For anyone who doesn’t know, The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler. Each monologue deals with an issue relating to the vagina. Topics cover everything from love and masturbation to rape and mutilation. Every year my university puts on a production, and I’ve seen it twice now. Two viewings were enough for me to know that the play makes me feel uncomfortable.
It’s not the open discussion of sex that caused the discomfort, but the generalization of women, the idea that a vagina is what makes a woman, and most of all the reduction of all women to vaginas. Women are more than vaginas; I am more than my vagina. The Vagina Monologues presents the idea that all women have vaginas so all women can associate with anyone else who possesses one. It’s the idea that a vagina is the one thing that connects all women. But what about women who don’t possess a vagina? What about men who have a vagina? In the world of the Vagina Monologues trans people do not exist. If you have a vagina you’re a woman, if not you’re a man, it doesn’t seem to matter how one chooses to define their gender. It is not life experiences or emotions that make a woman; it’s just anatomy.
The Vagina Monologues also present gay and straight sex in different lights. Monologues regarding sex between two women are positive depictions of satisfying consensual sex. While straight sex is depicted as non-consensual, unsatisfying, or oppressive. The idea that sex between a man and a woman can be pleasurable and consensual is simply ignored.
Yes, the vagina is a body part possessed by most women, and it is a body part with a lot of connotation surrounding it, but that doesn’t mean that women should be reduced to it. The Vagina Monologues come off as internalized misogyny, women reducing themselves to their sex organs. How different is this to advertisements that reduce women to certain body parts, just a pair of breasts, a thigh, a nice ass. Isn’t it worse that women are willingly reducing themselves to their sex organs?
The women I know are more than vaginas. They are the sum of all their parts, their brains, their breasts, their muscles, their hearts, their emotions, their education, their life experiences, and yes their vaginas too. It’s unfair to reduce over 50% of the world’s population to a body part. It’s unfair that we are reducing ourselves to a sex organ. Women are more than sex. I am more than my vagina.