Eve Ensler is the author of The Vagina Monologues.
Years ago when I was a young lil lolz doll, a boy I <3ed asked me to go to a performance of The Vagina Monologues. This should have been a great day as I had previously been concerned that the bro was kind of sexist. So we went, and I hoped our lil liberal <3s would make a connection. Instead it was an awful, uncomfortable experience.
It was garish. I felt uncomfortable with the way parts of my body were being described, and because it was feminists who were doing the describing, I also felt like a baby for not wanting to talk about my ‘cunt’. The production was focused on shocking and shaming me into agreement (because if you’re a true feminist you agree—see the “No True Scotsman" fallacy), rather than prompting dialogue or initiating change on these issues.
I don’t think Eve Ensler is as concerned with making a change as she is with being viewed as someone who wants to make a change. Here’s why:
1. It’s a gimmick.
Ensler’s gimmick is using words like ‘cunt’ and ‘pussy’ liberally. She chose to turn the vernacular term ‘vday’ from referring to Valentine’s Day, a day celebrating romantic love between two people, to a day where she and her folllowers monologue at people about all of their sexual problems and misgivings (unless of course that sex is between two women).
2. It’s specifically meant to be self-congratulatory (only).
She isn’t lobbying for policies that would make us equal, she isn’t creating programs for victims of abuse, she’s ‘raising awareness’ through her writing.
Problem is, changing people’s minds takes a little bit of humility.
You can’t attack someone and at the same time convince them. Furthermore, describing female genitalia in a way meant to illicit shock and discomfort does less for promoting equality than it does for explicitly reinforcing the ‘other-ness’ of womanhood. Great, just what we need.
3. It’s anti-intellectual.
It shames, rather than welcomes, dissention. I can tell you this is the single biggest red flag that something is amiss. I’ve blogged about it before.
I compare Ensler to PETA because they both represent worthy causes, but both seem more concerned with the drama, sensationalism, and infamy generated by their extreme liberal, minority views than with actually ‘making a difference’. I’m left wondering if either PETA or Ensler would be happy to have the view they represent assimilated into the mainstream, or if they’d be disappointed that the shock value and ‘causeyness’ of their campaign had diminished.
PETA has long been critiqued for their grandstanding and stunts, and I think the same criticism can be levied against Ensler. I say this because I think if changing views and treatment of women worldwide was more than a secondary concern, she would be producing something called ‘Male and Female Sexual Dialogues’, not ‘The Vagina Monologue’.
This may be helpful in getting more people to think about violence against women and even donate to worthy causes. However, based on the play itself, I can’t imagine these sentiments splintering from ‘raising awareness’ into something that’s actually helpful.