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The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues

4.1 42
by Eve Ensler

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A poignant and hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. Hailed as the bible for a new generation of women, it has been performed in cities all across America and at hundreds of college campuses, and has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement -- V-Day


A poignant and hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. Hailed as the bible for a new generation of women, it has been performed in cities all across America and at hundreds of college campuses, and has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement -- V-Day -- to stop violence against women. Witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise, Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning masterpiece gives voice to real women's deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one who reads it will ever look at a woman's body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again.

Editorial Reviews

NY Times
If Ms. Ensler is the messiah heralding the second wave of feminism, and a lot of people think she is, it is partly because she's a brilliant comedian...The audience...was overwhelmingly adoring.
NY Newsday
The most exhilarating part is, no kidding, her extremely virtuosic way with a series of orgasmic moans...Ensler, a writer-performer with a good-natured but seriously evangelical mission about this body part, must be enjoying her success in getting the word out on such a legendarily unmentionable, mythologized and misunderstood fact of life...
Ensler breaks taboos by talking, talking and talking some more—stripping fear and shame from what she celebrates here. It makes for quite a party. Funny, outrageous, emotionally affecting, and occasionally angry...THE VAGINA MONOLGOUES confront words to demystify and disarm them. In so doing, Ensler disarms the audience too.
Sara Kelly

For some of us, a little vagina goes a long way. Most of us, however, are not Eve Ensler, the woman behind The Vagina Monologues. For Ensler, not even the limits of the human constitution can keep a determined vagina down. And that, in essence, is the point of this literary adaptation of her Obie-winning one-woman show. Assembled in seemingly random fashion from interviews with "a diverse group of over two hundred women about their vaginas," the monologues, their author contends, are for our own good. The intent is purely missionary -- to reclaim the much-maligned "vagina" for women the same way the gay community has reclaimed the term "queer."

It is with great pride and purpose that Ensler invokes the "V" word. Like a precocious child, she repeats those telltale three syllables guaranteed to get a rise out of the grown-ups. "I say 'vagina,'" she explains, "because I want people to respond." And they respond, she says, because they know they shouldn't. Since learning the word's liberating power for herself as an adult, Ensler has hardly tired of its cryptic joys. "I say it in my sleep," she boasts. "I say it because I'm not supposed to say it. I say it because it's an invisible word -- a word that stirs up anxiety, awkwardness, contempt and disgust."

The Vagina Monologues is comprised of roughly 15 thematically linked pieces (the number varies depending on whether you count the "vagina facts," dedications, explanations and musings that punctuate the interviews). A foreword by Gloria Steinem attempts to connect the vagina with the core beliefs of world religions (i.e., Tantra's central tenet is man's inability to reach spiritual fulfillment except through sexual and emotional union with woman's superior sexual energy). Doubtless, Monologues suffers in translation from performance piece to text. But to help ease the transition, Ensler has appended a few paragraphs of context to most selections.

Two, "Jewish Queens accent" and "English accent," are introduced with a semblance of stage directions. Others launch directly into diary entries or unbroken lists of interviewees' responses to Ensler's questions. "If your vagina could talk, what would it say?" asks the author. "If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?" "What does a vagina smell like?" The responses range from pithy to banal. "Yum, yum," "Oh, yeah" and "Is that you?" say interviewees who mentally dress their "sexy"- and "wet garbage"-smelling vaginas in everything from "a pinafore" to "a slicker."

The Vagina Monologues is by turns confessional and voyeuristic. It's hard to know, for instance, just how to respond to the tragic tale of a Bosnian rape camp survivor ("... they took turns for seven days ... smelling like feces and smoked meat, they left their dirty sperm inside me ...") when juxtaposed with a vignette about a woman who experienced her first orgasm in a hands-on tutorial called "The Vagina Workshop" ("I felt connection, calling connection as I lay there thrashing about on my little blue mat ..."). Ensler is, at the very least, egalitarian in achieving her mission. She treats such subjects as lesbian sex, birth, rape and child abuse with equal candor and respect. Whether her evenhanded treatment of such conflicting subjects shortchanges both is a matter best left to sex researchers and therapists. -- Salon

Library Journal
Having been performed in 20 cities and on 200 campuses, the Obie Award-winning Vagina Monologues is here updated with testimonials and three new monoogs. Necessary Targets, which concerns violence against women during the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has already played with all-star casts on Broadway and in Sarajevo. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Women have entrusted Eve with their most intimate experiences, from sex to birthing. . . . I think readers, men as well as women, will emerge from these pages feeling more free within themselves—and about each other." —Gloria Steinem

"Eve Ensler is the Pied Piper. She is leading women and the world to a different consciousness of the essence of women." —Gillian Anderson

"I feel my life has changed. You don't just hook up with Eve, you become part of her crusade. There's a corps of us who are Eve's army." —Glenn Close

"The monologues are part of Eve Ensler's crusade to wipe out the shame and embarrassment that many women still associate with their bodies or their sexuality. . . . They are both a celebration of women's sexuality and a condemnation of its violation."
—The New York Times

"Spellbinding, funny, and almost unbearably moving. . . . Written with a bluntness that is nevertheless intensely lyrical, it is both a work of art and an incisive piece of cultural history, a poem and a polemic, a performance and a balm and a benediction." —Variety

"Frank, humorous and moving . . . a compelling rhapsody of the female essence. Ultimately, Ensler achieves something extraordinary." —Chicago Tribune

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I bet you're worried. I was worried. That's why I began this piece. I was worried about vaginas. I was worried about what we think about vaginas, and even more worried that we don't think about them. I was worried about my own vagina. It needed a context of other vaginas-a community, a culture of
vaginas. There's so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them-like the Bermuda Triangle. Nobody ever reports back from there.

In the first place, it's not so easy even to find your vagina. Women go weeks, months, sometimes years without looking at it. I interviewed a high-powered businesswoman who told me she was too busy; she didn't have the time. Looking at your vagina, she said, is a full day's work. You have to get down there on your back in front of a mirror that's standing on its own, full-length preferred. You've got to get in the perfect position, with the perfect light, which then is shadowed somehow by the mirror and the angle you're at. You get all twisted up. You're arching your head up, killing your back. You're exhausted by then. She said she didn't have the time for that. She was busy.

So I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues. I talked with over two hundred women. I talked to older women, young women, married women, single women, lesbians, college professors, actors, corporate professionals, sex workers, African American women, Hispanic women, Asian American women, Native American
women, Caucasian women, Jewish women. At first women were reluctant to talk. They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Women secretly love to talk about theirvaginas. They get very excited, mainly because no one's ever asked them before.

Let's just start with the word "vagina." It sounds like an infection at best, maybe a medical instrument: "Hurry, Nurse, bring me the vagina." "Vagina." "Vagina." Doesn't matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say. It's a totally ridiculous, completely
unsexy word. If you use it during sex, trying to be politically correct-"Darling, could you stroke my vagina?"-you kill the act right there.

I'm worried about vaginas, what we call them and don't call them.

In Great Neck, they call it a pussycat. A woman there told me that her mother used to tell her, "Don't wear panties underneath your pajamas, dear; you need to air out your pussycat." In Westchester they called it a pooki, in New Jersey a twat. There's "powderbox," "derrière," a "poochi," a
"poopi," a "peepe," a "poopelu," a "poonani," a "pal" and a "piche," "toadie," "dee dee," "nishi," "dignity," "monkey box," "coochi snorcher," "cooter," "labbe," "Gladys Siegelman," "VA," "wee wee," "horsespot," "nappy dugout," "mongo," a "pajama," "fannyboo," "mushmellow," a "ghoulie,"
"possible," "tamale," "tottita," "Connie," a "Mimi" in Miami, "split knish" in Philadelphia, and "schmende" in the Bronx. I am worried about vaginas.

Some of the monologues are close to verbatim interviews, some are composite interviews, and with some I just began with the seed of an interview and had a good time. This monologue is pretty much the way I heard it. Its subject, however, came up in every interview, and often it was fraught. The subject being


You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair. Many people do not love hair. My first and only husband hated hair. He said it was cluttered and dirty. He made me shave my vagina. It looked puffy and exposed and like a little girl. This excited him. When he made love to me, my vagina felt the way a beard must feel. It felt good to rub it, and painful. Like scratching a mosquito bite. It felt like it was on fire. There were screaming red bumps. I refused to shave it again. Then my husband had an affair. When we went to marital therapy, he said he screwed around because I wouldn't
please him sexually. I wouldn't shave my vagina. The therapist had a thick German accent and gasped between sentences to show her empathy. She asked me why I didn't want to please my husband. I told her I thought it was weird. I felt little when my hair was gone down there, and I couldn't help talking in a baby voice, and the skin got irritated and even calamine lotion wouldn't help it. She told me marriage was a compromise. I asked her if shaving my vagina would stop him from screwing around. I asked her if she'd had many cases like this before. She said that questions diluted the process. I needed to jump in. She was sure it was a good beginning.

This time, when we got home, he got to shave my vagina. It was like a therapy bonus prize. He clipped it a few times, and there was a little blood in the bathtub. He didn't even notice it, 'cause he was so happy shaving me. Then, later, when my husband was pressing against me, I could feel his spiky sharpness sticking into me, my naked puffy vagina. There was no protection. There was no fluff.

I realized then that hair is there for a reason-it's the leaf around the flower, the lawn around the house. You have to love hair in order to love the vagina. You can't pick the parts you want. And besides, my husband never stopped screwing around.

I asked all the women I interviewed the same questions and then I picked my favorite answers. Although I must tell you, I've never heard an answer I didn't love. I asked women:

"If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?"

A beret.

A leather jacket.

Silk stockings.


A pink boa.

A male tuxedo.


Something formfitting.


An evening gown.


Armani only.

A tutu.

See-through black underwear.

A taffeta ball gown.

Something machine washable.

Costume eye mask.

Purple velvet pajamas.


A red bow.

Ermine and pearls.

A large hat full of flowers.

A leopard hat.

A silk kimono.


A tattoo.

An electrical shock device to keep unwanted strangers away.

High heels.

Lace and combat boots.

Purple feathers and twigs and shells.


A pinafore.

A bikini.

A slicker.

From the Audio CD (Unabridged) edition.

Meet the Author

EVE ENSLER is an award-winning playwright, poet, activist, and screenwriter whose many works for the stage include The Depot, Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man, Extraordinary Measures, Lemonade, Ladies, and, most recently, Necessary Targets, which was performed on Broadway to benefit Bos-nian women refugees. She has presented her off-Broadway hit The Vagina Monologues (winner of the 1997 Obie Award) at theaters and universities around the United States, as well as in Jerusalem, London, and Zagreb. She is currently writing a screenplay on women in prison for Glenn Close at Miramax and a new play for the Music Theater Group. An in-structor in the graduate Dramatic Writing Pro-gram at New York University, she lives in New York City with her partner, Ariel Orr Jordan.

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Vagina Monologues 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the bluntness with which this book is written. The author makes no attempt to hide the beautiful material discussed within. Such a great step forward in ending FGM and stopping violence for all women.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It wouldnt let me open the stupid thing
SS17 More than 1 year ago
Great Book. All the women should read this book and learn to respect their gender.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Eve Ensler¿s The Vagina Monologues is an interesting read. It delves into a relatively secret matter that is not discussed openly. It is written and organized well enough to make it a quick and captivating read. Once you pick up the book, you will not be able to put it down. Yes, that applies to guys as well because even though we are not willing to admit it, we have a natural curiosity for the ¿down there.¿ This book gives a small but very powerful glimpse into what the world of vaginas holds. In order to do this, Ensler has to illustrate what a vagina is like using only words. She gives first-hand accounts of questions that she asked people on the streets, short stories that are more second-hand diary accounts, and finally vagina facts. While she seems to capture the true nature and thoughts about vaginas perfectly with some of the accounts, she misses the mark a few times as well. The direct questions, sometimes a little disturbing, add to the book as a whole and show the diversity of women and what they feel they are like. The vagina facts are interesting and well placed throughout the book, I do not know if I would have enjoyed reading the book or not without them. It would definitely have been a little drier and more condensed in terms of its femininity. And finally, we come to the second-hand accounts. These accounts were very eye opening and hold nothing back when it comes to women and how they feel or act. And when I say nothing, I mean NOTHING. This is not necessarily a good thing, however, because sometimes Ensler came off more as a pro-lesbian rather than just a strong feminist. Some of the entries are far more important than others and the book could have portrayed Ensler¿s message without a few of them. For instance, the entry about rape being used as a tool of warfare is extremely relevant in our world and should be given more thought. On the other side there is the monologue where the little girl and the grown woman make love. Now, the whole book is thought provoking, but that passage was a little more than that it was disturbing. I do not think that the overall message of the book would have been lost if that one had been left out. The Vagina Monologues should be recommended to all who are willing to embrace it with an open mind. It is definitely not for everyone and should not be approached as such. But if you are looking for a good feminist book that gives interesting insight on what women think about their vaginas then look no further!
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿If your Vagina got dressed what would it wear?¿ A beret. A leather Jacket. Silk Stockings. A Pink Boa. A Male Tuxedo. Jeans¿. 'Ensler, 2001, p.15' This short excerpt from the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler is just one of the many passages demonstrating the controversial material in the book. Many of the monologues in the book contain material which one would not normally expect to read or talk about every day. It is a shocking book. For the subject of a woman¿s vagina is not commonly talked about and is rarely brought up in conversation. However, should it be? The book is drawing attention to the idea that women need to be aware of their vaginas, really get to know them, and understand them. This may seem odd however, Eve really does a great job throughout the monologues to explain how valuable the vagina is to the woman. The Vagina Monologues, usually performed as a play, is truly shocking and attention getting in book form as well as when presented in the play style. It takes one through different stories of woman¿s vaginas and what they think about them. It includes monologues of what women think their vaginas will wear, smell like, or say. It interviews many different women ranging from females who have been abused, assaulted, and ones who have normal sex lives. Eve Ensler, the author, is lesbian and she talks about how she came to that realization and grew into the person she is today. She tells of her mission and goal which she is trying to achieve through these monologues. Eve shows women that they need to be aware of themselves through their vaginas and truly find themselves in this way. Through Eve Ensler¿s activism and drive from the book she has instigated V-day. V-day is a college initiative which encourages college women around the nation to fight violence against woman and girls. This Global initiative creates awareness about the woman who have suffered from rape, incest, genital mutilation, and any other sexual assault against them. Through her book and initiative Eve Ensler has drawn awareness from the populace. I would highly recommend this book although controversial and shocking at times, it is truly moving. It makes females and males think about what needs to be changed in how women need to be viewed and treated in our world today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this one, another one I'd been wanting to read for awhile, so I was quite pleased to find it at the thrift store, (I found Sedaris' there too) I loved this, I really did, some parts made me laugh, others made me want to cry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Words and thoughts once taboo are now mainstream due in large part to 'The Vagina Monologues,' a funny, moving exploration of women's thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears by the dynamic Eve Ensler. Released to coincide with February's V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, the audio version brings Ensler's words to wise and witty life once more. Of course, no one is better suited to read these words than the author herself. Winner of the Obie Award for this play, Ensler is also the author of other plays including Lemonade, The Depot, and Necessary Targets, which has had benefit performances on Broadway, at the National Theatre in Sarajevo, and at the Kennedy Center. Hailed throughout the world Ensler's uninhibited masterpiece has become a rallying cry for women. Listen, laugh, and learn.
Chancie More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable, amusing, funny, heartfelt, but lacking depth in most of the stories. I enjoyed it, but I don't feel like the changed person I thought I'd feel like after reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's black font on black background...
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