The Vagina Monologues, a celebration of female empowerment and sexuality, was an attempted balance between shock value and truth. While the shock value of yesterday’s performances initially drew the audience in, more often than not, it became distracting and took the focus away from more meaningful commentary. Through 22 monologues and ensembles. The word “vagina,” often labeled as taboo or dirty, was used constantly and quickly desensitized viewers.
Taboo subjects such as pubic hair were explored in the first monologue, “Hair.” In this monologue, the subject of a woman’s control over her body was explored through the story of her husband making her shave her pubic hair. And though she suffers though this discomfort to please her husband, he remains unfaithful to the end.
This was one of many monologues where men are portrayed in a very negative light. This definite bias was illustrated through other scenes such as “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy” and “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could,” which portray male lovers as inflictors of pain upon women or repressors of natural instinct, in contrast with female lovers, who represent sexual fulfillment and sensuality.
For the most part, the prevalence of the anti-male rhetoric diminished the credibility of the monologues. Although there was one skit presenting a man in a favorable light, the production as a whole came off with a definite bias toward lesbian love and against relationships between men and women.
But still there were many redeeming features of this production. In “My Angry Vagina,” Morgan Willis did an amazing job of commanding the stage and bringing to light issues that resonated with her audience. In the scene, she rightfully asked why products related with the vagina such as tampons cannot be lubricated and work in sync with women’s bodies instead of against them. Denouncing sterile and uncomfortable gynecology appointments involving paper aprons and cold stirrups, she demanded fuzzy stirrups and a comfortable robe, through it all she fought for her vagina’s right to be comfortable and respected.
There are times, however, when the production simply went too far in its attempts to shock. There was a constant stream of violence that is expressed from he perspective of women. Graphic images of rape and violence are illustrated in “My Vagina Was a Village” with the monologue, descriptive and disturbing images of rape hurled at the audience by a girl who graphically recounted how soldiers raped her, cutting off a whole lip of her vagina.
Although informative and occasionally insightful, the repeated images of sexual violence became overwhelming and extraneous. “Monologues” is certainly not subtle, but its content is legitimate and important in a world where this sort of violence and oppression still runs rampant.