is an all girls school in Massachusetts decided to stop performing “The Vagina Monologues.” The college’s Project Theater Board wrote in an email, “At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.”

Mount Holyoke College’s accusation of “The Vagina Monologues” is not an exaggeration. The show calls attention to women’s genitalia in a way that excludes anyone who identifies as a transgender woman. It also excludes anyone who identifies as asesxual due to the sexual nature of the show.

The majority of the stories in “The Vagina Monologues” directly relate to female genitalia. One of the stories, “Because He Liked To Look At It,” follows the tale of a woman who is ashamed of her female genitalia to learning to love it. This is kind of a story is not targeted towards anyone without traditional female genitalia.

“Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions,” said Mount Holyoke’s Project Theater Boards. The college had decided to replace the show with a series of new monologues that are inclusive of all identities and minorities.

A reason for “The Vagina Monologues”  flaws could be the era is was written in. It has been 20 years since 1996 and feminism has evolved. In the 21st century, feminism is much more mainstream and is concerned with gender equality and women’s rights.

“The Vagina Monologues” are only concerned with sex and body positivity. Both sex and body positivity fall under the general category of feminism, but they fail to address the relevant topic of gender equality when it is needed most.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource, one in five women are raped while in college and 63 percent of rape is not even reported to police. “The Vagina Monologues” depicts what is statutory rape of a teenage girl by an older woman in a positive light. The girl in the story describes the older woman as her “politically incorrect salvation.”

In “The Vagina Monologues” story, “Because He Liked To Look At It,” a male is described as “ordinary” and “nondescript.” The story goes on to explain how this woman did not particularly like this man but he helped her become confident with her genitalia. The story is meant to be funny, but ends up leaving men objectified.

This aspect of “The Vagina Monologues” makes it hard to accept as a form of female empowerment on a college campus. Feminism on college campuses is important and where many young women learn that their place in the world can be limitless.  

Sonoma State University, along with other universities, should work towards finding a more inclusion and modern proclamation of feminism.

Many of “The Vagina Monologues” performances donate the money they make from performances to women specific organizations. Last year Sonoma State’s performance of “The Vagina Monologues” donated their profit to Verity, which is a sexual assault hotline.

The intention of “The Vagina Monologues” is noble, but ends up not discussing the important aspects of female empowerment and missing the entire topic of gender equality.