Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues” just won’t die. When I first read of the play more than a decade ago, it sounded bizarre. When I saw the playwright, Eve Ensler, interviewed on TV, she was another kooky, man-hating feminist and her play was becoming a rallying point for NOW (National Organization for Women) types and “Women’s Studies” majors across the country. When I spoke disdainfully of it last year in front of a young, female colleague, she asked, “Have you ever read it?”

“No,” I admitted and she offered to lend it to me. I promised to check it out, but not to read it all if it didn’t grab me. It was interesting the way train wrecks are interesting and so short that I read it all. It was even more bizarre than the newspaper descriptions because most of its content couldn’t be published in a newspaper. Women chanted several dozen slang terms for that part of their anatomy - way more than I’d ever heard. Then they described what their vagina looked like, smelled like, what it would say if it could speak, and what it would wear if it could get dressed up. It reminded me of puerile conversations sixth grade boys would have about their anatomy when out of the earshot of adults. But these were grown women.

My wife didn’t want to read the book last year, but I persuaded her to watch an HBO film of the play I rented from Netflix starring its author, Eve Ensler. Her impression was the same as mine - bizarre. Then a local theater company decided to produce it at the Magic Lantern in nearby Bridgton, Maine - a community whose newspaper carries this column. I thought it would be interesting to watch local women willing to shout the C-word to an audience and see if the audience would join in the chant. Again, it would be interesting the way a train wreck is. I bought tickets, but then gave them away when the date conflicted with a trip to Ireland.

Last weekend, a theater company in North Conway, New Hampshire produced it - another community whose newspaper carries this column. My wife said, “Nah. I’ll stay home. You go.” It was a very small venue at M&D Productions, but nice enough and quite reasonable at $15. They even served wine which I could take into the theater with me - very civilized. Most of the actresses were my age - late middle age - and so was the audience - mostly women and about 80% late middle aged. The script was modified with local writers adding monologues, but the flavor was the same. Women offering feminist laments about bad treatment of them and their vaginas by the world at large - especially by men, of course.

Being familiar with the script, I was more interested in watching the audience. Most laughed in that way some junior high school girls will when they’re shocked at outrageous sexual comments made by junior high boys. They don’t consider the remarks funny, but laugh because they don’t know how else to react. It seemed that some of the men laughed because they thought they were supposed to and it would have been impolite not to. I smiled at one performance by a local woman mimicking a triple orgasm. She bettered Meg Ryan’s performance in “When Harry Met Sally.”

The play’s nadir was a monologue by an actress playing a 13-year-old girl describing her seduction by a 24-year-old woman.

“Vagina Monologues” explored many aspects of vaginas except what I would consider their most important one - procreation. Vaginas are, after all, vehicles for pregnancy and birth. Ensler said in a revised version of TVM: “I had been performing this piece for over two years when it suddenly occurred to me that there were no pieces about birth. It was a bizarre omission.”

Um, yeah.

Radical feminists’ disconnect from the maternal is the essence of what’s bizarre about them. Ensler went on: “Although when I told a journalist [about] this [bizarre omission] recently, he asked me, ‘What’s the connection [between vaginas and birth]?’”

Uh-duh. It’s hard to imagine any journalist asking that question. I know there are dumb ones out there, but still. Ensler then described how she was present at a birth and what she saw. I’ve been present at four and it wasn’t a bad piece of writing.

TVM’s forward was written by feminist guru Gloria Steinem, who seems to deny that women have a maternal instinct at all. In his television special “Boys and Girls Are Different: Men, Women, and the Sex Difference,” ABC’s John Stossel asked Steinem: “Aren't women, in general, better nurturers?” Icily, she answered: “No. Next question.” In TVM’s forward, she referred to the women’s movement as an alternative to the “patriarchal/political/religious control over women’s bodies as a means of reproduction.” Is Steinem referring to abortion here? I learned elsewhere that she’s had at least one herself and described it as “a pivotal and constructive experience.”

Constructive experience? Abortion?

Given that vaginas are the vehicle for 40 million-plus abortions in the United States alone, and given that abortion is the single most important issue on the radical feminist agenda, it’s very interesting that it's completely ignored in what has become the iconic feminist play. Maybe that’s because the worst and most horrible violence perpetrated on a vagina is by a woman’s own choice.


Anonymous said...

It is a very sick society out there, Tom, one in which few moral values can be found. How much longer can this country last before God chooses to punish it?

Harvey in North Baldwin

Anonymous said...

I sure am glad that I don't live my life in fear that God will punish us. No, I choose to simply lead a good life, harming no one, and being happy.

Anonymous said...


Z-man said...


DAWN said...

ummmm not sure how to comment on this here issue.

I echo the sentiments of Harvey in North Baldwin.

Irregardless NH said...

A careful examination of Educator McLaughlin's screed reveals that, before even reading the play, he had made up his mind that Eve Ensler was a "kooky, man-hating feminist". This uncanny ability to come to a conclusion without a single fact speaks volumes for EMcL's objectivity and syllogistic 'thinking' [sic].

One suspects that, like many men, Tom is uncomfortable with the term 'vagina'. It must make him squirm.

Typically, he also parrots the usual misogynistic cant:

"abortion is the single most important issue on the radical feminist agenda"

This belies a deliberate misunderstanding of what the feminist agenda is all about.

But, hey, go for it Tom!

I will, however, give him plaudits for actually seeing the play at M&D in North Conway. I'll give him that.

Beaver Bob said...

Harvey and Dawn see vaginas as a disease. Tom is scared of vaginas. Anonymous 2 thinks vaginas are icky.

Yet all of you people claim to be Christians who, presumably believe in the myth of creation. Why then, if God created vaginas did he make them so icky and scary? And why do so many men spend so much time trying to get into an icky scary place?

DAWN said...

Beaver Bob needs to gnaw himself a clue. :)

P. C. Poppycock said...

Thanks for the photos; they add so much. I'm having a pillow made that says "I love your vagina too" in case I ever decide to attend the show.

It's amazing what you can draw out of the corners of the moon by commenting on this sacred work. Here in Brunswick, we've had to endure all sorts of bathing in it, thanks to Bowdoin College, among other things.

The defining moment for me, however, was when the play was advertised in our former Church's newsletter. This is the Church once led by a Minister who could not vote against partial birth abortions because that would "violate the private relationship between a woman and her doctor."

I considered that the most tortured rationalizing I had ever encountered.

PS: it appears the time stamp for this comment will be off by 3 hours.

Anonymous said...

"Tom is scared of vaginas"

Give Tom a break, he is working out some sexual issues. He is just starting to realize that being gay is NOT a choice, but he still has some strange gay phobias/fascinations to come to terms with.

Anonymous said...

As a former reader in the Vagina Monologues, I do see your point. The play does not directly support a pro-life agenda.

However, it does support a woman's right to self-respect, confidence, and dignity. It shows that abuse should not be a shameful secret; that control of a relationship is not held by one party; that sexuality is fun and loving; and in the final monologue it describes the power of the vagina. "I was there in the room" is about birth and it is awesome.

Maybe next time, you should pay attention to the words, rather than the audience and keep an open mind.

Anonymous said...

Tom keep an open mind?!?


Anonymous said...

No where does it mention that the 40,000,000 abortions took place over a period of 28 years. That does not make it right but a little intellectual honesty is in order. Otherwise you are showing all the symptoms of a repressed, probably Catholic and even Irish upbringing.
I watched the 'original' production on one of the cable channels and it was interesting but I did not read a lot into it. Most of society has survived the militant womens lib movement and it seems we will survive. Stop being so uptight Tom, without someone having a vagina you would not be here.

Bucky Beaver said...

Radical feminists? Militant womens movement? How threatened you boys are!

Are there any non-radical feminists, Mr. McLaughlin?

Anonymous said...

Not only are they all radicals, Bucky, but they are also all fat. I know this becuase I read it in another of Tom's columns.

Anthony Tiani said...

I can't wait to see what group that thinks different from Tom will be labeled radicals next week!

Doesn't it seem a bit hypocritical when you constantly bemoan seemingly everyone who isn't an Anglo-conservative-Christian as "radicals" yet you get all uppity when someone labels you and all of your supporters "homophobes"?

Anthony Tiani said...

P.S. Keep waiting for "god" to fulfill your desire for blood-lust, Harvey and Dawn--it will never happen.

DAWN said...

"Keep waiting for "god" to fulfill your desire for blood-lust, Harvey and Dawn--it will never happen."

hmmmm sounds like something, along the idea, that was said about the Titanic.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, stop that Anthony...Dawn wants to see god start slaughtering again, let her have her little fantasy.

Anthony Tiani said...

"hmmmm sounds like something, along the idea, that was said about the Titanic."

That fuzzy analogy you tried to draw doesn't fit. For one, the Titanic actually existed--"god" doesn't.

Anthony Tiani said...

"Yeah, stop that Anthony...Dawn wants to see god start slaughtering again, let her have her little fantasy."

That's the funny thing about fundamentalist Christians; they claim to be so much more sophisticated than violent Muslims, yet they secretly (or not so secretly) wish harm upon others. They just want their invisible space god to do the dirty work for them.

Jim said...

I'm going to take the liberty of introducing a new law concerning the comments section of Tom's Blog called DAWN's Law.

Similar to Godwin's law that states:

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

DAWN's Law is defined:

As an online discussion on Tom's Blog grows longer, the probability of a theological/biblical argument between anti-Christians/Atheists and DAWN approaches 1.

Anthony Tiani said...

Spot on, Jim. I should take my own advice and ignore the biblical trap as well. I'll try harder to keep the discussion on topic.

DAWN said...

"That fuzzy analogy you tried to draw doesn't fit. For one, the Titanic actually existed--"god" doesn't."

willing to bet your (eternal)life on it?

and btw..the only one(s) who are mostly speaking about God and theology on this thread are you guys who oppose him so much.

We'll just have to agree to disagree and move on. One thing's for certain..you will know one minute after you die!

Have a great day guys!

Anonymous said...

You are a moron, Dawn

DAWN said...

@ Anthony:

"That fuzzy analogy you tried to draw doesn't fit. For one, the Titanic actually existed--"god" doesn't."

How do you know the Titanic existed?

Alex said...

"How do you know the Titanic existed?"

*sigh* Once we get into this argument, there's no going back to reason. How do we know anything happened, Dawn? We can't, for sure, even if we were there. But that's all philosophical. What's real is how what "happened" impacts our presents lives. If you are trying to argue for God by saying we can't prove anything happened or didn't happen, you may not disagree with my affiliation with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I mean, after all, you can't prove he isn't real, right?