If you’re in the vicinity of Eastern Michigan University and wanted to see a performance of Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues,” I have bad news for you: It’s been canceled because too many of the characters were born with vaginas.
According to MLive, the Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center will no longer be putting on the play because transgender women aren’t included, among other travesties.
“The WRC announced its decision in an email, which came after the center evaluated responses from a survey,” MLive reported.
“Survey respondents opposing the production consistently indicated they were concerned that the play centers on cisgender women, that the play’s version of feminism excludes some women, including trans women, and that overall, ‘The Vagina Monologue’ lacks diversity and inclusion.”
And unfortunately, it’s not like they can alter it to make it fit their purposes (like some hyper-PC schools might consider). The play is still under copyright.
The decision was made after considering, among other things, feedback from a workshop called “Not all women have vaginas.”
“We feel that making this decision is in line with the WRC mission of recognizing and celebrating the diverse representations of women on campus along with the overall mission of the Department of Diversity and Community Involvement, in which the WRC is housed, of supporting and empowering minoritized students and challenging systems and structures that perpetuate inequities,” stated the email announcing the cancellation.
“We truly believe that it is important to center our minoritized students and this decision is in line with this mission driven value.”
In other news, “minoritized” is now a word. That dictionary, it really needs to be more inclusive.
“This created a need to ask the question: Do we still need ‘The Vagina Monologues?’ And, are ‘The Vagina Monologues’ still relevant to next generation feminists?” the email noted.
Believe it or not, I’ll agree with the Women’s Resource Center on one thing: The 1994 play, which involves a series of monologues in which women talk about their vaginas (I guess, much like the producers of the film “Horrible Bosses,” Ensler didn’t really want prospective audiences wondering too much about what the plot would entail) was endemic to a very specific, very liberal, very privileged form of feminism circa 1994.
However, nobody seems to get that the decision to cancel future performances of it is endemic to a very specific, very liberal, very privileged form of feminism circa 2018 — one where those crying “inclusion über alles!” don’t seem to realize this insanely particular form of wokeness cannot survive without a bubble of entitlement.
There’s also an archipelago of these little bubbles coming to the same conclusions about “The Vagina Monologues.”
“American University’s Women’s Initiative chose to change the event to the ‘Breaking Ground Monologues’ in an effort to ‘broaden the focus from specifically female genitalia to multiple identities and bodies,'” MLive noted.
“In 2015, a student group at Mount Holyoke College decided to cancel its annual performance of the production, saying the play excludes the experiences of transgender women who don’t have a vagina.”
It’s up to any group to decide what they want or don’t want to perform. Lord knows I have no stake in this game; I’ve seen “The Vagina Monologues” once and my viewership total will presumably stay locked at that number.
However, there is a bigger problem of artistic epistemology lurking behind all of this: Do we want an environment where every work must fit the mores of the moment? Is that what the Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center wants?
If so, this represents the the infantilization of prospective audiences. Part of the reason art survives through history is our ability to contextualize it. We know, for instance, that when James Bond dismisses one of his cortège of women simply by telling her it was time for “man talk,” we know it was made a half-century ago during a very different era in gender relations.
Upon seeing arranged Shakespearean betrothals performed on stage, it would take a truly sick and stunted mind to think, “You know, that’s how women ought to be married off.”
If the brains behind the Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center truly believes we’ve turned some kind of cultural corner on transgenderism, never to look back on the part of the road from whence we’ve come — and certainly they seem to want us to believe we have — then why can’t audiences be trusted to contextualize “The Vagina Monologues” in that way?
Do they think they lack the capacity to realize the play is almost 25 years old, made during a different time? Must all art now be of the present moment, so that none of the conventions of yesteryear be allowed to somehow worm themselves back into circulation? Do they think that the audience might see a little of themselves in the play’s entitled feminist viewpoint and begin to think outside of their bubble? Are they not perhaps entirely convinced this whole “not all women have vaginas” thing is quite as settled as they want to believe it to be?
Any one of these four possibilities is both possible and reprehensible, and they certainly aren’t mutually exclusive. The only good news I have regarding this decision, alas, is for the students at Eastern Michigan University: You don’t have to see “The Vagina Monologues.”
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