The second book to read for the Banging Book Club was The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. As an English graduate I had heard of this collection of performance monologues before, but until I read the introduction I didn’t know that Eve Ensler interviewed so many women about their vaginas, or even what kind of stories about vaginas were included. Although short – it took me like a day to finish – it covers a lot of topics and, at times, can be quite difficult to read. Personally, I find it difficult to read about abortions and violence towards the vagina, like FGM, and some violence and blood is talked about in detail. However I powered through, because I know that it is important to talk about these issues.
My initial response was that if I had read this earlier on in my life, then it would be much more useful to me. I only started learning about feminism properly when I was eighteen or nineteen, whilst in my first year of university. This brand of feminism would have been more enlightening at that point, when I wasn’t as aware of my body as I am now. At twenty two, I now feel that although I have a lot more to learn, I am comfortable with my sexuality, with my vagina, and with talking about it. So the lessons in The Vagina Monologues, although important, are ones I have already learnt.
This does not mean it was not worth the read. On the contrary, I think it was amazing to me to learn that there are women out there who have never looked at their vagina, or who never talked about it with another woman before. My group of friends are open about this subject, and so its weird to me to think that there are people in other generations who aren’t. Learning how Ensler coaxed women into talking about it and her methods of dedicating the stories to these women was extremely interesting and, in itself, I found the monologues incredibly powerful.
What impresses me most about The Vagina Monologues is it’s legacy, the impact it has had on feminism across the world and how people still study and perform these monologues. It has effected an entire generation of women and has, almost in itself, changed the way we talk about our vaginas. I think its amazing that Ensler has developed the text to include transgender people and what the vagina means to them. I would love to actually see these monologues performed, now that I have read it, because I would understand better how Ensler meant the stories to be consumed.
Boy, I’ve said vagina a lot in this blog.
I’d love to read more feminist performance literature, recommend some if you know of any.