Oppressed by the Vagina Monologues

Via Redneck Feminist, an amusing article in Reason considers the right-wing horror of Eve Ensler’s much-criticized play.

Meet the put-upon conservative coed, the prototype pushed by conservative feminists to demonstrate liberal bias on college campuses. We’ll call her Claire. Claire doesn’t want any part of this vulgar spectacle known as The Vagina Monologues, but her Feminine Mystique-touting, Germaine Greer-quoting friends are tying her to a chair and making her watch. She desperately wants to be chaste, but condom-peddling feminists are driving her to her knees at the frathouse next door. She really just wants to be a mom, but her mentors in the gender studies department say that’s just not acceptable.

Claire may or may not exist, but there is a whole movement dedicated to setting her free. I recently watched Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, give a speech on Eve Ensler’s Monologues to like-minded women. The play is performed on hundreds of campuses around Valentine’s Day ever year, and Sommers is annually appalled, most deeply by what she calls “a four-letter-word that begins in c, ends in t, and is not coat.” [...]

This is the frustrating irony of conservative feminism: As the movement rightly condemns modern feminism for being a paralyzing ideology of victimization, it leaves a bloody trail of victimhood in its wake. Whether they be Yale freshmen or Princeton professors, the weaker sex is apparently unable to withstand the excesses of Naomi Wolf. Claire doesn’t stand a chance.

At the close of Sommers’ dire warning about Ensler’s play, a concerned mother had a question: “Where can I send my child so she’s not exposed to this?” The audience obliged with suggestions of Ensler-banning, second-rate colleges; Sommers nodded gravely. When women who call themselves feminists see censorship as the way forward, we have bigger problems than bad playwriting.

What bothers me more than the censorship is that some parents would rather send their daughters to second-rate colleges than allow them to be “exposed” to a play they disapprove of at a first-rate college.

Redneck Feminist’s post also has an entertaining story of how she learned to relax and enjoy The Vagina Monologues.

P.S. By the way, I’m not particularly bothered by Reason Magazine’s cliched slamming of contemporary feminism as “a paralyzing ideology of victimization.” Reason is a magazine written by libertarians; libertarians call it an “ideology of victimization” whenever anyone suggests anything other than Evil Big Government is ever oppressive or problematic.

UPDATE: Check out Amanda’s take on this story.

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105 Responses to Oppressed by the Vagina Monologues

  1. 101
    Robert says:

    Also, since you shifted twice already on this: is porn a large pervasive industry, or a minority phenomenon? Pick one answer and stick with it.

    There is no necessary contradiction between these statements. The sale of light aircraft is a large and pervasive industry; billions in sales, little airports scattered throughout the country. It is also a minority phenomenon; not that many people own light planes.

    But that’s not you being deliberate obtuse.

    No, I don’t think that it is. Your recharacterization of Ginmar’s words may well be what she actually meant.

    But when someone says something, and another person comes along and says “hey, that doesn’t seem right”, and the original speaker goes into attack mode and never actually comes out and says “hey, that isn’t what I meant to say” – what is the observer to surmise?

    Would you answer the question ‘do you think it is fair to imply every woman wants to fuck Will in Will & Grace’?

    Sure, why not? If it were a contentious question, I might ask for clarification, since it is phrased ambiguously. No, it wouldn’t be fair to imply that every woman wants to fuck Will.

    It’s a question about something that was never said.

    OK. So a reasonable person might reply “Well, I didn’t say that and didn’t mean to imply it. But no, it wouldn’t be fair.”

    I didn’t ask “is it right that Ginmar likes to kill puppies?” I asked “is it right to kill puppies.”

    The worst thing that can happen in answering a question is that you might have to acknowledge that someone else has a point. There won’t be any bleeding. We’re not in a courtroom. Ginmar won’t be shackled off to Gitmo if it becomes established that she made an inappropriate generalization. I won’t be beaten with chains if it becomes established that I’ve misunderstood what she meant.

    Which was not the straw man generalisation you turned it into…

    Then why is there such massive resistance to disavowing it?

    There’s a real easy way to get out of a strawman situation. That’s to say “that isn’t what I believe – you’ve misunderstood me”.

    If Ginmar does not believe that it is reasonable to generalize “male person” into “porn consumer”, then it takes one sentence to completely shut me up: “no, that’s not what I meant”.

    If you do not believe it is reasonable to generalize “male person” into “porn consumer”, then it takes one sentence to completely shut me up: “if that’s what Ginmar meant, then I disagree with her; I don’t think that’s what she meant.”

  2. 102
    noodles says:

    There is no necessary contradiction between these statements. The sale of light aircraft is a large and pervasive industry; billions in sales, little airports scattered throughout the country. It is also a minority phenomenon; not that many people own light planes.

    Another apt analogy, right?

    Like owning light planes has any cultural or social relation to views, attitudes, mentalities about sex, sexual relations, gender relations, etc.?

    Why not compare it porn to the oil industry? Or to Saudi investments in the US? I’m sure they’re bigger, in the trillion figures, it seems.

    But, see, I wonder why all those articles and studies who talk about the porn industry tend to draw comparisons in terms of revenue between it and the Hollywood industry and tv media and sports, rather than oil or diamonds or real estate.

    Why do you think that is, Robert?

    Your recharacterization of Ginmar’s words may well be what she actually meant.
    But when someone says something, and another person comes along and says “hey, that doesn’t seem right”?, and the original speaker goes into attack mode and never actually comes out and says “hey, that isn’t what I meant to say”? – what is the observer to surmise?

    The answer to that question, one may surmise, is perhaps in the comment where Ginmar in comment #74 replied to my #69:

    Me (addressing Robert): But attempting to deny that it is everywhere or that it overwhemingly caters to men is a little disingenous, you’ll concede, perhaps?

    Ginmar: Yeah, Robert’s too busy waving the traditional flag of, OMG, you said this.

    and again in comment #81 replied to my #77:

    Me: Anyway. I of course am not speaking for Ginmar (and I apologise to her in case I’m mistaking her) but her point seemed quite clear to me. I am amazed that there’s any need to dissect it as if it was an incredible thing to say, that’s all.

    Ginmar: No, Noodles, I appreciate the back up. I especially like it when he responded, “Well, women do it too, you know!”? So to speak. God forbid I get sarcastic or anything.

    Do you want clearer than that? Here it gets even clearer:

    Ginmar: Words have meanings, Robert, but you’re nitpicky only when it suits your purpose.

    I would say she is factually correct, since you didn’t seem to nitpick on those other comments of her above cited, in fact, you didn’t even pick them up at all. You just passed by them and now have the nerve to ask Ginmar to again come back to explain to you what you already missed twice, three times, ten times.

    Instead of engaging everyone in this tiresome dance, next time, why don’t you start by reading comments carefully, in context, taking in the sarcasm, the target, the intent that is obvious from context, etc? Because, Robert, you have come to acknowledge you agree with the whole bleeding point of that comment, but you are still formally denying that you misrepresented it just to nitpick about that oh so offensive connection between men and porn.

    - Would you answer the question ‘do you think it is fair to imply every woman wants to fuck Will in Will & Grace’?

    Sure, why not? If it were a contentious question, I might ask for clarification, since it is phrased ambiguously. No, it wouldn’t be fair to imply that every woman wants to fuck Will.

    No, you don’t get it – what if nobody had actually said ‘every woman wants to fuck Will’? Would you answer the question from someone saying ‘do you think its fair to say’… something that was never said?

    OK. So a reasonable person might reply “Well, I didn’t say that and didn’t mean to imply it. But no, it wouldn’t be fair.”?

    But duh, if the question is based on wrong premises?

    The worst thing that can happen in answering a question is that you might have to acknowledge that someone else has a point. There won’t be any bleeding. We’re not in a courtroom.

    Why, did anyone said we were? You’re the one who’s repeating the questions you already got answers to.

    Again, yes, your question, despite being based on entirely wrong premises, has been answered already anyway. Repeatedly. Here goes again. It is bleeding obvious that it is impossible to and say every male person must be a porn consumer.

    But that is not what Ginmar was saying, for the love of sweet jesus.

    There is no “IF she was implying that then I disagree” (nice try there) – it is obvious she was not implying that. Because it is obviously obtuse to take a sarcastic statement about the pervasivenss of porn and its representation of female sexuality as a literal statement that every man must be a porn consumer.

    Ginmar won’t be shackled off to Gitmo if it becomes established that she made an inappropriate generalization.

    Established by who? You’re the only one arguing that she was ‘inappropriate’.

    I won’t be beaten with chains if it becomes established that I’ve misunderstood what she meant.

    But will you apologise profusely and write ‘I have been deliberately obtuse for twenty plus comments by missing the sarcasm in a comment when I actually did agree with the point it was making’?

    Then why is there such massive resistance to disavowing it?

    Which resistance? Robert, you don’t get to deliberately misread a statement, ignore following retorts, miss the point and target and sarcasm, and *then* demand that someone yet again finds the patience to play along terms you’ve framed as completely distorted in respect to the original statement you misread, and when you do indeed get even that, pretend you didn’t.

    Because that’s not called being analytical. It’s called something else.

  3. 103
    ginmar says:

    Robert, I’ve said it over and over and fuc king over already: You. Are. Being. Disingenuous. In fact, you have branched off into being an ass. Would you stop? Would you stop already? It’s getting fucking tedious. You’re so fuckin’ far afield of what I said, I have practically no idea what it is you’re trying to say. So, to recap: You siad that you used porn. Your frineds used pron. Nevertheless, you want to whine and bitch about how much pron is consumed in the US by men.

    Jesus, I wish I had your fuckin’ problems. I really do. I wish I had to whine and bitch and moan about these fractions here and there. I really do. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. When you’re not slighting women, you’re whining about how those women malign men. What an existance.

  4. 104
    Robert says:

    OK, it’s clear that wer’re off into cloud cuckoo land here. Let’s just drop it; y’all aren’t reading what I’m writing any more, if you ever were.

  5. 105
    Ampersand says:

    Thread closed to further comments. (I would have closed it a while ago, but I didn’t look at the internet today).