Well, the Vagina Monologues is no more. Its sexual politics no longer are inclusive enough. So after a run of nineteeen straight years—as Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes in Reason (here)—Mt. Holyoke College has canceled the play on the grounds that it excludes women without vaginas. The peculiar phrase “women without vaginas” is meant to include both women without vaginas and men who think they’re women. Ms. Brown explains all this for us.
[S]ome trans individuals identify and live as a different gender than they were born without getting genital reconstructive surgery. Ergo, a trans woman is a woman, full stop, but she may have a penis.
So what are we to conclude from all this? Glad you asked. We are to conclude that the Vagina Monologues is, in the words of one Mt. Holyoke student, “blatantly transphobic.” Another, Erin Murphy, faults the play for its “extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.”
Now, there are two things that interest me about all this. The first is that it is an instance of reaching the right conclusion through the wrong logic. Eve Ensler’s play is “an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.” But that is not because it somehow “excludes” women without vaginas and men who think they are women. Instead, it is “narrow” because women are not to be reduced to nothing more than the sum of their sexual organs. The spectacle of actors dressing up in vagina suits and engaging in monologues is degrading to the humanity of women. The irony is that all this is done is in the name of “feminism.”
Thus Ms. Brown’s defense of the Monologues only serves to reinforce the unwitting sexism.
I am a woman with a vagina, and this becomes an area of my concern when people start saying that I shouldn’t reference or acknowlege that. … There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to stage a women’s show that includes trans perspectives (on genitals or whatever else), but that doesn’t make a show without those perspectives transphobic. It just makes it a show without those perspectives.
Her solution, in other words—since no play can include all “perspectives” that men have under the sun—is for someone to write a new play, with a title along the lines of The Trans-Vagina Monologues. Yes, how lovely. Thus we continue to reduce human beings to (a) the sex parts they do have; or, (b) the “gender” with which they “identify.” (It is, by the way, a whole nother blog post, this issue of how the word “gender” has been abused to support a fictional construct.)
The second thing that interests me in this whole story is the timing of the ban. It comes nearly on the heels of the suicide of Josh Alcorn. (And for the record, that was his name, and he was a he. I refuse to call him “Leelah,” and I refuse to call him “she.” Those are lies, and on this blog I do not tell lies. The truth must be told somewhere, and I don’t see very many other places where he is given the dignity of being called he.)
You might say, in the sense of a figure, that Josh Alcorn banned the Vagina Monologues. The ban really stems from the mad desire of some to use his suicide in order impose and enforce a new propaganda about sexual identity.
And at the back of it all are a whole host of new lies. It is not enough, any more, in the twenty teens, to reduce women to their body parts. We must reduce people in general to the “gender” they “identify” with, independent of whether that matches the 23rd pair of chromosomes, or what you stare at when you glance between your legs. These days, if you say “women are their vaginas,” you leave out men who think they are women and don’t have vaginas but instead some amorphous “identity” that can’t be pinned down to anything other than self-made illusions. One’s very self—the essence of who one is—is now no more than a construct.
Josh Alcorn’s suicide is indeed a tragedy. It is a tragedy when someone kills himself because he will not accept who God made him to be—a man. It is surreal when a whole culture can then call him “Leelah” and “her”—trading the truth for a lie (cf. Rom. 1:25). And then they demand that the whole world affirm them in their game of make believe. The very language is being wrung out of shape in order to support these false constructs. If a culture cannot last long when it demands make-believe, neither can humanity last long when we make up our identities, rather than accept who God has made us to be.
And with regard to the case at hand, we miss what the real problem with the Vagina Monologues is—that it lies about female personhood. We merely exchange that lie for a lie about human personhood.
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