This Sunday, the much-anticipated production of “The Vagina Monologues” returns to the Power Center stage. Thirty of the University’s finest “Vagina Warriors” will perform Eve Ensler’s acclaimed pieces that range in topic from the mystery of the female orgasm to reclaiming the taboo word “cunt.” The monologues also delve into tougher, more upsetting issues facing women — such as the reality of widespread rape, genital mutilation and oppression. The cast is a diverse group of motivated students committed to achieving Ensler’s mission: ending violence against women.

The show is just one part of the larger national Vagina Day campaign started from Ensler’s monologues. During the month of February, the show will be preformed at over 700 college campuses and promises to raise between $4 and $5 million for women’s organizations around the globe. Last year, the University alone raised roughly $20,000 in ticket sales and donations. This is clearly not your average show; it is a movement that has benefited over 1,000 organizations worldwide since its start in 1998.

However, the show has received a substantial amount of criticism. In the face of all the money raised and a clear message of female empowerment, people have still found a reason to protest. A member of the University’s own faculty, Women Studies and English Prof. Melanie Boyd, gave a lecture just last Monday on the detrimental effects of the monologues, calling them “politically worrisome.”

One of the most common objections to the monologues is that they are blatantly anti-male. It is argued that the show makes men the enemy — the abuser women must continually fight against. On the contrary, I believe the show to be deliberately pro-female, a celebration of female sexuality and a condemnation of sexual violence. According the U.S. Department of Justice, one in four American women is sexually abused between the ages of 14 and 25, and 99 percent of the perpetrators are male. Despite that glaring reality, Ensler does an admirable job of creating a balance between the stories of sexual abuse and the stories sexual discovery and liberation. No more than six of the 13 monologues in the show can be construed as anti-male.

Another similar complaint is that the monologues focus so heavily on violence and brutality that the message of female empowerment is lost. Yet this argument misses the point — the show’s central purpose is to end violence against women. The show would not have been able to galvanize thousands of women if it were purely demoralizing and hateful. It is the feminist idealism radiating from the monologues and the pledge to end violence that has moved people to get involved across the country.

One criticism I can sympathize with, and was also voiced by members of this year’s cast is that the monologues are not representative of all women. There is no transgender monologue this year, there is no virgin monologue, and even the monologues that are included sometimes paint a skewed representation of reality. The piece that has garnered the most controversy this year is entitled, “Under the Burqa,” a monologue written about women in the Middle East who are forced to wear a veil over their face. It was pointed out that many Middle Eastern women actually find the traditional dress dignifying and wear it with pride due to its significance in the culture. Ensler takes a more Westernized approach to this monologue, representing only those women who feel stifled by the custom.

While this objection is valid, it must be understood that “The Vagina Monologues” simply cannot be all things to all people. Ensler has created an immensely successful production and has covered a lot of ground along the way. There are monologues devoted to older women, younger women, married women, lesbian women, women of different race and ethnicity, but inevitably, certain people will be both underrepresented.

In addition to raising an enormous amount of money for women’s organizations, the V-Day campaign has re-ignited the feminist movement. It has touched the lives of so many people across the country — actors and audience members, men and women, old and young alike. It may be uncomfortable, particularly if you are male sex, to purchase a ticket to “The Vagina Monologues.” The show is not politically correct, and it is not mild. However, it is extremely important to recognize this show is not about the shock value of the word vagina. Rather, it is a fearless and unabashed attempt to end sexual abuse and celebrate female sexuality.

My suggestion is to go see the show. That way, you will have challenged yourself to sit through one of the most avant-garde performances of our generation, while at the same time donating your money to an unquestionably good cause. You might even laugh, cry and chant “cunt” by the end of the performance.


Dibo is a LSA and School of Music sophomore and a member of the Daily’s editorial board. She is also a cast member of this year’s production of The Vagina Monologues.

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