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Michael Daniel

Fine Arts Critique #2, The Vagina Monologues


February 24, 2007

On February 24, The Vagina Monologues was performed at Pratt Hall. The play

is a celebration of sexual pride in women. It is performed on what is called ‘V Day’,

which I assume stands for ‘Vagina Day’. The premise is that they interviewed many

women about their vaginas and turned the interviews into this play. Every interview

included the questions, “If your vagina could speak, what would it say?” and “What

would your vagina wear if it could wear clothes?” They interviewed old women, young

women and women from conflict zones.

An Afghani woman described gang rapes in a segment titled, “Under the Burqa,”

and a refugee woman described sexual assault as is perpetrated during war atrocities in

another segment titled, “My Vagina Was My Village.” Every year there is a spotlight

monologue which focuses on one specific feminist topic. This year the spotlight

monologue was “Women in Conflict Zones.” I do believe that war atrocities such as the

ones described by the Afghani women and the refugee are wrong and we do need to stop

them, however, the “Women in Conflict Zones” segment exposed some false underlying

assumptions, which I will describe in detail here.

The biggest problem with “Women in Conflict Zones” was that they said that it

was common for soldiers to beat their wives. I was offended by that statement. I come

from a military family and I can tell you that neither I nor any of my friends from military

families have had to worry about domestic violence. It is a myth that soldiers beat their

wives and plays such as this one only perpetuate the myth. Certainly, there are individual

cases of domestic violence in military families, but that amounts to anecdotal evidence. I
have never seen any statistic that supports the theory that soldiers batter more than

civilians. Soldiers who beat their wives are court marshaled and kicked out of the

military. Many men who beat women will claim that war made them do it, but men who

beat women are weak minded and so will use any excuse if it helps them to feel like

decent human beings.

Another problem with the spotlight monologue was that it said that rebuilding

after war is “woman’s work.” They defined “woman’s work” as work that is dirty and

thankless. I disagree with the entire concept of “woman’s work.” Women are just as

capable of doing any job as men are. Also, the most common dirty, thankless job that I

can think of is construction work, which is mainly done by men. That is not to say that

women can’t and don’t work construction. The point is that the vagina monologue’s

definition of women’s work does not hold when construction work is considered, because

most people who work construction jobs are not women. They also minimized the role of

men in the process of rebuilding a country, which is just as sexist as minimizing the role

of women in such an endeavor.

Most of the play was amusing. I particularly enjoyed, “The Woman Who Loved

To Make Vaginas Happy.” It was told from the perspective of a lesbian sex worker who

liked to make women moan. Her impersonations of women moaning were a wonderfully

comedic over-the-top performance.

Overall the play was enjoyable, however, the spotlight monologue detracted from

the play. It is good to be proud of who you are and where you come from, but I think that

“Women In Conflict Zones” crossed the fine line between sexual pride and sexism.