The 'Monologues' Ride Again

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Last month, a V-Day
2001 e-announcement went out from
. It read, "Calling
all college students, supportive faculty and administrators – actors,
directors, Women’s Studies majors, activists, health educators.
Calling anyone affiliated with any college or university worldwide
who is interested in participating in the most important political,
social and theatrical event of the year 2001."

call is meant to politicize V-day

14th, Valentine’s Day, which used to be a time to pause
and celebrate the lovelier aspects of romance between the sexes.
Flowers. Candlelit dinners. Champaigne. Gifts of perfume and chocolate.
Maybe a night away from the kids in a classy hotel. But the mainstream
of feminism apparently believes that there is no room on the calendar
for an evening in which to remember such romance. The announcement
declares, "V-Day is a movement to stop violence against women.
V-Day’s debut on Valentine’s Day 1998 was a benefit performance
of Eve Ensler’s Obie award winning "The Vagina Monologues"….V-Day
is still Valentine’s Day. But the "V" now also stands
for vagina, anti-violence and victory." The transformation
of the "V" word from ‘Valentine’ to ‘Vagina and Violence’
has been widely embraced by the feminist movement. The National
Organization for Women enthusiastically declared, "The
V-Day mission statement incorporates ending rape, sexual abuse of
children, battery and genital mutilation
." And, so, this
gentle celebration of romance between the sexes is being converted
into a shrill protest against the statistically few men who physically
batter women.

The attempt is likely to collapse from the weight of its own PC
hypocrisy. The organizers themselves realize this and have taken
precautions. They have even raised the threat of legal action against
anyone who sponsors an "unauthorized" production of "The
Vagina Monologues" – – the performance of which constitutes
the core of V-Day. The ALERT! warns, "If you go forward with
a production WITHOUT permission, you could be subject to legal proceedings."
The purpose of this threat is not to ensure that Ensler’s work is
accurately rendered. Quite the opposite. It is to ensure that the
original words are not heard.

In "The Vagina Monologues," women (who represent vaginas)
speak out from the stage about their experiences and preferences.
For example, one vagina might discuss her predilection for feather
boas as opposed to blue jeans. The original includes a scenario
entitled "The Little Coochi Snorcher that Could." This
is a reference to a 13-year-old girl/vagina who calls her genitalia
"coochi snorcher." In this scene, a 24-year-old woman
plies the child with alcohol, then sexually seduces her. By statute
law and by all prior feminist definitions I have read, this "seduction"
is both rape and child abuse. The scene would elicit unmitigated
rage if the seducer were a heterosexual male. Yet, in the original
text, the little girl declares, "Now people say it was a kind
of rape…. Well, I say if it was rape, it was a good rape…."
(The reference to "good rape" was deleted from some performances
last year but the surrounding language still made the rape’s goodness
clear.) The Coochi Snorcher eulogized her orgasm: "She [the
24 year-old woman] gently and slowly lays me out on the bed…."
In the end, the child gratefully concludes, "I’ll never need
to rely on a man."

It is not clear whether "The Little Coochi Snorcher that Could"
will be part of the play being promoted by V-Day 2001 College Initiative.
The play is no longer to be performed from the original text but
from a special script that will be distributed for use to campus
groups that meet the organizer’s requirements. Unlike V-Days 1999
and 2000, the organizers of 2001 are laying down rules and issuing
legal threats to those who break them. Consider one of the "Rules"
for participating in V-Day 2001: "You must use the version
of the script of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ that is included in the
Performance Kit that you will receive. No other version of the play
is acceptable for your production. Do not use the book of the play
or versions of the script from previous College Initiatives. The
new script must be followed."

Why are the organizers so determined to prevent the original version
from being performed? After all, this version is the one credited
with sparking the entire V-Day movement. Moreover, the
announcement declares, "All of the productions that were mounted
for the V-Day 1999 and 2000 College Initiatives were huge successes."

Last year, when "The Vagina Monologues" was staged at
Georgetown University, Robert Swope – a bi-weekly contributor
and token conservative voice for the student paper, The Hoya
– asked an irksome question in his column. Swope wanted to
know, "Is there such a thing as a good rape?" You would
think that feminists would heartily endorse his skepticism. You
would be wrong. Swope was questioning the "good" lesbian
"seduction" of the Coochi Snorker. He was also highlighting
the hypocrisy of the Women’s Studies Department. Swope was imprudent
enough to ask, "why is rape only wrong when a man commits it,
but when it’s by a woman committed against another woman, who just
happens to be 13-years-old, it is celebrated and a university club
sponsors it?"

The Hoya refused to run Swope’s critique. In an e-mail, the
editor-in-chief David Wong explained that the column did not run
because it was "spiteful more than constructive" and attacked
"a women’s issue on campus." Swope was abruptly dismissed
from the student newspaper. His earlier columns were purged from
the archives.

Among them was a piece entitled "Georgetown Women’s Center:
Asset or Improper Expenditure" in which he remarked upon how
some of the faculty from the Women’s Center had reacted to a presentation
of the pro-rape Vagina Monologues: they gave it a standing ovation.
He wrote, "Like clap-ridden sailors in a Southeast Asian strip
joint, the mostly female audience who attended the monologues hooted
and hollered, laughing and clapping…." This was an odd reaction
given that one of the Center’s primary purposes is to support women
who have been raped. Swope called for the Center to be disbanded.

Clearly, not "all of the productions…mounted for the V-Day
1999 and 2000 College Initiatives were huge successes" as the announcement proclaimed. Nor could the organizers be
unfamiliar with the Swope controversy. Articles on his dismissal
appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Salon, National
Review, the Washington Times, and the Weekly Standard,
among others. Former alumni of Georgetown, William Peter Blatty
(author of The Exorcist) wrote: "With all that the demon
says and does in my novel, never until I read of The Hoya’s…support
of The Vagina Monologues, and their suppression of Robert Swope’s
article, have I truly appreciated the meaning of the word ‘obscenity.’"
As a result, the censored column was widely reprinted and received
national attention.

It is yet to be seen whether the "good rape" remains in
the "edited" version provided in the Performance Kit.
In a recent article in Heterodoxy magazine, "Monologue,
not Dialogue, at Georgetown," Swope commented on "the
lengths to which it [political correctness] goes in an effort to
seem like something else and thus be able to continue to feel good
about itself." It will be interesting to see how extensively
"The Vagina Monologues" will be edited to preserve radical
feminism’s self-image of being against rape. Or will the "good
rape" remain?

3, 2000

McElroy is author of The
Reasonable Woman
. See more of her work at
and at her personal website.

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