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From the Hardcover edition.
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
From the Hardcover edition.
|The Vagina Monologues||1|
|Join the V-Day Movement||173|
1. The Vagina Monologues is based on interviews that Eve Ensler did with hundreds of real women. Is there a particular monologue or part of a monologue that you feel is relevant to your OWN life or experience?
2. Despite the fact that The Vagina Monologues is rooted in real people's experiences, are there any aspects of the "characters'" stories that don't ring true to you? Do you think the play reads more like fiction or non-fiction?
3. Which is your favorite monologue and why?
4. In her introduction to The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler writes "Vagina. There, I've said it. Vagina — said it again." The word "vagina" is used more than 100 times in The Vagina Monologues. How comfortable do you feel saying the word? Would you be willing to have "a vagina interview?" Do you think most women are comfortable talking about their vaginas?
5. The Vagina Monologues has been presented as a commercial production in many cities in the United States and abroad, sometimes with Eve Ensler as the performer, sometimes with trios of well-known actresses and personalities as the performers, and sometimes with more than a dozen female performers. Which manifestation of the play as a performance do you think would serve it best? And are there places in the world where you think the play would NOT be well-received? If so, why?
6. The Vagina Monologues has also been the centerpiece of hundreds of non-commercial events worldwide through its use in V-Day, a movement to stop violenceagainst women. For example, for three years, the V-Day College Initiative has been inviting colleges and universities to mount productions of The Vagina Monologues on their campuses on V-Day (Valentine's Day). Almost 500 schools around the world have participated in this project to date. ALL V-Day events use The Vagina Monologues as a tool to raise money and awareness to stop sexual violence. Proceeds from the events go to local, national and international organizations already working to stop violence against women. Do you think this is an effective use of the play? Where in the world do you believe such a production would be welcomed? Needed? Criticized?
7. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' 1996 National Crime Victimization Survey, somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes. Campus Outreach Services reports that every 21 hours on each college campus in the United States there is a rape. Morocco's Penal Code states that murder, injury and beating are excusable if they are committed by a husband on his wife (as well as the accomplice at the moment) if he catches them in the act of adultery. The Feminist Majority describes the inhumane situation for women in Afghanistan: Upon seizing power in Afghanistan in 1996, the Taliban, an extremist militia, instituted a system of "gender apartheid" that stripped women and girls of their basic human rights and effectively thrust them into a state of virtual house arrest. Women are prohibited from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative. And they are forced to wear burqas, garments that cover their bodies from head to toe with only a small opening through which to see. These are just two of many such humiliations and horrors that women suffer in Afghanistan. Women are beaten and often killed for failing to adhere to the rules that govern them. How aware are you of the problem of violence against women in your community? In your state? In your country? In the world? How aware do think others are?
8. Numerous organizations offer information and support to educate people about and to fight violence against women, including V-Day, the Feminist Majority, Equality Now and Planned Parenthood, among many others. Do you think people are aware that such resources exist and do you think they are utilized?
9. How do you think both men and women would benefit from reading or seeing the play? What reactions do you think people of each sex have to it?
10. Do you think the play is relevant to people of all ages and ethnicities?
Posted May 11, 2007
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!
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Posted March 6, 2005
I'm a junior at Ruidoso High School in New Mexico. When the drama teacher asked us if we wanted to go away to the college campus ENMU in Portales for four days, there was no way that I would say no. When we arrived we picked up the schedule for the plays that were going to be taking place, I saw a play titled 'The Vagina Monologues' by Women's Issues in Theatre. I was intrigued about what it was. It was obvious that it had something to do about feminism. I couldnt wait to see it. When I finally sat down in the theatre to watch it I was excited. As each women on stage performed they brought out a sense of power to the women and young ladies in the audience. They spoke about tampons, rape, sexuality, shaving, abuse, love and hate. 'The Vagina Monologues' covered everything that feminism is. After thier performance, they were one of the few that recieved a standing ovation. 'The Vagina Monologues' brought out a sense of power, feminism, and equality in me. I havent stopped talking about it since. I highly recommed that you go see the performance. Im hoping to read the book soon.
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Posted March 22, 2013
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Posted May 7, 2007
¿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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2005
i have worked in our university's production of the Vagina Monologues and it was quite an experience. The performance is in our language (Filipino), translated by three of the finest women writers of the country and directed by one of the best teachers in art studies. the performance was more powerful because it was delivered in a language that barely recognizes the word vagina and in a culture that frowns upon its utterance. here in the philippines, where views about sexuality are still conservative, Vagina Monologues has opened a lot of minds and spurned more discussions about female sexuality. a few laughs, then some heartbreaking lines has hit the psyche of Filipinos. this book popularized by the empowering theater performance is powerful like the play, and it has both cheerfully and mournfully played along the lines of the taboo.
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Posted June 28, 2005
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 13, 2004
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2004
I recently performed The Vagina Monologues at the college I attend, and it was the most amazing experience of my life. Read the book, see the show, be a part of the movement. It will change everything.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 2, 2003
The vagina monolouges are beutifully written, lovingly thought out, and willingly accepted. Of course the performance is better, one or two sections of the book are only meant to be in a theatre, live. but failing that, some of the interveiws conducted here made me cry! it is with truth and honesty, and a genuine comfort and acceptance about the subject on which she writes does Eve ensler presnt the vagina monolouges. dont hold yourself back, this book takes life by the shoulders and shakes it up! you wont regret it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2003
I have directed this play 3 times and each time,it has been greatly supported by both men, and women. The messages it sends are strong and clear. Everyone should be a prt of this wonderful experience.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 3, 2002
I'd never heard of the Vagina Monologues until I saw this book on a table at B&N (where I worked at the time). I bought it, read it, and loved it. Some things were funny, some things were sad, and some were boring. Regardless, it is an important message that was received by me, and hopefully everyone else who read this book. I'm sure the performance is a great deal more powerful in person, but this book did the best job it could do.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 2, 2002
While I respect Eve Ensler's sense of creativity and pride in being a woman, I found her 'Monologues' to be completely uninteresting. Some of the answers to questions she posed to different people were witty, but not worth buying the book for. I originally intended to go see a Valentine's Day performance of the 'Monologues', but decided against it after reading the printed version.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2001
Having heard about V-day (Stopping Violence Against Women) in a magazine, my curiosity was peaked. I ran across this book in a store and bought it immediately. I couldn't put it down. I read it immediately and talked about it with everyone. I couldn't help myself. It is addictive, to say the least. The ideas inside got to me, got me to think about things that I usually keep to myself. I discussed it with my boyfriend, with my mother, with my friends. Please give this book a chance and get past the shock you may have because It voices an important message for women of all ages, races, backgrounds.... Violence against women is wrong- and more women need to be in tune with their bodies and their feelings. Women are not inferior. We are amazing, wonderful, caring and have the abilitiy to be many things. To Eve and all of those involved with V Day and the Vagina Monologues... WOW - Thank You!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2001
One of the funniest books I have ever read. Impossible to not laugh-out-loud throughout most of it. And it is all too true!!! Vaginas need to be recognized and cherished! Women are too wonderful to go unnoticed...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 13, 2000
I did enjoy this book, but it definitely did not live up to the hype created by the theatrical performance. I am sure the performance is great, but it is a flat read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 27, 2011
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Posted December 18, 2010
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Posted April 7, 2009
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