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Is 'The Vagina Monologues' Not Inclusive Enough?

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Project:Theatre, a student-run theatre group at Mount Holyoke College, the first of the Seven Sisters, has decided for the first time in ten years not to put on The Vagina Monologues. In an email defending the decision, Project:Theatre explained that, “at its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.”

The Vagina Monologues is a series of vignettes that centers on women embracing their vaginas in a society where even the word “vagina” prompts a twinge of discomfort. Eve Ensler wrote the play in order to remove the stigma of talking about vaginas and to empower those who possess them. Ensler states that the production “always has been a play about what it means to have a vagina. In the play, I never defined a woman as a person with a vagina.”

Ensler argues that, while intending to include those of varying gender identities and to impress that gender cannot be reduced to anatomy, cutting The Vagina Monologues from the Mount Holyoke season will only serve to further silence conversation about vaginas. Ensler also says that the message in The Vagina Monologues is still relevant today because many women "do not feel comfortable, familiar, free, or endowed with agency over" their vaginas.

The Vagina Monologues has been modified yearly in order to strive for inclusivity. In fact, in 2004, Ensler wrote a monologue from the perspective of a transgender woman called They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy at the request of a group of transgender women who put on The Vagina Monologues

It turns out, not all Mount Holyoke students are on board with this decision. While Project:Theatre may not be producing The Vagina Monologues this year, some students plan on hosting auditions this upcoming weekend to put on The Vagina Monologues on a smaller scale.

Mount Holyoke has recently opened its gates to transgender women and is actively working to make its community welcoming to these women, and all women with varying experiences and backgrounds. While extremely well-intentioned, there is wide speculation about why a student group at an all-women’s college would cancel a production that is meant to empower women.

Was Project:Theatre right in canceling this year's production of The Vagina Monologues due to the play's "narrow perspective," or is this move really a step back for the women of Mount Holyoke?


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