Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vagina Monologues: Lesbian Pedophile Seduction

It was just announced Monday. The controversial play “The Vagina Monologues” is going to be performed on the Marquette campus.

To get some idea of the controversy surrounding the play, check out an editorial in the Marquette Tribune endorsing the idea, and a column by GOP3 blogger Daniel Suhr opposing it.

We’ve just watched the HBO version of “The Vagina Monologues” (which we got from the Raynor Library), and read the 2006 version of the script at the same time.

Our first reaction is that this whole controversy is silly. Much of TVM is shtick humor, no more raunchy than what one might see on Comedy Central, in which audiences titter -- with a teenage level of maturity -- at hearing naughty words.

As a columnist in Slate put it:
Considering all the brouhaha surrounding The Vagina Monologues--Eve Ensler’s one-woman show, which has become a cult artwork and a rallying point for feminist activists and fund-raisers--the volume that reproduces them is bewilderingly slim. “You mean this,” the incredulous noninitiate will ask, “is it?”

This is an insultingly slim book. It consists of a handful of monologues by women who once felt uncomfortable with, but now rejoice in, their vaginas. There’s an inhibited old woman, an abused Southern black woman who becomes a lesbian, a lesbian dominatrix, a masturbation enthusiast, and a woman who wants to “reclaim” -- from whom is left unclear -- the word “cunt.” The book is padded with a few tiresome questionnaires devoted to what your vagina would wear if you dressed it up, what it would say if it could talk, and (this of a 6-year-old girl) what your vagina smells like, as well as a half-dozen “Vagina Facts” (like that the clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the penis).

The first thing that will strike nonideologues is Ensler’s clumsy prose, which ranges between bad Rod McKuen (“It was a mouth. It was the morning.”) and the very worst of Henry Miller (“Then the quivering became a quake, an eruption, the layers dividing and subdividing”). While Ensler would call this a work of desacralizing, it’s ultimately a work of desexualizing. I take a backseat to no one in my enthusiasm for the vagina itself, but the Vagina According to Ensler is a combination between a bath toy and a household appliance. Its vision of female sexuality is at least as narrow and insulting as Henry Miller: A woman is a machine you work like a crank until you produce the desired quantity of fluid--from you and from her.
The show most certainly does talk about “violence against women” (the supposed socially redeeming aspect of the play) but that is only a small part. If somebody really wants to educate people about that issue, there are better ways than having a female actress read what is really little more than a stand-up comedy routine.

Conservatives have made much of some morally questionable monologues, and such monologues are certainly there.

The most notorious is the one in which a lesbian seduces a teenage girl.

If one reads the 2006 version of the script, one will find that the girl is 16 years old, and the lesbian who seduces her is 24.

But the script has been sanitized. In the original off-Broadway version, the girl was 13 years old. (The HBO version uses the sanitized script too.)

This is a bit like a politician who uses the “n-word” to refer to black people, and then manages to edit the word out of the only recording of him doing that. One can’t forget the way he really spoke. And one can’t forget that Ensler had the adult lesbian seducing a 13-year-old.

The seduction is portrayed as a sort of liberation. The character says:
Afterwards the gorgeous lady teaches me everything about my Coochi Snorcher [vagina]. She makes me play with myself in front of her and she teaches me all the different ways to give myself pleasure. She’s very thorough. She tells me to always know how to give myself pleasure so I’ll never need to rely on a man. In the morning I am worried that I’ve become a butch because I’m so in love with her. She laughs, but I never see her again. I realize later she was my surprising, unexpected and politically incorrect salvation. She transformed my sorry-ass Coochi Snorcher and raised it into a kind of heaven.
Child molestation, in other words, becomes a liberating experience for the child.

At one point, the script read:
Now people say it was a kind of rape . . . Well, I say if it was rape, it was a good rape then, a rape that turned my sorry-ass coochi snorcher into a kind of heaven.
Our guess is that the feminists who tout this play would go ballistic at a favorable portrayal of a man raping a 13 year old girl. But we suppose different standards apply to lesbians.

Also suspect, from a Catholic moral perspective, is a monologue where the narrator is a lesbian dominatrix prostitute. At least she doesn’t engage in sex acts with children.

While we respect the position of the University that academic units can make their own decisions as to what sort of presentations are appropriate for the curriculum, we frankly can’t see why anybody would want to present this silly mélange. Anybody who thinks it’s somehow liberating for women has some very odd notions about “liberation.”

Some pundits have suggested a counter-production called the “Penis Parables” in which men recite the ways in which they obsess about their penises. But the irony here is that men traditionally have obsessed about their penises, while women have not obsessed about their vaginas.

Which is one of the ways in which women are generally more sensible than men.

But for feminists, this sort of gender difference is unacceptable.

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