Last month, a V-Day 2001 e-announcement went out from feminist.com. 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."
The call is meant to politicize V-day February 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 feminist.com 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: Indispensable 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 feminist.com 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?
August 3, 2000