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    The Vagina Monologues (2002) – Movie Review

    By Robert L. Jones | April 5, 2003


    Why you don't see many men frequenting performances of "The Vagina Monologues"

    One reason why you don’t see many men frequenting performances of “The Vagina Monologues”

    Speaking From Her Diaphragm

    [xrr rating=1.5/5] 

    The Vagina Monologues. Featuring Eve Ensler, Steven C. Lawrence. Written and directed by Eve Ensler. (HBO/Warner Home Video, 2002, Color, 76 minutes. MPAA Rating: Unrated.)

    So, I’m in a Holiday Inn in the Boston area, and I turn on the television. Surfing the channels, on HBO I see Moe Howard from the Three Stooges talking about his vagina and some earth-shattering orgasm he’s gotten.

    Moe has a vagina?” I ask myself in bewilderment, scratching my head. Then, I look closer. “Hold on there just one second, I don’t think that’s Moe!” I say to myself. “This guy’s voice is almost half an octave higher than Moe’s.”

    Then it hits me: It ain’t a guy at all, but this incredibly butch woman.

    Then, like a ray of light gleaming from the reflection off pond scum, it dawns on me: “You know what? That’s not Moe Howard! That’s Eve Ensler, and this is that Vagina Monologues soliloquy I’ve heard so much about!”

    The Vagina Monologues is the brainchild of said Ms. Ensler, and has captivated women across America during the past few years. Yet, the mystery always remained front-and-center in my brain: Why is this play so exclusively popular among women? I mean, I’m a man, and there’s nothing I’d love to do than hear a chick talk about her love hole for two solid hours. The eternal argument goes on among us males: Are you a leg man, or a breast man? And my reply has been, as always: “To hell with that! I’m a vagina man!!!” (The rest is icing on the cake, or rather, pie.)

    So, you’d think I would have been ripe for marketing as the target audience. But, alas, gaining admittance to this show requires all the feminine wiles I’m so sorely lacking: Empathy, telepathy, “getting” Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and knowing the secret handshake to the “Hillary Rodham Clinton Girls Only Treehouse.”

    Now, being the sexist Neanderthal male I am, maybe I’d be more appreciative if one of the play’s comelier leading ladies like Phylicia Rashad, Sandra Oh, or Donna Hanover (née Giuliani) were performing, but watching Eve (who could never for a moment be confused with that Biblical temptress of the same name, or Anne Baxter’s defining role) prattle on and on about her vagina, as though she were spouting wisdom from Mount Sinai made me realize that P.T. Barnum was absolutely dead-on when he said, “what people want to see most is a freak show.”

    Every few minutes, the camera pans or cuts to audience reaction, and there’s a crowd of equally homely, middle-aged, mostly WASP women hootin’ and hollerin’. They’re the target audience of this harangue, all those uptight and upright women for whom Eve is some kind of liberating goddess. (“Yes, ladies, you too can be comfortable talking about your vaginas because Eve has made it okay!”)

    Hold on just a second there, where did I see this wolfpack before? Oh, my sweet Lord Jesus and Virgin Mary, these skanks are the same crusty old maids and matrons that sat stiffly in my old Methodist Church and taught Sunday school while I was growing up in that Godforsaken hell-hole in West Virginia! Mother of Mercy Almighty, that really ugly one with the Witchy-Poo hair and TV set glasses, wasn’t she the one who told me I’d go to hell if I kept playing footsie with Kelly Rittenauer during confirmation classes?!?

    All the rest of this one-woman(?)-show was more of the same: Eve speaking in hushed tones that build to an (orgasmic) crescendo worthy of Maya Angelou, as though we were hearing Moses reading the Ten Commandments tablets for the first time. I found out a lot of amazing things from this video: Women are sexually different than men. Women are “victims,” victimized by (you guessed it) men. Women know more about their “needs” than men do. (Recognize the pattern here? Men bad). Despite their physical absence in this screed of a play, Men play the heavy with little subtlety and lots of dangerous testosterone. Imagine Edward G. Robinson or Jimmy Cagney inciting a mob to use a battering ram to bust down Eve Ensler’s…. On second thought, don’t imagine it.

    Then we come to the play’s greatest revelation. Dear readers, I want you all to stop whatever distracting activity you’re engaged in and give me your undivided attention. That’s right: Put out that cigar, put down that rolling pin, and glue your eyes to this page, ‘cause I’m only going to tell you this once.

    Get this: We come into the world by coming out of a woman’s ……….vagina! Really, folks, I’m not making this up!

    My favorite bit was when Eve was getting really deep and philosophical, with her secret girl talk about how all women have needs, despite the taboos society place upon women. About how, in our youth culture, it’s thought of as imprudent and gross to talk about, say, old ladies’ vaginas, you know, like your great aunt’s. As an antidote to this stiff prudery, Ensler recommends talking openly with the graying matriarchs in your family about their vaginas and “needs.”

    Listen: It’s scary enough thinking about my parents having sex without having to hypothesize about what it would be like if my grandparents were doing the dirty deed.

    I can just imagine myself regressing back to those halcyon days of my youth. I’m nine years old again, and visiting my grandma’s house:

    “Hi grandma, what’s going on?”

    She pats me on the head, and leads me over to the kitchen windowsill, where a blackberry cobbler is cooling. “I’m just fine, hon’,” she says, warm as the cobbler. “How are you doing?”

    “Oh, I guess I’m alright…. Grandma, just because I care about you so much, how’s your vagina doing?”

    “I beg your pardon, young man?”

    “I said, ‘Grandma, how’s your vagina been doing?’ Is Grandpa taking care to give your little kitty the TLC and foreplay you still need to feel like a woman?”


    “No, really, grandma, I just wanted you to feel empowered to talk openly and freely about you vag—”

    Then, I envision her chasing after me with a switch, and hauling my ass over to the bathroom sink to wash my mouth out with soap. I can see my mom and dad giving me the third degree and sending me to some head-shrinker to find out why, in the name of all that is Decent and Right and Holy, that I am not only talking to one of my elders about her vagina, but even thinking about it.

    But, even that’s one of this video’s lesser flaws.

    The one major problem with it is this: It stars Eve Ensler.

    By dint of that fact, the audience is confined to the narrow demographic of naive schoolmarms, frustrated librarians, Planned Parenthood volunteers, Wiccan broom riders, Lileth Faire groupies, Frida Kahlo wannabes, and NOW members.

    Being a guy, and a photographer by trade, I tend to pre-visualize things in my mind, using the Ansel Adams method. And, if I might add, watching and listening to Eve Ensler go on and on about her vagina forms these images in my head of….

….what Eve Ensler’s vagina must look like.

    I won’t proceed down this road better not taken any further. Suffice it to say that this video is enough to drive even the most vagina-obsessed satyr to homosexuality.

    If there is one moral to this bizarre gabfest, it is this: Clam up all the talk about your clams, ladies! Come on, I mean, really now. Apparently, Ms. Ensler’s “play” is being performed at college campuses across the United States, and earlier this year was staged in a high school in Amherst, Massachusetts.

    I know that we live in an age of “diversity” and “tolerance,” but am I the only one out there who thinks the adults who encouraged and let this play be produced in a high school by minors are sick, disgusting perverts whom any parent with half a brain would shield their children from?

    “Ladies,” here’s a little advice from a man who’s been around: When you take the mystery out of sex by wearing buttons that say “I Love My Vagina” in public, you are not attractive, sexy, or profound. You come off as disturbed, narcissistic and incredibly shallow. If you really think about it, Paris Hilton is just Eve Ensler with a lower I.Q.

    Leave porn to the professionals. And, for God’s sake, please return the theatre to the masters of the craft, such as Chekhov, Ibsen and Mel Brooks.

    Topics: Made for Cable, Movie Reviews, Spoken Word | Comments Off on The Vagina Monologues (2002) – Movie Review