Thursday, July 28th, 2005 • 4 Comments on Have You Hugged Your Vagina Today?
I had more to say than usual in class tonight. I might venture so far as to say I may have said too much because my professor and classmates now have a whole new view of me. I am not, despite what you might think as you read my semi-coherent ramblings here, a chatty person in a classroom setting. I tend to prefer to listen, observe and absorb. Occasionally, I will offer my opinion, but only when I feel I have something of value to contribute. I don’t speak to hear the sound of my own voice, but tonight I had some things to say and I spoke up. Loudly.
The book under discussion was Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Having written my share of literature on the topic in addition to being a proud owner and operator of a vagina, I felt somewhat qualified to offer my opinion on Ensler’s play. In the course of things, I outed myself as a writer of erotica. Those of you who only know me from my writing, or have only known me for the past few years, might not be all that surprised since I make no secret of what I write and don’t use a pseudonym. But there’s a difference between writing about it and talking about it and a big leap from telling close friends to announcing it to a classroom. It was an interesting out-of-body moment of self-awareness.
The question that got me started talking (and still has me thinking) tonight was, “Is
The Vagina Monologues
radical?” I had much to say on the subject, but my basic point was that as long as there are girls/women (and boys/men) who are afraid of and embarrased to say the word “vagina,” as long as there are teenage girls (and, yes, adult women) getting pregnant without really understanding the mechanics of why and how, as long as there are teenagers who think oral and anal sex do not constitute “real” sex (and who would have thought the words “anal sex” would come out of my mouth in a room full of strangers?), then Ensler’s work is radical.
This isn’t to say that I think Eve Ensler got it all right. I have respect for her work for the good it has done, but I think she takes the woman-as-victim theme to an extreme. Women need to understand their sexuality empowers them, not enslaves them. Sexual empowerment is a difficult thing to explain to girls who have sex to keep boyfriends or women who have children but not orgasms. Empowerment isn’t always about saying “yes” to sex—empowerment also means being able to say “no,” too. Having a vagina doesn’t mean a woman is a goddess, but it also doesn’t mean she is a victim.
I have a lot of strong feelings on the topic of women and sexuality. (Go figure, right?) I’ve been going back and forth over whether to do a graduate thesis because it’s not a requirement for the M.A. in Humanities program. A thesis is a lot of research and writing, which I actually enjoy. The reason I keep waffling is because there’s also the minor (terrifying) detail of having to defend it orally. But I’m starting to think if I can talk about sex in a classroom of strangers without stammering or blushing, then maybe I can write and defend a thesis on a subject I’m very passionate about.