The pathetic student life I lead allows me to spend my Friday night reading about vaginas. This Friday night, I found myself laughing at the monologues, as well as being truly touched (no pun intended) by the different stories that women have shared. The Foreword by Gloria Steinem resonates with the same upbringing I received: “I come from the ‘down there’ generation”, a generation where women whose mothers referred to their vagina as a, “pussycat,” “pooki,” “flower,” “Mimi,” or a “twat” if you are from New Jersey. One could say the very point of this book is to be able to say the frightening word, “vagina,” and stop treating your vagina as if it is something to be ashamed of. Ensler also asks the thousands of women she has interviewed simple questions about their vaginas, such as, “If your vagina could talk, what would it say in two words?” After reading twenty or more responses, as a female reader I found myself agreeing with each answer. I felt connected with each woman’s story.
Ensler takes her readers (men included) on a journey throughout the entire vagina, and she allows you to explore each obstacle that may have allowed you to not love your vagina before. Stories about pubic hair, menstruating, pleasure, the word ‘cunt,’ lesbians, as well as stories of pain and trauma fill the pages. Each story seems to offer an opportunity to reclaim your vagina, and get in touch with your vagina by paying her the attention she deserves.
One of the critiques of The Vagina Monologues is based on how Ensler wrote her book, essentially judging it as literature. The book is meant to be performed though, so don’t compare the book’s writing style to novels you have read, because the Vagina Monologues is not intended to be a great piece of literature, it’s a play.
This book is not the first about vaginas, but it offers a new look at a very beautiful place on a woman’s body. It acts as a reminder to not let your vagina be forgotten. In the introduction, Gloria Steinem writes about cathedrals and churches and how much beauty they have when we first walk into the sanctuary. Steinem also writes about how the design of these temples also imitate the female body, “There is an outer and inner entrance, labia major and labia minora; a central vaginal aisle toward the altar; two curved ovarian structures on either side; and then in the sacred centre, the altar or womb, where the miracle takes place – where males give birth.” This is a perspective that I have never heard before, but undoubtedly has changed my perception of the inside of a church.
Ladies and gents, snuggle up and allow yourself to be taken over by stories and monologues about vaginas. Squirming on your couch with a smirk on your face is just as enjoyable while reading a book.