The following appeared in the Post-Crescent on February 25, 2009:
GREAT SHOW: I just wanted to congratulate those involved in the production of “The Vagina Monologues” at UW-Fox Valley on such an amazing performance. The cast and crew should be proud of themselves that the final show of that theater left the whole audience laughing, crying and applauding full force. We look forward to the great things to be accomplished at Fox’s new Communication Arts Center, and I know you will not let us down. Bravo.
Letter From Don Dake
Don wrote the following letter, which was published March 1, 2002. It was forwarded to me by Robert Nordlander:
Certainly the Founding Mothers of feminism who met at Seneca Falls in New York on the 19th and 20th of July 1848 would have been appalled at the spectacle that occurred at the Lawrence University Chapel on Tuesday evening, Feb. 19.
Can one imagine Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott joining in the frenzied chant, “CUNT! CUNT! CUNT! CUNT!” with which the participants in the “Vagina Monologues” got many in the audience to pronounce with the gusto of Nazis heiling Adolf Hitler in The Third Reich?
Nor can one imagine Susan B. Anthony applauding the lesbian rape of a sixteen-year-old girl by a 24-year-old woman. (In the original production the age of the victim, whose rape was glorified and sanctified by Eve Ensler, author of the “Vagina Monologues,” was thirteen.)
The righteous cause for which this literary garbage was written is the crusade to end violence against women. Nevertheless, one has to ask what does announcing the fact that the clitoris has 8,000 nerve-endings as opposed to the penis having only 4,000 nerve endings have to do with ending violence against women?
While some of the issues of Seneca Falls remain today to be addressed, many of them have been resolved in a humane and equitable manner. Women have the vote, divorce is an option, and women’s property rights are secure.
The remaining issues such as pay equity in comparable lines of work with men and the elimination of violence against women will not occur by hysterically shouting “CUNT! CUNT! CUNT! CUNT!” and by the glorification of lesbian rape at theatrical productions of the “Vagina Monologues” or its imitators to come.
From Seneca Falls to the “Vagina Monologues”?! How sad to see a great movement of liberation fall into the hands of idiotic ideologues and crazies.
Response to Don Dake, February 25, 2009
Just so we’re clear, I was referring to the performance itself, not necessarily the subject matter.
However, I think Don’s a bit off the mark.
Comparing the “C-Word” scene to a Nazi rally is a bit much, and the audience was not nearly as involved in the presentation I saw. Regardless, the point here was to dull a word used to hurt women… certainly, taking the sting out of hateful words is good for women and feminism, no?
The “rape” scene Don refers to isn’t as appalling in its wider context of a girl who was brought up to hate her own body. He raises a valid point about the age issue, of course, but I don’t think the show was saying this was a good or bad thing. The stories presented are, for the most part, true stories. What Ensler’s motive, if any, was I can’t say, but there’s nothing “feminist” or “anti-feminist” about telling true stories — we are welcome to judge them as we see fit. If the audience had been outraged, that (to me) would have been a perfectly acceptable response.
Lastly, Don clearly leaves out other sections that have a pro-women, pro-feminist slant. The elderly Jewish woman’s story of her fear of her own body is a stand against women’s second-class nature in society, and the POWERFUL story of the Third World woman brutalized by soldiers reminds us that women’s bodies, emotions and mental stability are all-too-often still the “collateral damage” of war. There was no way to mistake this scene as being in any way favor of rape.
Did I personally agree with all the segments in the presentation? No. But I don’t think that was the point. We were told many women’s stories, and were free to take them in as we wished through our own filters.
And as far as the presentation of those various ideas went, the cast and crew did wonderfully.