*Warning: This review contains a lot of references to “vagina”. Don’t be scared. It’s a medical term for crying out loud.
I had heard about the “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler, but honestly I never thought I would actually read them or go see the play. I had a vague idea what it was about and I could take it or leave it. So I was seriously surprised when one of my book clubs chose this for February. They have a general rule of not picking thinks that are estrogen fueled. Yet, they seemed to think it would make for a good conversation. I was curious enough so I shrugged and went for it.
All I can say is WOW! I definitely see why this book, or play as it really is, needs to be read. Because even though it was written in the 90s, it’s message still applies today. I am guilty of feeling all the ways Ensler accuses society of feeling when they hear the word “vagina”, and boy does she say it a lot.
“I say it because I believe that what we don’t say we don’t see, acknowledge, or remember. What we don’t say becomes a secret, and secrets often create shame and fear and myths. I say it because I want to some day feel comfortable saying it, and not ashamed and guilty.”
What she says is so true because even reading this book in the year 2020, I couldn’t help feel a bit uncomfortable reading it. I could only think of my own family where anything that has to do with the female body is supposed to be a secret. Forget “vagina”, my father thought it blasphemous to even say the word “period” in front of him. When I did finally get it, my mom told him “your daughter became a woman” and when I had cramps I had to refer to it as having “women’s issues”. I had to wait for the men to leave the room just so I could talk about it with my mom. So imagine, getting into a long-term relationship with a man, where inevitably the topic is going to be brought up. I was embarrassed at first to even mention it, but thankfully he was understanding, and knowing that it didn’t bother him was reassuring to me.
Each monologue delves into a different issue that has to do with that all knowing body part. Ensler forces you to get downright personal with it. Some of the interviews are outright hilarious. I particularly like the answers to the questions, “If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?” and “If your vagina could talk, what would it say in two words?”
We have come a long ways since this play was first written. We are more accepting to women’s issues but there is still more that we need to do, which is why this play will continue to be important. It also brings to light some of the more serious consequences of having something like a female body part become taboo. By not acknowledging that woman have vaginas and what that body part does or doesn’t do, you are also not acknowledging the things that shouldn’t be happening, such as sexual violence. It’s an issue the continues to plague women across the world.
“And as more women say the word, saying it becomes less of a big deal; it becomes part of our language, part of our lives. Our vaginas become integrated and respected and sacred. … And the shame leaves and the violation stops…”
Did this review make you feel uncomfortable? All the more reason why you should probably read it. This will be really interesting to talk about in our book club discussion, especially with the guys. I wonder how many will actually read the book.