GODDESSES 'R Us-OLD PRODUCT; NEW PACKAGE
PART 3 of 4
By Debra Rae
July 29, 2007
Just When You Think You've Heard It All: V-Day [Image]
Having come of age in the psychedelic sixties, I've since observed ongoing and equally dramatic shifts in cultural mores. Today's college campuses have gone the gamut since my day. For example, coed dorm rooms now are commonplace; and colleges across the nation, both "moderate" and liberal, plan to provide transgender bathrooms. When presented with a litany of options (lesbianism for one), many coeds dismiss traditional marriage as passé and motherhood as, well, simply unsustainable.
In 1998 the journal of the American Psychological Association published results of a study arguing for "adult-child sex," otherwise known as "intergenerational intimacy." At the same time, when Congress allocated funds for prosecuting rising Internet-based obscenity, college campuses welcomed first-wave performances of the Vagina Monologues ("VM" or "Monologues") by feminist playwright Eve Ensler.
Since then, the Monologues have become all the rage on campuses around the world with dozens of professors, administrators, and students participating as cast. In order to promote this Obie-winning play, women's studies representatives parade around college campuses in six-foot-tall costumes of women's private parts.
But, then, the decency bar can be lowered just so far before good folks object. A conservative student at Georgia Tech, Ruth Malhotra, for one, opposed the play's being shown each year at more than 650 American taxpayer-funded schools. Malhotra sounded the alarm testifying before the Georgia Senate, also Fox News.
For her courageous monologue, Malhotra received no pat on the back. To the contrary, making known her feminine voice met with disturbing hostility by officials at what she presumed to be a "traditional southern" college. Her efforts at challenging the ultra-feminist "Women's Resource Center" were dismissed by the school's Dean as "a joke." But Malhotra wasn't laughing.
Contemporaries threatened to throw acid on her face at graduation; and on Valentine's Day, Malhotra received a hateful note that read: "This Valentine's Day, you cannot protest the V-Monologues. It's about love, and you are about hate. No, this Valentine's Day, you will be raped … I cannot wait."
Odd, isn't it, how today's "new love" aligns itself with rape?
Taboo Toppled [Image]
In social theory, the "rise of the body" is attributed, if only in part, to the radical feminist movement of the sixties and seventies (Schilling, 2001; Bordo, 1995; Lloyd, 1999). No longer is a woman's most private part a secret taboo to be disavowed and demonized. Rather, in the world of playwright Eve Ensler, it is something to celebrate-publicly at that. This was demonstrated by some 18,500 feminists at Madison Square Garden in New York City. There, Hollywood icons led a vigorous, albeit lewd mantra by bellowing a four-letter euphemism for said part.
Ensler's "celebratory message of positive amplification" took inspiration from her early years when, as a child, she was sexually violated by her father. This regretful happening fanned a longing for Eve "to find a way back" to her private part and to make it both "visible" and "speakable." The context she had in mind was by no means clinical or within legal bonds of monogamous, heterosexual matrimony.
In attempting to "reclaim" her private part, this apparent lesbian interviewed well over two hundred women and, thereafter, developed a series of monologues based on her findings. One such monologue, I am told, is spoken by a former lawyer-turned-lesbian prostitute for women-more specifically, a sadomasochistic dominatrix-for most, hardly part of the "female experience."
Nevertheless, in their rush to publicize the gamut of "female experience" whenever, however, and wherever they'd like, activist organizations from around the world surround the Monologues. Accordingly, menstruation, masturbation, gynecological exams, and orgasms know no privacy.
A very few brainiacs pretentiously critique the VM with respect to public/private dichotomy, mind/body dualism, and hierarchical binary which devalues the body (associated with women) in favor of a good mind (considered male territory). Yet it is for good reason that, by and large, the "Monologues" evade scholarly discourse.
Monologue Madness [Image]
The New York Times once dubbed Ensler "the Messiah heralding the second wave of feminism." To my way of thinking, more accurately, the Monologues serve up a smorgasbord of smut for what correspondent Janie B. Cheaney alludes to as "tigresses in training" (World, July 2004).
One monologue entitled "The Flood" allegedly captures "mortification" felt given "the leaking, seeping, fluidity" of women's bodies (Trethewey, 1999). In "Because" [Because He Liked to Look at It], the narrator discloses her internalized hatred of patriarchal culture; and women in the "Workshop" monologue draw pictures of their private parts.
The "Anger" monologue evokes a private part's feeling when confronted with any number of possible intruders, none of which I care to mention. Personified as having a sense of humor, as well as a sense of style, a woman's most private part ponders what it would say or wear, if opportunity allowed.
It is no wonder Irene Ndaya Martine Nobote from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, was arrested for staging a production of the Monologues. In contrast, more "sophisticated" cultures, as ours, treat feminist pornography with what a trade paper for the industry calls "benign neglect." Girls will be girls, you know.
Thankfully, at least one critic gets the irony of a self-proclaimed ultra-feminist lesbian's identifying women with (and projecting personal identity to) their core private parts (McPhee, 1998). In objectifying young women and their distinctive parts, the creator of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series, porn king Joe Francis, couldn't have done a better job than Ensler has.
A traditionalist to the bones, I'm with critics who dismiss the Monologues as being "unrepeatable" (Quamme, 2001) and "downright dotty" (Spencer, 2001).
A Freebie to Forego [Image]
In a presumed act of benevolence, visionary Eve Ensler has released all royalties from her award-winning play, the Monologues, offering it free of charge to any campus or community. But with stipulation: Performers are required to maintain the "shock jock" character of the Monologues, modeling the essence of Howard Stern's "softer side"-this, by performing the Monologues in their entirety.
Every performance is a fundraiser to benefit antiviolence initiatives, effectively defying its original version which eulogizes the "good rape" of a 13-year-old girl by a 24-year-old woman who plies her with alcohol and leads her to conclude, "I'll never need to rely on a man" (Newsweek, 18 February 2002).
In the words of Phyllis Schlafly, textbooks in women's studies programs nation wide advance Ensler's worldview delegating women as victims of a male-dominated society; marriage as an "instrument of oppression"; and fathers as "foreign male elements." My vote awards the gender-studies balderdash prize to Bowdoin College in Maine. Its course in "Music and Gender" suggests that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony "models the processes of rape."
The Monologues maintain that, when women focus on their private parts and harness that energy, they are empowered to take on societal issues of abortion rights, domestic violence, welfare policy, sexual harassment, female mutilation, and rape. The "Monologues" and its companion V-Day are hailed as centerpieces of a worldwide social movement already in a collaborative race to lower age-of-consent laws that protect children from pedophiles.
To be awarded top grades in some 900 women's studies courses taught nationwide, students must tow the politically-correct line on hot-button issues as affirmative action, the glass ceiling, and partial-birth abortion. Most departments include coursework commending lesbianism, reproductive rights (i.e., legal abortion on demand, globally), and sexual freedom (Easton, Michelle, The Wall Street Journal, 28 March 1996).
So what's a girl to do with a degree in women's studies-advertise in Yellow Pages as a practicing feminist? No problem. Women's-studies majors have been taught, after all, to approach life as whining victims destined never to get a break.
Saying "Yes" to Sex [Image]
Conservative journalist Gene Edward Veith believes that, over time, Democrats have surrendered high moral ground to cynicism (World, 5 August 2005). As pointed out by Roberto Rivera of the Wilberforce Forum, "about the only ideological cause they are willing to stand for at all costs is sexual liberation." Democrats have become "the party of abortion, feminism, and homosexual rights"; and moderate Republicans are not far behind.
Sadly, "no nation can survive the corruption of its women" (Late Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth Hage). Even so, college campuses nationwide (even worldwide) put out the welcome mat for Eve Ensler's feminist production of the Monologues. Portrayed as "art," the female core body part prompts public discussion-more accurately, psycho-babble-about "amplification," "erasure," "ambivalence," and "disassociation" with intent, it would seem, to distance the Monologues from plain-and-simple pornography.
There is, on balance, a market for flesh to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, and feminist messages within the Monologues pet political-correctness. But showcasing one enthusiastic student who allegedly was inspired by the Monologues to volunteer at her local rape crisis center hardly justifies pornographic art. No matter, presidents of Boston College and Georgetown University refrained from comment when the play was staged at their respective institutions.
Veith suggests further that liberals, as these, like to shock; but they don't like to be shocked (World, 23 December 2000). When it comes to a different venue of equally provocative art, they mount their high horses. For example, indignant critics protested a display in the Ariel Rios Building in the Federal Triangle complex in Washington. Their complaint: The public, tax-supported work dared to portray Native Americans other than as victims of white oppression. Lesson learned. Pornographic art is good; politically-incorrect art, bad.
No doubt the Monologues give weight and substance to radical feminism, demanding that women's issues be integrated into local, national, and international politics-effectively at that. Convening at the highest level, the United Nations no longer views voluntary prostitution as a crime; furthermore, it recognizes as legit the North America Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). Even Britain's Labor Party advanced the first ever parliamentary performance of Ensler's play-this, while Bush and Blair were aligning for a war in Iraq. Clearly, liberal feminists understand well that saying "yes" to sex is not the same thing as saying "no" to power (Foucault, 1990). For part four click below.
© 2007 Debra Rae - All Rights Reserved
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Daughter of an Army Colonel, Debra graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa. She then completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Washington. These were followed by Bachelor of Theology and Master of Ministries degrees-both from Pacific School of Theology.
While a teacher in Kuwait, Debra undertook a three-month journey from the Persian Gulf to London by means of VW "bug"! One summer, she tutored the daughter of Kuwait's Head of Parliament while serving as superintendent of Kuwait's first Vacation Bible School.
Having authored the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural -Isms, Debra speaks to Christian and secular groups alike. Her radio spots air globally. Presently, Debra co-hosts WOMANTalk radio with Sharon Hughes and Friends, and she contributes monthly commentaries to Changing Worldviews and NewsWithViews.com. Debra calls the Pacific Northwest home.
Web Site: www.debraraebooks.com
In social theory, the "rise of the body" is attributed, if only in part, to the radical feminist movement of the sixties and seventies (Schilling, 2001; Bordo, 1995; Lloyd, 1999). No longer is a woman's most private part a secret taboo to be disavowed and demonized.