The Vagina Monologues

By Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem

31,175 ratings - 3.88* vote

I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues...At first women were reluctant to talk. They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas. They get very excited, mainly because no one's ever asked them before. I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues...At first women were reluctant to talk. They

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Book details

Paperback, 185 pages
May 3rd 2001 by Virago Press Ltd.

(first published 1996)

Original Title
The Vagina Monologues
ISBN
1860499260 (ISBN13: 9781860499265)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Kai

“I bet you're worried. I was worried. I was worried about vaginas. I was worried about what we think about vaginas, and even more worried that we don't think about them.”

To be honest, I was worried as well. I didn't want to think about vaginas. I still don't want to think about vaginas (simply because I've got the gay, you know.) But it is important that we do.
Thinking, reading, talking about vaginas in a feminist way, that's what I'm here for. We use the word penis in so many different situations and variations, without cringing, careless even.
But we never say "vagina" out loud. We hardly ever think it. And when we do, we cringe and lower our voices, or we shout it out loud as an insult. Why is that?
Because the female sex organ, in comparison to the male opposite, is at least as oppressed, shunned and mistreated as the female sex in comparison to the male one. This tiny book holds the power to not only normalise but to praise and strengthen the way we treat and talk about vaginas, which praises and empowers females as individuals in our society.

My only criticism is the overwhelming and tiring amount of letters and listing of stars who support this movement (which only appear in this special V-Day edition). It sounded more like a praise of personal fame, than giving evidence of the movement's influence. Sometimes, less is more.

Thanks for Emma Watson and Our shared shelf for bringing this book to my attention!

In a nutshell: an empowering and revolutionary read.

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Elle

It's disturbingly tempting to give this book a high rating just so everyone knows that I'm a feminist (which I am) and that I'm comfortable talking about sex (you mean coitus?). And I think Ensler depends on that tendency. Because here's the thing- VM's politics may be admirable, but as theatre it's really quite bad. Also, Ensler is a self-serving egomaniac. Think about it- she could fund an endowment for female playwrights and premiere a new feminist play every year, but instead she's set up an organization to promote the performance of this same play every single year all over the country (with strict rules so that no one takes too many liberties with her vision), and apparently the plan is to continue this for all time. Don't get me wrong, I see why this play is so eye-opening for so many people, and I think everyone should see it once, just to get the ideas out in the open. After several years of V-Days, though, I'm through.

Christian McKay

I don't understand a lot of the reviews on here. Especially the one star ones.

First of all, over the vagina/vulva debate, Ensler addresses that almost first thing. She purposefully chose the more hideous word to make people uncomfortable (and eventually--hopefully--comfortable with the subject matter). The low goodreads reviews make me think those people didn't actually read the play. Maybe they just saw a sub-par production that didn't have all the pieces. Fine. Forgivable.

Second, people are sick of V-day? Really? You have a problem with women becoming comfortable with their sexuality and finding ways to overcome/prevent violence? Shouldn't we keep going until all violence against women ends? And when the hell will that happen?

Third, and lastly, if this is bad theater, what constitutes good theater? Let's see, genuine raw language relating stories that are transformative, not only for the speaker but for the listener as well . . . Are people on here aware of the purpose of monologues?

Now, I can understand if some women are so comfortable with their sex that they just don't get these, but they should appreciate that there are other women in the world who were not raised with the same amount of honesty and information. I'm a Utah guy. It's rampant over here.

I'll insert a letter that I wrote to the person who gave this to me later. Until then, I think everyone should read this (and think about what they're saying before they review).

Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

Thank you, Secret Santa. ♥

5 It May Not Be Perfect, but it’s a start! Stars

I may not have grown up in a “down there” age, but I most definitely grew up in a “down there” house. I don’t remember ever having open dialogue with my mother about vaginas growing up, not once. Or maybe once, actually, when we discussed menstruation. This sign of womanhood that brought about nightmares of waking up in puddles of blood that could be hidden with scraps of material bunched around your underwear making you waddle like a duck or awkward looking fingers of cotton wrapped in plastic to look like candy.

So yeah, not all that much sex ed at home. And the watered down sterilization of sex at school was little more illuminating. It would be an act of violence that initiated my self-discovery as a card-carrying member of the vagina brigade.

At sixteen I hated my vagina!! It was a cause of great suffrage for me, it had never done a damn thing in my life that didn’t cause pain. From it I got humiliating blood and cramps that would knock me flat with their sharp spiking fissures of agony. And then to add insult to injury, rape. A space in my body that someone could force themselves into against my will simply because it was there. A whole new pain, not just physical but spiritual.

Years later, when I was in my mid-twenties I remember sitting in the living room with my best friend and her daughter, who was five. I remember hearing her whisper something to her daughter about going to her room if she wanted to do that and not really paying attention…. Until her daughter said, “Is it because my vagina is gross?” That got my attention. I turned my head from the book I was reading and froze, staring onto a scene that perplexed me. And her mother, my friend, said – without a bit of discomfort, “No. Your vagina is not now and will never be gross.”

And I started to silently cry as their conversation continued, and her mother explained that it was perfectly acceptable to explore her body and her vagina but that she shouldn’t do it in the living room. That if she wanted to do that she should go to her room and close the door. I looked over at this five year old and she was smiling at her mommy with wide blue eyes and rosy pink cheeks. I left the room to go wipe away the tears and came back and hugged my friend, startling her. She laughed it off when I told her how amazing of a mother she was.

But you see, I thought my vagina was gross. My whole life. Because it was a secret I couldn’t talk about. It was a cunt. It was a pussy. It was words used to describe someone who was weak and inferior…

The heart is capable of sacrifice.
So is the vagina.
The heart is capable to forgive and repair.
It can change its shape to let us in.
It can expand to let us out.
So can the vagina.
It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us
and bleed and bleed us into this difficult,
wondrous world.
So can the vagina.


I don’t know that I think vaginas are flowers or our centres, or anything like that. BUT I do think they are something we need to talk about, openly, because living in terror, disgust or simple ignorance of our own bodies is no way to live. No way at all.

Whitney Atkinson

LOVE. Wish this was longer.

Anthony Vacca

I don't really see the need for the stances of overwhelming crassness many of the reviews take against this book here on the GR. Is Ensler's collection of performance pieces the final word on feminist ideology? No, not at all. But is it a sincere work that approaches with humor and gravity the notion that especially men and especially women should view the female body outside of the bullshit male-centric, patriarchal perception that many people seem utterly oblivious to their own culpability in helping perpetuate? And by breaking out of this narrow longview of gender identity, help the reader - the female and, by extension, the male reader - learn to appreciate their own owness that is neither defined by societal expectations nor cultural pressures? Emphatically yes and yes. Besides, how can you not find joy in a work that has a section entitled "My Vagina is Angry"? The Vagina Monologues is another welcome bit of social upheaval in the never-ending, variegated discussion of gender identity.

Dixie Diamond

"I did not see my vagina as my primary resource, a place of sustenance, humor and creativity."

You know, I don't see it that way, either. I thought the source of all that was my brain.

I must not have been abused enough as a girl, because I always feel like vagina-centric art projects like this reduce me to a piece of anatomy just as much as does the alleged male fantasy of big boobs and miles of leg.

Which is not to say that there weren't/aren't some seriously screwed-up ideas about female reproductive anatomy out there, just that I think it's possible to go too far in the other direction. It's just another body part. Two arms, two legs, one vagina.

And sorry, but isn't statutory rape still statutory rape, regardless of whether the rapist is male or female?

Shannon

There's a lot to critique about this - but I really don't feel like getting into it. I will say this, though: Eve Ensler doesn't know what a vagina is. If you're unclear: a vagina is "the passage leading from the uterus to the vulva in certain female mammals". Everyone in this play says "vagina" when they really usually mean "vulva". I'm not being oddly specific, they are completely different parts of the anatomy. COME ON. Vulva is a prettier word than vagina anyway. I liked the reclaiming cunt speech. That was about it.

Aaron

While I don't necessarily disagree with Ensler's thesis, or the help the project has provided to various women's charities, the whole thing, as a literary or dramatic work, is very problematic. Anything more honest than a fawning critique reveals how shallow the whole thing is; there's hypocrisy, repetitive symbolism and metaphors, a heaping of that empty sort of communal feminism that makes everyone feel good but doesn't actually change anything, and, upon close inspection, evidence of the kind of "creative" editing that awkwardly turns the mundane things people have to say about their sex lives into what is supposed to sound like meaningful drama, but is in fact just forced. I'm sorry, but all the positive vibes of a theater full of people chanting "cunt" isn't going to make it any less awful when the same word is said by some asshole trying to hurl invective at a woman when he is just to trying to make her feel like shit.

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