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The Vagina Monologues Paperback – December 26, 2007
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First of all, I was amused by the title. What would a vagina have to say? As a man, I could understand some female sensitivities, since men are a minority in my family. The Brazilian edition of the book has a microphone placed in front of a female pubis, and that surely looked funny to me.
I showed it to my wife, but she didn't have much of a positive reaction due to her conservative upbringing(she tries, though), but when I read her one of the stories she was amused
A few weeks later "The Vagina Monologues"was all the rage here. The Brazilian version of the play(directed and adapted by actor/director Miguel Falabella) opened in Rio de Janeiro, and suddenly everyone was talking about it. Even Eve Ensler, the author of the play, gave an interview to a local newsmagazine directed to the female public. One could not turn on the TV or open a newspaper without stumbling into a Vagina Monologues comment.
I havent (as of this writing) yet seen the play, but I found reading the book very enjoyable. It is a collection of very short stories related to various vagina-related subjects, such as the discovery of pleasure, childbirth, and even rape. There are also a few facts of the vagina world.
Personally, there are two favorite stories, in my opinion. The first is a married woman who dislikes having her pubic hairs shaved - she feels like a child when it is done to her, and the story on rape; the metaphorical description is so clear that brings tears to one's eyes.
As any other collection, there are also a bad moments - the introductiuon is sometimes annoying, for it reads like an outdated sixties feminist chant - but, all in all, the play, as a reading piece, is utterly enjoyable.
Bottom line: A good piece for both women and men, regardless of sexual option
The variety of monologues in the book is incredible; Eve Ensler has created several personas that all tell you about their vaginas and their associated experiences. The monologues are well ordered -- the moods change from one to the other, with little overlap -- and you'll likely laugh, cry, squirm, cry, then laugh again.
Buy it, read it, share it.
The first problem that I had with this book is that it simply doesn't work well as a book. I didn't laugh. I didn't cry. I didn't anything. The monologues are written as performance pieces and simply don't stand up without the performance. It isn't their fault, just the nature of the thing. As a sidenote; I was able to see the monologues sometime late, which really brought home the point to me - it needs women to make it come alive.
The second problem that I had with The Vagina Monologues was that I felt it missed the mark. As with so much feminist literature it mixes up freeing women/relieving oppression with a sort of 'no holds barred' abandonment of any type of morality. As a result, I have very mixed feelings about the monologues. I feel some are very important and need to be heard by more people (such as the monologue which illustrates why rape as a tactic of systematic warfare is a very bad idea). That monologue (for me) speaks to the idea of acknowledging women's suffering and seeking to do something to stop it. On the other hand, I felt that some of the monologues were in very bad taste that borders on criminal. I'm thinking specifically of a monologue which details how a grown woman makes love (I call it molests) a thirteen year old girl. I'm sorry if I seem too conservative for the times, but I don't see how it is liberating to women to be commiting pedophelia upon them.
Which brings me to another point about The Vagina Monologues. The author's message of freeing women from the bonds of oppression gets all mixed up with a 'lesbians are good' message. Regardless of whether lesbians are or are not good, I feel that this muddies the waters in this book considerably. After all, if the thirteen year old girl that I mentioned in the last paragraph had been involved with a grown man, we'd all be howling from the rooftops.
In summary, I feel that The Vagina Monologues have lots of potential but suffer from a clear definition of mission. The book plays fairly badly as well. Read the Vagina Monologues if you wish, better yet, attend a performance. Be prepared, however, to hold yourself back from being swept into the popular tide of thought so that you may think and judge critically, for yourself, what you find.
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I first saw these monologues performed in London, sometime in the late ‘90’s.Read more