Thursday, February 24, 2011


So apparently the Vagina Monologues are super controversial.

I suppose I knew this somewhere in the back of my mind, but at our last rehearsal we heard from the director that the college campus where we are performing has been receiving a lot of hate mail regarding their choice to perform the piece.

This sort of stuff blows my mind.

I guess it really shouldn't, but when it comes to art, for me, if you don't want it to happen in your hometown, just don't go.  It's much more effective than sending hate mail or picketing or something.  It's art.  Artists want their stuff to be seen.  Performing to an empty house is really disconcerting for an actor.  If you don't like what they're going to perform, don't attend.  But please, do your homework first.

It's my assumption (perhaps, I admit, a poor one) that the people who are sending this hate mail see the title:  The Vagina Monologues and assume the worst - I suppose perhaps some people think we're performing some sort of pornographic nineteen seventies fringe feminist protest against society.  I've seen some of that art work, and believe me, you can say it's not porn all you want, it's porn.  But this piece is not porn.

This piece is a gathering of stories from two hundred women who were asked to talk about their vaginas.  Yes, it's a body part we cover.  Yes, it's a "private part".  But what came out of the interviews were amazing, touching, funny, heart-wrenching stories about womanhood in all parts of the world, from all ages and all walks of society.  The very rich, the very poor.  The matron, the sex worker, the entrepreneur, the six year old, the homeless woman.  The Vagina Monologues are performed as a protest against violence against women.  It's a way of telling stories that would have been voiceless otherwise.  A way to raise awareness, and to have a few laughs at the same time.

Is it appropriate for children?  Not on your life.

It's rated R, if I had to rate it.  There is straight talk about rape, abuse, sexuality, sex, men, women, pain, and self-discovery.  There is cussing.  If hearing about those things is going to be upsetting to you, you should probably not attend a performance.

The first time I saw the V-Monologues I felt uncomfortable more than once.  I don't think you're supposed to feel all that comfortable.

I worry about the hate mail thing.  I wonder what is going to happen on the night.  Most likely, the person who sent them mail won't show up to protest.  I'm certain they won't come to see the show.  Maybe there will be picketing.  Maybe shouting or more hate mail or a letter to the editor.

I wonder what people are afraid of.

I'm sad because, while I may feel uncomfortable about some of the pieces, or while I may not be able, myself to talk about some of these topics candidly, I know that they are important topics.  I wish that the people sending these hateful letters would buy themselves a copy of the script and read the piece that is upsetting them so much.

But I suppose it isn't really art until somebody says it's not, or that it's bad, or that they hate it.  It's the controversy that makes it great, much of the time.

I find it odd that we didn't receive any hate mail about Butterfly at the community theatre but there is this upheaval about something happening on the college campus.  College campuses are traditionally places where art is born and embraced and fed - places where students are asked to stretch themselves farther and think about things they hadn't thought about before.

What's going on here, exactly?

Why aren't these same people sending letters to the local strip club or speaking out against violence in a way they deem more appropriate?  Why not ask to engage in a dialogue with the director about why she might see this piece as okay, and show up with an open mind.  Why not write your own piece in response and see if you can get it published?  Why not write to Eve Ensler and ask her what possessed her to write this piece, and be prepared for her response?  Why not peruse the V-Day page and see what the buzz is all about - perhaps think of a better way to address the issues in Haiti and the Congo that women are facing today?

There's got to be something better to do with your time than to send threatening or hateful messages to a tiny little college that has chosen to perform a particular work of art that has obtained some recognition in the theatre and feminist community.

Have you seen The Vagina Monologues performed or read the piece from a script?  What's your take on hate mail?  What do you think the college's response should be (the have upped security on campus and there will be a guard at the auditorium door this year - last year, one of the campuses canceled their performance as a result of the mail)?  What do you think of The Vagina Monologues?


Summer said...

The hate mail is completely ridiculous. Yes, there is vulgar language and talk about the vagina. OOOH! I said it. VAGINA! But ya know what- what other way to experience a meer speck of someones life after rape. You wont get there- but you will get the emotion from the piece. What happens when someone was mutilated, have you had to deal with that? No? Well, then get a piece of that emotion. Yes, it is R rated. But what do we see on the television these days? what happens when someone says SHIT cause they gained a pound on the biggest loser- are you going to quit your diet because they said shit? SHIT SHIT SHIT! That is what you see, in your everyday world. However, you can think of things in blessings too.

Theatre is a way to release emotions of those who go silent. So instead of this hate mail- why not try and understand that maybe just maybe someone may be helped by this. This could and might be a blessing to someone else. Someone who had no outlet before- but will be able to stand on their 2 feet and fight for what is right. I am not down with the C word that is used in the VM, but that doesnt mean I am going to boycott the whole of the performance. Because that is not the WHOLE of it. Plug your ears and go to la la land and ignore it. Trust me. It is easy. I however am going to support those who might become empowered after being raped. I am going to support those who will not be quiet about being mutilated because of some barbaric practices that somewhere came into play with a religion. I am not going to just say "well, shh lets not talk about that".

Sure, there are other ways something can be said. But everyone also hears things different. One thing speaks to one person where the other one just hears noise. That is why God has blessed us with something as fascinating as a brain! Use yours and dont boycott something that could bring a blessing to someone else.

(just fyi- I am really speaking to the person boycotting not dear dear juliet! *smile*)

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