Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Followup on the Vagina Monologues
To follow up on Brett's comment below, I agree that it's courageous to put it on in Islamabad. But on the other hand, cities like Islamabad and Mumbai have a large theatergoing audience of upper-crust socialites who would never actually do volunteer work but congratulate themselves on activism-lite activities such as this.
I have other objections that deserve a longer, but I'll list them here:

a. The rape of a minor is portrayed sympathetically because the rapist is a lesbian who hopes it will lead to a lesbian/sexual awakening in the victim. This alone makes it unwatchable from a moral standpoint. (Yes I realize I'm putting an interpretation in there and one could interpret this scene differently or ironically, but I think the textual evidence supports my interpretation. Yes, Ensler has made the 14-year-old victim a 16-year-old victim, but why did she use a 14-year-old in the first place?)
b. All the men in the play are portrayed unsympathetically
c. It is politically good and thus, like much current political art, cheaply bypasses the challenge of being aesthetically good.
d. It consists of the kind of humor that would cause sexual harassment lawsuits were women at the butt of the jokes.
e. Vagina is not a synonym for vulva. It's really hilarious yet sad that I as a man know this, while Ensler doesn't.
f. Ensler has endorsed the campus V-day activities around it, which hijack Valentine's day and have the ulterior motive of tainting heterosexual relationships because such relationships are "patriarchal" and entail that a "woman needs a man."
g. The V-day activities are intended to "end violence against women" which is an unattainable goal, so it is guaranteed an audience in perpetuity. A more politically mature (albeit unromantic) approach would specify a realistic goal and a realistic budget for specific prevention goals. (see R. Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics.)
h. It buries the fact that men on average endure as much domestic violence as women -- not to mention far more non-domestic violence.

Now back to my day job :)


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