Vagina, Vagina, Vagina. . .

The Vagina Monologues  has been a controversial play since it was first released in 1996.  Many conservative Christians and a number of feminist movements are just a few of the groups that criticize the content of the script.  Although each has had its own reasons for feeling frustration with the show, it would be difficult to deny that the seventy-five million dollars donated to charities and organizations is entirely bad.

Volunteer State Community College faced this controversy in February of 2005, when they decided to allow a performance of the play to bring attention to abuse and crimes against women.  After complaints, the president modified the title on the marquee from The Vagina Monologues to the V-Monologues.  This created a small firestorm that resulted in six students exercising their right to free speech by wearing shirts spelling out V-A-G-I-N-A underneath the cleaned up sign.  Just like the play, the controversy was effective in attracting attention.  The school raised over $1200 dollars for a local shelter for battered women.

Personally, I think the content is tasteless.  I have a problem with the gratuitous profanity.  It reminds me of comedic acts in the 1980s, such as Andrew Dice Clay, Howard Stern, and Eddy Murphy, who all used vulgarity as comedy because of the shock value.  It serves its purpose, but I believe it dumbs down the listener.  Instead of using thought provoking devices, it uses the awkwardness of foul language and crude humor to bombard the audience into laughing.  This is similar to a sitcom mindset.  Say a bad word, get a laugh.

Nor do I support the use of humor to bring attention to actions as horrific as molestation, rape, pedophilia, and abuse.  In my not so humble opinion these topics could be addressed in an equally effective manner without the comic relief.  It undermines the seriousness of these offences.  I would propose that other methods could have been employed to bring more attention to the cause, and been every bit as successful in generating financial support for these organizations.

However, regardless of my opinions, the show has proven to be a tool for change.  This makes the concept worth considering.  If you want to draw a crowd, do something gimmicky and you will usually see results.  This is a challenge for a good leader.  Do you go with the most shocking method for the immediate attention drawn to your cause? Or do you look for an alternative that might require more creativity and therefore sacrifice your time and energy?

The chances are. . . We will never know.


  1. admin says:

    Since I wrote this article, I have received revised dollar amounts. The Vagina Monologes have now generated over 80 MILLION dollars for charity. Impressive.