Women's College Cancels Annual Production of The Vagina Monologues...


Thank you, Dan.
oh fuck me this is stupid. when did tolerance and acceptance shift hard left to "we will ruin your shit if any outliers are excluded"?
Indeed...Katha Pollitt is right. This is inclusive PC jumping the shark.
Meh. The Theatre Board at Holyoke probably just thought that, rather than put on the same dang production year after year, they would create their own version. http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6202
Eve Ensler is gross in many ways --I've read really cogent objections to her work, including VM, by women of color. But those objections apparently were an also-ran on this. I had to burrow several articles in before I found this quote:

Replacing the play will be Mount Holyoke’s own version that will be trans-inclusive and fix the “problems” supposedly perpetuated by Ensler. Murphy also claims that there are problems with race, class, and “other identities” within the play.

Yeeeeeeah, I'm not convinced their replacement play will be any better on race or class or "other identities, whatever". No mention of the pro-female-on-female-rape monologue? No specific problems with the tenor of the tacked-on women of color monologues like "Under the Burqa"?

Really, I have no issue with the Vagina Monologues hitting the dustheap of history. I'm just perplexed that it's primarily being about vaginas which is their problem, rather than their being cheeseball myopic white-lady-centric 'empowerment-lite' masquerading as uplifting universal truths.
In related news, lesbians who have had both their legs amputated have started a petition on Change.org to ban the term "scissoring" as it does not accurately reflect the appearance of two women without legs rubbing the external portion of their internal genitals to achieve an orgasm.

This in turn led to an asexual petition demanding that the term orgasm be dropped in favor of "hysterial paroxysm" to better reflect the asexual communities views on the sexual contact.

Seriously, trans people face legitimate discrimination in so many ways, and THIS is what they freak out about? It's just like the "you may be 100% in favor of the rights of transsexual people, but you used the wrong set of gender-neutral pronouns to refer to me" brand of trans rage. UNJUMBLE YOUR JAMMIES, TRANS PEOPLE.
Sorry, all I can muster up is a laugh.
@8: This has the whiff of "trans allies," not actual trans people, about it.
@10: You mean this has the whiff of "people who have too much time on their hands and precious little common sense" about it.

@9 - you're doing better than I am.

@8 - I figure all the friendly fire arises from the fact that those are the only people who will pay attention or react.

Did you see the trans tantrum at Smith College a few months back?

Long story short, a dude in lipstick (i.e. a trans woman who has made no attempt to legally, socially, or medically transition aside from wearing lipstick; dude still goes by the name JUSTIN) threw a rage fit because Smith College still insists on being women-only and admitting only trans women who are making some sort of effort.

This isn't just an "ally" problem. The trans movement has a straight white male entitlement problem. The blatant censorship, especially of any women who have issues with mainstream trans activism; the silencing of women when trans women aren't even part of the discussion (it's the *Vagina* Monologues, not the Woman Monologues); the jumping in with "what about trans women" anytime a woman wants to talk about anything that affects her; the heaps of shit piled on trans men; trans "lesbians" getting angry and crying bigotry when lesbians don't want to fuck them.

Something is extremely fucking rotten here, and the only response is for "allies" like The Stranger to silence any critics, like how you deleted even relatively benign comments on your trans issue.
This sort of thing frustrates non-trans allies, obfuscates dialogue, turns off those who are in the process of developing more open attitudes to concepts of gender identity and plays right into the hands of the haters. Total fail.
To clarify my comment @15 I mean to say frustrates cis-gendered people who support trans-gender rights.
So I guess I should just skip pitching my version of penis puppetry theater to Mount Holyoke?
Are we all supposed to be the same, or are we all supposed to be different? I can't tell anymore.
@10: Indeed. This is a prime example of when someone who is so concerned with not appearing intolerant that they lose their fucking ability to reason and become stupid.
You know there is a problem when plays that have been out of decades are now taboo.. Holy Deep Fried Jesus.. The VM is a good play/reading..

I assume "Prayer to Owen Meany" is going to be banned because it is doesn't include baritone voice characters in the play/book..
1) Oh for fuck's sake. This is why the left can't have nice things. Because of the irritant SJWs who are more concerned with proving how much more inclusive than you are, how more aware of the pain of the downtrodden than you are, how wise and enlightened than you are. What's their goal here? What do they actually want to accomplish? What kind of future do they envision for women or transpeople (oh, did I use the wrong term? I think there's an asterisk now? Who can keep track when it changes every 5 minutes and getting it wrong means you're Sean Hannity). And they're wimps, too. Going after Mount Holyoke? That's the best use of their time? They don't have the balls to engage in the real dangers of the world so they attack people on their side, (I fucking hate the term allies), people like Dan Savage or Stephen Colbert or the creators of How I Met Your Mother or Katha Pollit. They're scared of engaging the real right-wing or the real power structure. Much safer and more fun to in-fight on tumblr.

2) The actual play The VM kind of sucks, right? Aren't we as a culture over the whole "I celebrate the fount of my womanhood" thing here the vagina is some kind of Wiccan power crystal or whatever. I have a vagina. It works, I enjoy it. Other people sometimes enjoy it. Why do we need to make it into some big hippie production? The penis-havers don't.
They're scared of engaging the real right-wing or the real power structure. Much safer and more fun to in-fight on tumblr.
Exactly. A kid just got bullied to death by her parents for being transgender. I guess we better protect transgender people by cancelling The Vagina Monologues. Now the world is a much more tolerant place.
This is about transphobes blaming trans people for something that didn't even happen. It's absurd.

The Vagina Monologues was not "cancelled" due to some type of trans outrage. The play has been criticized by feminists for many years for many reasons -- focus on experiences of wealthy white women, gender essentialism, trans-exclusivity, and even pro-child abuse sentiments.

A student theater group just decided not to do it this year. Instead, they're making their own ambitious production that will use fresher ideas and a broader range of experiences.


There is no ban on the word "vagina" on the new production or anywhere else. One anonymous blog commenter said it was banned, which is reactionary fear-mongering and not truth. The word will be used presumably many, many times in the new production. There's no reason you can't talk about vaginas without intentionally hurting people.

It's very telling when people jump to the conclusion that trans people are a threat to everyone else. It's the very definition of transphobia (fear of trans people).
Vagina. Vagina.Vagina.Vagina.Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.

Periods. Pregnancy. Breast Milk. Fishy Smells- just ban it all.
Middle Hole, Dan. On a cis woman, her vagina is the middle hole.
The UW students have presented their on version for several years, titled The _________ Monologues.
>being a biological female isn't feminist enough anymore

Watching this schizoid cult tear itself apart is absolutely hilarious.
Yes, The Vagina Monologues are flawed; yes they're not representative or inclusive of all vagina-havers' experiences. Have you ever heard the expression "let's not let the baby out with the bathwater?"

I work at a very small private university, whose student population isn't terribly worldly or politicized. My school is very racially diverse, but lots of students share a similar socioeconomic background. The shared experience brings them together in ways that I think are profound. Many of my students are pretty unsophisticated and naive, and an overwhelming majority of them come to campus as freshmen unfamiliar with The Vagina Monologues. Most of them have never heard of the play.

For the past three years we've been putting on productions, (we're in rehearsals right now for this year's). The students who put it together and produce it have graciously solicited the assistance of several faculty and staff members. I've been honored to be asked to participate. It's one of my prouder accomplishments because it tells me that the students see me as sympathetic to them and their concerns.

In an effort to get my students to attend more cultural programs, I always offer extra-credit to any student in any of my classes who attends and writes up a 2-3 page response. Inevitably my students that attend--both female and male--have a transformative experience: They get angry, they laugh, they feel empowered, they celebrate their sexuality--I know this because the responses they write and turn in to me tell me. Most of the students who act in or see this at my school are not white; most come from working-class backgrounds; many are immigrants or children of immigrants. They are almost as far away from Eve Ensler's lived experience as it is possible for women living in America to be. And it is a hugely influential and affecting experience for them, a real part of the learning experience that is supposed to be college.

So it may be out of date and smack of elitism and be trite to someone older and more sophisticated, more already aware and already self-loving and politically tuned-in. But perhaps you (we) aren't the people it's really written for.
Just. Fuck. This. I can't even.
There are times I miss the world of opera, pastrami sandwiches, bookstores, coffee shops open til midnight, clubs open til dawn, and progressive colleges.

This is not one of them.
@29, Being a biological female has never been feminist enough (see Schlafly, Phyllis). Some biological women hate feminism as much as the kind of sexually repressed pencil dick typically associated with hostility towards feminism.
The reaction of some Women’s Rights Activists to the demands for inclusiveness from Trans Rights Activists is sometimes suspiciously similar to the reaction of Men’s Rights Activists to the demands from Women’s Rights Activists: one of “But why do ‘they’ get a say in what ‘we’ want to do?". A reaction which, in today’s society, is often labeled as entitlement or privilege. Which is done in order to transform any attempt at defense or even simple explanation into “punching down." What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, eh? Fascinating.

Identity politics is tribalism that’s been weaponized for the ongoing culture wars. I wonder if “Puppetry of the Penis” will be the next domino to fall.
oh for fuck's sake.
@ 24, it isn't phobic to be outraged at censorship.
36- Who is censoring what? The theater group chose to produce their own play instead of licensing an existing one they didn't like for various reasons.

Even if it was angry trans activists who convinced the theater group to change their production (which it was NOT), that would be exactly free speech in action.

The foundation of the principle of free speech is the power to criticize to affect change. No definition of free speech means someone is obligated to perform a specific play regardless of their values.

An analogy would be if there was a play with monologues about marriage, but told stories of traditional rich, white, heterosexual marriages and a couple terrible depictions of abusive marriages by POC. If a college decided to put on their own play instead that included interracial marriage, gay marriage, open marriage, poly relationships, and other diverse marriage experiences, would that be censorship by gay activists? I'd say if someone made that claim, they'd be exhibiting homophobia.
Raku; this issue, though it may be misplaced in this instance, I haven't read all the pieces on it- has been raised before.
Your example @37, a little misleading. Because this issue is about biological women, changing the descriptive words for their body parts to accomodate trans* women. And why should we? It's bordering on a freak show, really.
Even as trans* women,
These biologically born males- are still trying to control (cis) women.
Where are the trans* men, complaining that the words penis and testes etc need to be changed, to accomodate them?
It's a form of fascism, body fascism and I cant understand how a trans* woman, can even go there.
Dan, Rupert Murdoch may be a little peeved, if he knew.
There you are, referenced in his SATURDAY, "Australian,"
( paper).. By a sex therapist. A positive reference it is, too.
I am a professional academic in the field of Gender and Sexuality and I get headaches on how often the initials change. Yes, the "Vagina Monologues" speak to a certain audience from a certain point of view. No play may be reasonably be expected to address the entire spectrum of possibilities and may I suggest the playwright had no intention (or maybe even the foresight) to address the challenges that the gender spectrum presents. Art is personal as well as highly visible. It seems complicated, but it is not. Some people appreciate the "Vagina Monologues" and others do not, whether they are trans, feminists, genderqueer, or whatever the designated preferred pronoun/s are. Art is intended to provoke reactions of all kinds. Nothing is more problematic than censoring art, whether it is the "Vagina Monologues" or the cartoons drawn by the staff cartoonists at "Charlie Hebdo." As such, whether people like the "Vagina Monologues" or not is immaterial to me. I do not censor others speech, I ask questions, because in the end, Art is supposed to provoke thought and questions.
raku @24: ‘There is no ban on the word "vagina" on the new production or anywhere else. One anonymous blog commenter said it was banned, which is reactionary fear-mongering and not truth. The word will be used presumably many, many times in the new production.’

Unless someone has evidence to the contrary, can we talk about why we’re so quick to accept fear-mongering to?
Alison, because this has been / is an issue. And if in this instance, people have jumped the gun- then it is because wanting the words vagina/ labia/ vulva/ clitoris obliterated, because trans* women need accomodating, has
Come up here before.
Easy to assume( maybe wrongly in this case), that this fascism is just popping up, again- someplace else.
@ 37, intimidating (which you misrepresent as "convincing") is coercion. Nothing free about that.
Oh heavens! Just ask Eve Ensler to write more. Or heck, ask some trans men and trans women to write a few monologues. There are probably some already. But don't cancel something that serves majority of a group just because a small subset ("group" being "people with vaginas") isn't specifically addressed. We're all in that position sooner or later. It's all part of working toward balance.
"Fronthole" ? Jesus. What dudebro douchebag came up with that one?

I find it hilarious you think it necessary to provide the definition of the word "transphobia", raku. You have clearly spent too much time on Tumblr.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, fuuuuuuuuck this Rush Lardass-esque SHIT this is so fucked up!

Thank you, Dan, for bringing this to our attention.

Can I just take a pill and go back to 1974 now?
We need the word vagina. It is the only word for the thing it refers to that is precise - referring to that thing and no other thing - and unburdened by connotations of euphemism or vulgarity. "Internal genitalia" is WAY too vague, as it can be construed to mean uterus, ovaries, and even male parts like the prostate gland. "Front hole" not only smacks of euphemism, it is again too vague, since it could refer to part of an animal's burrow, the entry wound of a gunshot, the mouth, any number of holes you find on manufactured products, etc. If you don't want your genitalia referred to as a vagina, that's fine, but telling other people they can't use this word - which is the only word that works for a very large number of linguistic applications - is inconsiderate and would make a lot of feminist conversation even more incomprehensible and inaccessible to people who didn't take any Gender Studies courses than it already is.

Making sure that the uninitiated can understand you and aren't hearing things that you didn't mean to say is critical for winning hearts and minds and not alienating the persuadables. My experience is that this is a big problem in both feminist and anti-racist discourse. If you want to be effective, you have to speak the language of the people you're trying to win instead of in-group speak.
Maybe if someone writes "The Neovagina Monologues" insufferable trans people and allies will finally shut up about this.
We need the word vagina. It is the only word for the thing it refers to that is precise - referring to that thing and no other thing - and unburdened by connotations of euphemism or vulgarity.

Well, technically and precisely, it isn't.

The beginning of this NSFW (but charming) sex-ed comic covers this: Oh Joy Sex Toy's How to Eat Pussy

If we're talking about sexual activity, the 'vagina' is only involved in penetrative sex. Most of what gets women off is in the vulva, which is a handy term that includes the labia majora and minora, the clitoris, and other anatomical structures. The vagina is the canal, past all that good stuff. (I didn't say past all the good stuff.)

I wasn't going to belabor this, but hey, if we're being precise!
(also, Dan pointed this out in this article, so...hmm.)
@49 Nah, it would probably be Post-Vagina Monologues.
Mostly, what raku said.

Dan bases his comments on Elizabeth Nolan Brown's article, which in turn bases its arguments on an article from conservative blog Campus Reform (http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6202); which is unashamedly transphobic (using the term "men who identify as women" for trans women), but nevertheless Dan and Elizabeth seem to take its analysis of the situation as gospel.

In the actual quotes from the students involved in making the decision, they don't say "because it isn't inclusive of trans women" (if they just wanted that, Ensler added a trans monologue in 2004) but because of a whole range of problems; some of which Elizabeth Nolan Brown recognises and agrees with, but nevertheless decides that the students couldn't be intelligent people making the same analysis she has made, but must be bandwagon-jumping bigots.
(It's worth noting that Campus Reform's big pull quote - "[W]e can't present a show that is blatantly transphobic and treats race and homosexuality questionably, when one of the conditions of getting the rights to the show is that you can't critique it or alter it" - is not from the students who cancelled the play, but from an anonymous internet message board. When you are basing your analysis of a situation on something a random person said on a message board, you are probably doing something wrong.)
@ 53, that's your proof of what's "unashamedly transphobic"? Good grief.
@53: I agree with what Matt said. If a male-to-female transsexual is in transition, she may still be legally be a man but self-identify and present as a woman. Hence, the women's college is willing to admit men who identify as women. (Presumably MtFs who were legally women were already allowed in.) If you think that such a term is "unashamedly transphobic", you may need to reduce your daily tumblr intake.
Campus Reform is a pretty crazy conservative site, but the article wasn't written in a way that should be particularly offensive from a transsexuals' rights perspective.