Why "The Vagina Monologues" Is So Important
Start writing a post
Entertainment

Why "The Vagina Monologues" Is So Important

This play refuses to be whispered. It demands to be shouted.

1252
Why "The Vagina Monologues" Is So Important
San Jose State Gender Equity Center

For those who have never heard of "The Vagina Monologues," it is a play consisting of a series of monologues composed from interviews that writer Eve Ensler had with over 200 women of different backgrounds, sexualities, races, and ages. It first premiered in 1996 in New York City. The various monologues focus on topics ranging from childbirth, sex, love, sexual violence, menstruation, sex work, feeling altogether comfortable with one’s body, and, you guessed it, vaginas.

This past Saturday, UNLV had its benefit production of the play. All proceeds from the event went to the UNLV CARE Survivor Fund, an emergency funding source for students who are victims of sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, or stalking to help them get out of the situation and keep them safe.

My first experience with Eve Ensler’s "The Vagina Monologues" was in a women’s literature class during my freshman year of college. It was the first book that we read that I didn’t feel the need to scour the Internet for a SparkNotes or Shmoop for because it was too long, boring, or confusing. This was the first one that I genuinely enjoyed reading for its content, rather than its literary beauty, prose, or elegant syntax. This collection of monologues was something altogether different than what we had been reading. It was immediately relatable and that’s part of its magic.

It’s certainly not perfect. The criticisms of the play are endless and everyone has their own opinion about them. One of the most common criticisms is the lack of trans women’s experiences. However, UNLV’s production did include a trans woman’s monologue. There are many other critiques of the play that range from focusing too much on sexual violence to negative portrayals of heterosexual relationships. Whether you agree with the critiques or not, there are still several valid reasons why "The Vagina Monologues" is so important.

It normalizes the word "vagina."

The very first monologue in the book version is devoted to the names that people call their vaginas, including everything from “powderbox” and “peepe” to “coochi snorcher” and “mongo.” People often go out of their way not to use the word "vagina" and if they have to say it, they whisper it. The thing that people, myself included, forget, is that whispering it makes it seem bad and wrong and that can have lasting effects on a woman's self-esteem and body image.

Boys and men draw penises on notebooks, each other’s arms, and just about anything else, but women and girls are sometimes taught to not even say the word "vagina," much less draw it. Refusing to say it or call it something else creates a Voldemort effect and makes it seem scary and dangerous, but it’s just a word. My little sister’s friend was sent to the principle’s office in elementary school for just saying the word vagina. She wasn't being derogatory or even calling someone a vagina, she just said the word. This play refuses to be whispered. It demands to be shouted.

It encourages body positivity.

There are a few different monologues like, “The Vagina Workshop,” “Because He Liked To Look At It,” and “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” amongst others, that have an underlying theme about body positivity. In a society that tells women to not be too sexual, too confident, or too much of anything, many of these monologues tell the stories of women embracing their vaginas and, subsequently, themselves.

It’s not an easy process. It takes some time to undo the internalized oppression that make-up, clothing, and waxing advertisements have etched into our brains since we were too small to understand what they meant. This play proves that it’s possible to undo the damage and love yourself.

It brings attention to V-DAY.

On Valentine’s Day in 1998, Eve Ensler, with the help of a group of women, created the first V-DAY. V-DAY is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. The current statistic is that one in every three women in the world will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime, so it is imperative to bring attention to organizations like this one.

It shows young girls and grown women that they’re not alone.

So many topics regarding vaginas are considered taboo and girls grow up not only with skewed ideas about their sexualities, but, because no one is talking about it, they also grow up with the isolating idea that they’re the only ones going through this. There’s one monologue called, “I Was Twelve. My Mother Slapped Me,” consisting of the stories of different women getting their periods for the first time. It’s such an overwhelming experience that young girls go through, but no one talks about it.

Men, and often women too, will cringe or become uncomfortable at the mere mention of the words "period," "tampons," or "cramps." Young girls grow up hiding it, whispering about it, or pretending like it’s not happening, but it is. Maybe it’s a decade or even several decades too late for the women watching or reading, but the other women’s stories still make them feel a little less alone in this ongoing and overwhelming experience that is being a woman.

Eve Ensler managed to create a free and safe space where women can share their life experiences with others. It’s a sounding board, therapy session, open forum, and empowering rally all in one. Reading this play for the first time allowed me feel less like I was the only one with certain characteristics or worries. I felt more united, like I was a part of something bigger than just me. I was a part of a sisterhood.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

190093
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

130110
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

54764
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

245956

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

145659

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

95842
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Take A Look At The Extravagant Lane Woods Jewelry Collection For Valentine's Gift Ideas

So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection

321508

Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, so are pearls, rubies, gold, emeralds, and any type of luxurious jewelry you can get your hands on! A woman is incomplete without a piece of jewelry on her and it is a gorgeous accessory required for all occasions. So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

50 Iconic Quotes From 'The Golden Girls' That Will Always Make You Laugh

"People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half empty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever's in the glass."

434832

"The Golden Girls" created history when it first premiered in 1985 setting the stage of strong-willed female characters who are aging gracefully with dignity. It is a treasure trove filled with humorous scenes and situations that will always be relevant to watch. I still rejoice in watching these spectacular women embrace life with full stride and the way they always strive to focus on the brighter side of life.

These 4 dynamic and awe-inspiring women taught us that age is indeed nothing more than a number and that we can set out to accomplish anything our heart desires at any time.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments