Dialogue with a Vagina Monologue (Chapter III)
Harry Potter’s pubic goes public and a white guy in Chicago is angry about it, although we are not sure why. But the media frenzy suggests he is not alone. Elsewhere Tboy is asking for the girl’s name for the boy’s name of that which is unnamable on a 17-year-old.
Daniel Radcliffe will shed his child actor image with his clothes for his West End stage debut. Sixty people from the audience will actually be seated on stage when the Harry Potter star, in his role as the troubled groomsman Alan Strang in Peter Shaffer’s celebrated play Equus, simulates a sex act while naked and astride a horse. The play is about a boy who blinded six horses with a groomsman’s spike, so even though it opens for previews in mid-February, it’s probably not the best night out with your Valentine. The story centers on a psychiatrist discovering the forces that drove the boy to harm the horses, and follows an intriguing discourse on myth, religion, and sexual awakening. The main argument becomes whether psychological healing will do the teenage boy more harm than good.â€œPassion, you see,can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created.â€
I have been reading Germaine Greer’s beautiful book, The Beautiful Boy. I say reading, but it’s more like studying; the book is laden with full color reproductions of art and evocative photos as it documents “the boy” evolving through Western history.
Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) The Disarming of Cupid
Through this study I am beginning to understand the necessity of V-Day to exclude “the boys” from its Worldwide Celebration, except in supporting roles. I am also understanding better V-Day’s direct competition with Valentine’s Day. Cupid, that cute little sexless cherub we have as mascot, has a much more storied history in mayhem.
“Cupid, with his bow and fiery arrows, is always male and always immature. He is male because he is the aggressor: in no myth does Cupid play a passive role. He is a boy because a boy is more sexually active than a man, has more erections, produces more sperm and ejaculates more often. If society provides no legitimate outlet for boys’ sexuality it will be expressed in ways that are chaotic and destructive. Therefore Cupid is both blindfolded and in charge of a lethal weapon. His arrows infect individuals with with infatuation and sexual obsession, bringing havoc and anguish, disrupting friendships, households and the state.”
Cupid, as this beastie boy, would always fight for his right to party. This party animal would be exactly the wrong element to inject into the more serious V-Day celebrations. I think V-Day’s vision is that matriarchy would serve the world at large better than patriarchy. Boys being being boys, they would fuck that vision up big time.
Germaine Greer acted in a 2002 V-Day production of the Vagina Monologues, but she is no fan of the script or the event. “This V-word is no victory for women.” She seemed most annoyed that Eve Ensler did not chose one of the more inclusive words like “pussy” or “snatch” in naming the monologues, and points out that vagina is from Latin root meaning “sword-sheath.”
There is more to the female sex than accommodation of a male weapon, and much more to female sexual apparatus than a hole. Having decided to focus on the hole rather than the doughnut, as it were, Ensler happily disappears up it. These days, she is apt to talk of herself as living in her vagina, as if she had transformed herself into the sword, turning herself inside out in an orgy of inverted penis-envy.
In Greer’s short essay, Eternal war: Strindberg’s view of sex, she eulogizes theatreâ€™s most famous misogynist. She sees him as a true male feminist contrasting him with contemporary pseudo male feminists who having
successfully trivialized the question of male-female hostility in their own cases, they are quick to denounce the more perspicacious men who have glimpsed the archetypal conflict in all its terrible grandeur.
Greer positions Strindberg as a feminist because he examines the sexual conflict not as trivial or peripheral question but as something radical, tragic, and overwhelming. The implacable eternal war.
Strindberg understood that that expression of radical enmity between men and women in social and political action would have appalling consequencesâ€¦. he embodied his vision of internecine sexual war in archetypes so simple that they could appear preposterous or simply perverse.
V-Day’s mission proclaims Valentineâ€™s Day as V-Day until the violence stops. In appropriating “the couple’s” holy-day, and excluding the boys, they have created a meta-theatrical version of Aristophanes’ anti-war comedy Lysistrata.
Ephemeral as all theatre is, the Lysistrata Project came and went in 2003. And as “cock-eyed” as Germaine Greer sees the Vagina Monologues and V-Day, the Lysistrata Project was even more so. Their call-to-arms in soliciting readings and productions was “Become a Lysitrata Spearhead!”
â€¦to be continued.
Chapter IV: Lupercalia and Women Who Run with the Wolves
2 thoughts on “Dialogue with a Vagina Monologue (Chapter III)”
i really enjoyed this post and wish i could say more than that but i just shot my wad over on theaterboy.net on this same topic.
i will say that i think the vagina monologues themselves are not worth heavy dissection either as Art or as Feminist Theory–it’s really neither, just a fundraising machine. (and i’m directing one production of it and producing another. AND my adaptation of The Rape of Lucrece opens in a week here in DC, so there’s that.) for me the ultimate goal would be for men and women to collaborate on UNDERSTANDING sexual violence more than STOPPING it through theatre and literature. i don’t think we can ever stop it, but we might be able to control it better if we understood it.
i think you’ve turned me into an activist against my better judgment. thanks!
Thanks, Spinster, for taking time to comment over here at Rat Sass. I have been following your comments and others’ at Tboy; itâ€™s really valuable to hear a perspective from within the machine. But Iâ€™ll argue somewhat with your notion that TVM is not worthy of dissection as art or feminist theory.
I think you are correct in classifying TVM (but only in its V-Day manifestations) as fundraising machine. We can distinguish these special royalty-free V-Day productions from other productions of the play.
I think that as fundraising theatre event for feminist social action, TVM could almost be seen as exemplar of Brechtian theatre.
What kind of actor do you attempt to cast in Brechtian theatre? There should be a unique gauge for talent in such casting. Looking at the Vulva Choir we would surmise that the prime attribute for membership is â€œcelebrity.â€ I imagine local producers of V-Day productions also cast TVM with celebrity as a principal criterion.
Story more than character is important in TVM. Oprah and Jane Fonda are both actors, each with some ability to inhabit character roles, but TVM will primarily use their talents as celebrity, feminist, and storyteller in creating its theatre. Never once does the audience forget that it is Oprah and Jane on stage.
I would agree with you that when TVM is produced outside of V-Day’s Worldwide Campaign, it loses most of its value as art and feminist theory. It had its day as that a decade ago when Eve Ensler performed it solo. One would need a radical approach and exploration of the text (document) to reinvent that value again. Thatâ€™s why I am game for the proposal you presented over at Tboy. Iâ€™m in Brooklyn but Iâ€™d definitely be down for a ride to DC for the day to play with you. I realize you and Kathleen A. are at odds here on a public exploration, but it would be interesting if the two of you actualized your arguments in a private reading/discussion with a group of â€œcollaboratorsâ€ (full definition). Soapstone, a theatre I know in SF, began as documentary theatre of victims of violence. They then went into prisons to work with perpetrators of violence, realizing that the perpetrators often were also victims. Soapstone is a much more frightening and amazing exploration than is being proposed here, but offers an interesting parallel I think.
Lucky Spinster said:
â€œi think it’d be a really cool experiment for some of us to gather a dozen or so gents and have a private reading just to see what the effect would be. it’d have to be a sooper-secret, knock-three-times-at-the-window, say “the monkey ate the chicken” kind of thing to get in the door and we’d probably get spanked by eve herself for doing it but…anyone game?
rather than argue for men to be able to perform in them for real, why not create a new, more interesting piece of art that tackles issues of sexual violence in a less precious and didactic way.â€
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