As a disclaimer, I wrote this from my perspective alone and not as the view of the entire cast of The Vagina Monologues. Though, I’m sure some people agree with me.
I’ve written about my glorious journey of feminism and what the Vagina Monologues had to do with it, so you know the story (probably), but my tiny and well-formed feminist princess bubble was popped after a staff writer at the Sonoma State Star wrote an article called “‘The Vagina Monologues’ lack diversity”. It was published before our show, on February 23, while our performance was later that weekend (February 24-26th), so it obviously wasn’t a response to us.
I just want to say I’m not pissed about this article because I’m biased, I mean, obviously, I’m biased. I’m pissed because of the misinformation and nonchalance that surrounds it. It begins with some pretty accurate information, stating that it was written as a response to the “controversy” around feminism in the 21st century (which is partly true, it was written in the 20th century during the 3rd wave of feminism, which is known as being really white and cis-gender focused) by Eve Ensler.
Now, before I get into the nitty gritty, I can see how the basis of this argument can be completely valid. Yeah, The Vagina Monologues does provide a pretty narrow perspective of what it means to be a “woman” and what the word “vagina” even describes. I wouldn’t have been angry if it provided actual evidence on why that is. However, when the author begins to talk about some all-girls school in Massachusetts that dropped the play because it isn’t inclusive (which, why should I care, really?) and then goes into two or three different pieces that aren’t considered inclusive, I lost all sanity completely.
As a Sonoma State student, I don’t give a flying fuck about Mount Holyoke College. If you’re writing a piece about the Vagina Monologues and that’s a club on campus, I want to hear some drama about campus life…because…it’s the Sonoma State Star, not the Mount Holyoke Star. Also, yeah, “Because He Liked to Look at It”, or “Bob” as it’s commonly referred to, is about “female genitalia” (which if we’re talking about “the gender norm” and “not being inclusive” these two words don’t work together because it’s categorizing that all females have the same genitalia) but the thing that isn’t being mentioned is that these are real people’s stories. In fact, the beginning of the show has an entire a piece about it called “Introduction” that talks about all of the different women who were interviewed, and it’s commonly known to anyone who’s seen the show that it’s based off of real women’s stories. So, yeah, Bob is about a woman with a vagina, but that doesn’t mean it’s saying that every woman has to have a vagina.
Honestly, I’m most peeved at the fact that the piece “They Tried to Beat the Girl out of my Boy…Or So They Tried” isn’t mentioned at all. The whole narrative is exclusively about trans women and the moments that are beautiful and joyous, and the moments that aren’t. In fact, the introduction says, “As part of Eve’s work to include the voices of all women who face violence, she interviewed a diverse group of transwomen in preparation for creating this piece. This piece was performed for the first time by and all transgendered cast in LA in 2004.” Yeah, I’ve got a huge issue with the play taking 8 years to include the voices of transgender women and redefining the use of the word “vagina” by adding their voice into this important narrative. It was long overdue, but the addition of the piece shows Eve’s commitment to making the show more inclusive.
Maybe I’ve just heard these pieces performed one too many times, but there’s a deeper meaning to every single line that first meets the eye, or better yet, the ear. Yes, “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” does depict statutory rape in what you could say is a positive light, and yes there is even a line when the woman calls it her “politically incorrect salvation.” If you’ve seen the show, it’s a long piece. If you haven’t seen the show, you don’t know that there are several memories from the woman, about how her “coochie snorcher” was a “bad luck zone” that has repeatedly been mutilated, abused, and shamed; when she finally describes the first time that she has a good experience with someone sexually, it’s still not the way it’s supposed to be. That’s a real woman’s story, from Louisiana, who lived in a homeless shelter where she fell in love. So to say that the piece is wrong is invalidating her story and therefore invalidating her. If you’d like to read the piece you can here.
Even ignoring all of these other things, to have the third to last (very short) paragraph state that “Sonoma State, along with other universities, should work towards finding a more inclusion and modern proclamation of feminism” is complete horse shit, mostly because the article hasn’t mentioned SSU’s version of the Vagina Monologues at all up to this point. What kind of statement is that? We (along with other universities, of course) should work on more inclusion? I think that’s the whole point of the show, is more inclusion, and maybe if this was an actual article about our show, there would be notes about how our club has taken strides in being more inclusive. How so, you might ask? Last year there was a piece written and performed by Yasmine Tadross, a trans student; this year our design included the trans symbol instead of the female one; there was a piece called “Pussy Privilege” written by Pam Rivas, a co-director, which spoke about the misconceptions of what pussy privilege even means; there was a piece written by Eve Ensler titled “I Call You Body” about the strife of female laborers; and lastly, every dime of ticket sales go directly to Verity, Sonoma County’s only rape crisis center, which serves anyone who asks for help. It’s not just a “sexual assault hotline” and to call it so is a serious miscarriage of information.
Verity does have a 24/7 crisis hotline, and it’s not just for sexual assualt survivors. It’s of course available to survivors of any kind of abuse, however, it’s also open to friends and family who want to learn how to support the survivors in their lives.
The hotline number is (707) 545-7273. You can find Verity’s website here if you’d like to learn more about what they do and how they do it.