Trans exclusion in ‘The Vagina Monologues’
Last year, Mount Holyoke College announced that it would be canceling its yearly performance of Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues,” stating that the play is exclusionary of trans women.
This criticism is not new; the play received backlash when it was first written that its depiction of “womanhood” was narrow, white, and western, and left little to no room for experiences beyond that scope.
Since its premiere in 1996, the play has been translated into nearly 50 languages and performed in 140 countries. Ensler’s play includes monologues about menstruation, sex, birth, sexual assault, and other topics, and is based on interviews Ensler conducted with over 200 women.
At the time of its debut, “The Vagina Monologues” was heralded by many as subversive, empowering, and groundbreaking with regard to the feminism it espoused, and it has indubitably sparked numerous critical conversations regarding the connection between gender and body since then.
In order to perform the play, stage productions must adhere closely to a set of rules, including which monologues can or cannot be included. There is an optional monologue, based on Ensler’s interviews with trans women, called “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy,” though many individuals feel that this is inadequate.
This week, Simmons College will stage its own performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” with the proceeds benefiting TOD@S, a local interagency collaboration. This is one way in which Ensler’s play serves as a fundraising tool, as it has remained for many years; the Simmons performance donates the proceeds from its ticket sales to a local organization dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic violence, trans rights, and so on.
In spite of the fact that “The Vagina Monologues” has long been heralded in certain feminist circles as revolutionary and radical, there are plenty of people who view it as falling significantly short.
Although the play does provide a voice to many, it leaves many others voiceless.
Practice self-care this Valentine’s Day
You don’t really need a valentine to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Why not take the day and devote it to self-care? You can become your own valentine this year and spend your day—and your money—on yourself.
Buy yourself chocolate, go see a movie, or take a series of wonderful naps in your pajamas. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do anyway. Devote this holiday to it!
Speaking of taking care of yourself, this also includes surrounding yourself with the kind of people who will make you feel good. You shouldn’t feel coerced into doing something you normally wouldn’t do just because someone says, “Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day.”
There will always be ways to show your affection without compromising your comfort or overstepping your personal boundaries. This includes going to your nearby superstore and picking up a huge box of valentines to give out to all the people you care about.
The spread of love shouldn’t be limited to only the people you know. Give the gift of good health this holiday by donating blood to your local hospital. You never know, your donation could possibly save a life this season. Turn Valentine’s Day into a day to make a difference in the life of someone you might not even know.
Remember, even if these ideas don’t appeal to you, all that leftover candy will be on a ridiculous sale for the next week.