On the All-Male Monologue
The U-M production of the Vagina Monologues is coming up – the two performances are scheduled for 2:00 and 7:30 PM on Sunday, February 15. I have attended this production each year I’ve been a student here at Michigan and each time the quality of the production is superb. I anticipate this year’s will be no different, and I encourage all that are able to attend. That said, there has been much discussion around campus about the so-called “male monologue.” The students putting on this year’s production have decided to script and include along with Eve Ensler’s monologues a monologue written and performed by men.
I think this is a bad idea, for a couple reasons. First, in my opinion including men on-stage violates the premise of the production. The show’s power derives from the fact it breaks taboos constructed by a patriarchal society where men frequently and casually discuss their penises, but where the vagina is somehow something secret, dirty, and undiscussed. Since the show is about women and women’s bodies, I see no reason why men should be included – the mainstream discourse on sexuality is already dominated by men, and the point of Eve Ensler’s production is to clear a little space where women can have the floor, if only for one night. Second, including a monologue not written by Ensler seems to violate the artistic integrity of the work – the rest are drawn from her work, based on interviews with hundreds of women, and to include a new male-authored monologue, no matter how well intentioned, would deviate from that vision.