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I am not my vagina

February 18, 2014

I am not my vagina.

Women shouldn’t reduce other women to their organs. Women are much more than their vaginas. I am proud of being a woman.  But I will be the first to tell you that I am not my vagina. My vagina is a part of me. So please, do not call me a vagina. Don’t call other women vaginas. We have them. They do not have to define us, that is the reason behind ending sexual violence.

For the past three years I have participated in The Vagina Monologues at my university. The goal of the show is to build a community,

celebrate the female body, and stand up to end sexual violence against women. Eve Ensler createdThe Vagina Monologues after hundreds of interviews with women across the world, and it had such an impact on me that I added a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.  But to say that I have many issues with the premise of the script would be an understatement.

As a theatre artist and feminist I have loved the show for encouraging women to speak about their bodies to support the end to sexual violence against all women and girls. But the show rarely references positive sexual experiences with other people. I will never understand why these aren’t included in a show about vaginas.  We can talk about how many nerves there are in the clit but never really talk about sex. Or, on a greater scale, shouldn’t there be a piece about positive sexual experiences that come after traumatic ones? It is a powerful moment when you realize that good people exist in the world who care about you and your vagina on a deeply personal level. Wouldn’t that be an incredibly profound experience for the audience?

The reason I participate in The Vagina Monologues is to support the end of sexual assaults and to encourage a community of healing. And every year I get physically upset with Eve when I hear “Vagina Happy Fact,” where female anatomy is compared to a weapon. How can a show geared toward ending sexual violence promote violence in any form? Or, are guns not inherently violent? The piece becomes a competition between a clit and a penis, because “who needs a hand when you have a semi-automatic?” I don’t feel comfortable comparing any type of genitalia to weapons. War crimes are brought up in the show on multiple occasions, so why speak about vaginas in a way that encourages violence?

Eve has raised over $85 million dollars to support the end of sexual abuse, and not many people can say that. She has drawn attention to a systemic issue that is usually ignored and I applaud her for that. But this show, a show about vaginas, could be a platform for all the positive interactions women have with their vaginas, instead of just addressing the negatives.

I will never forget the impact Vagina Monologues has had on my life and the courageous women it has introduced me to; but because of these shortcomings, I can’t help but be critical of it.

The opinions expressed in this article represent those of the author, and not necessarily Catharsis Productions. Our blog may occasionally host content that does not directly reflect the sentiments of the company because the dialogue it generates may have value to our readers.

photo credit: tvmDefinition via photopin (license)

Samantha Bentson