No, Colleges Aren’t Banning The Vagina Monologues

The popular vblogger Laci Green, in her most recent video, said:

Colleges are banning hugely impactful feminist works like The Vagina Monologues because it implies that some women have vaginas.

This is a common claim – but as far as I can make out, it’s false. Some student groups have chosen not to perform TVM – but choosing not to perform a play isn’t remotely the same as “banning” a play.

To support this claim, Laci displayed the headline to this National Review article, about a student-run group at American University deciding not to perform The Vagina Monologues this year. Instead, they performed a new play, “Breaking Ground Monologues,” which was written by students.

Nothing in the article suggests that the college (as opposed to the student group) was the decision-maker, or supports the claim that American University has “banned” performing The Vagina Monologues.

On Twitter, Liana K pointed to this Inside Higher Ed article to support Laci Green’s claim that colleges have been banning The Vagina Monologues. But the article is about a student group at Mount Holyoke choosing to perform something else this year. How is that an example of a college “banning” The Vagina Monologues?

In fact, the same year that one Mount Holyoke student group decided not to do TVM, a different Mount Holyoke student group decided to do a performance of TVM – and the college released a statement officially approving of both productions.

It may be that somewhere in the country, some college has banned The Vagina Monologues from being performed, but I can’t find evidence of it. And both Laci Green’s and Liana K’s references show how primed people are to interpret virtually anything that happens on campus as censorship. Laci’s implication that “colleges,” plural, are “banning” feminist works like The Vagina Monologues in order to be inclusive of trans students seems entirely false.

Three further notes:

1) Mandolin just pointed out this Julia Serano essay on The Vagina Monologues to me. “It is true that some trans people do not like The Vagina Monologues, or consider it to be trans-exclusive. However, many trans people do appreciate the play, and some of us have performed in it.”

2) This is becoming a pattern of Laci Green distorting the truth in ways that support popular anti-trans narratives. See also here and here.

3) This is also part of a pattern of anti-SJWs interpreting freely made choices as censorship. Student groups being free to choose which plays to perform is an exercise of free speech, not an affront to it.

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5 Responses to No, Colleges Aren’t Banning The Vagina Monologues

  1. 1
    Tamen says:

    “It is true that some trans people do not like The Vagina Monologues, or consider it to be trans-exclusive. However, many trans people do appreciate the play, and some of us have performed in it.”

    The way this is quoted in footnote 1 as part of Julia Serano essay make it sound like Serano herself have performed in a The Vagina Monologue play. The quoted text originally contained this link to an article by Meredith Talusan describing how she performed the “Because He Liked To Look At It” monologue. A very moving piece which I recommend reading by the way.

    Serano has performed in what she called a “rogue monologue” written by herself – not Ensler. Unless Eve Ensler have lifted the restriction on only allowing the play to be played unaltered I wouldn’t call it playing in “The Vagina Monologues”.

  2. 2
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    3) This is also part of a pattern of anti-SJWs interpreting freely made choices as censorship. Student groups being free to choose which plays to perform is an exercise of free speech, not an affront to it.

    Well, the SJ folks are often claiming that certain types of speech are violent/dehumanizing/etc., and are doing their level best to expand the concept of “coercion”. In that context it’s arguably fair for the SJ opposition to refer to some SJ actions which are designed to deter speech as “censorship;” the opposition probably involves similar kinds of speech and probably involves similar levels of coercion as the SJ folks treat as valid.

    Language style for the goose should be language style for the gander, and all that. You can’t stretch definitions on the left and hold everyone else to the dictionary.

    However, I agree that this is not actually “censorship.”

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    some SJ actions which are designed to deter speech

    How do you know that these students, by choosing not to perform The Vagina Monologues, are taking an action “designed to deter speech?” The word “designed” is an opinion not just about what they did, but also about their motivation.

  4. 4
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ampersand says:
    July 24, 2017 at 10:29 am
    some SJ actions which are designed to deter speech
    How do you know that these students, by choosing not to perform The Vagina Monologues, are taking an action “designed to deter speech?

    I was describing the people who opposed the VM performance, not the people who were affected by the opposition.

    The conflict comes up with the bold text in the claim “student groups being free to choose which plays to perform is an exercise of free speech”

    Personally, I am totally on board with the words “free to choose” meaning “free from illegal, i.e. very major, coercion.” But you will hopefully agree that many SJ folks (especially in academia) make claims in which more minor and perfectly-legal forms of persuasion are treated as fully coercive.

    For example, IF a threat to dump your partner unless they sleep with you is rape; AND/OR IF microaggressions, ‘deadnaming’, and the Vagina Monologues are literally violent; THEN a lot of SJ opposition to wrongthink, given the huge majority of liberal thought in academia and the power of the SJ movement, can fairly be described as “censorship.”

    My own view is “none of those if/then statements are true.” I suspect you are the same way. But I don’t think that SJ folks who support the first example statements–or anything similar–have much of a foundation to complain about “censorship.”

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    I was describing the people who opposed the VM performance, not the people who were affected by the opposition.

    As I understand it, they were one and the same people. That is, the student group that performed the plays made the decision for themselves. As far as anything I’ve read claimed, anyway.

    So, again, what makes you say they took an action “designed to deter speech?”

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