Thursday, December 4, 2008

V-Day / Vagina Monologues

Last night (okay, it was 6 pm) I went to the Women's Center on campus to attend an information session on V-Day, which will be in February, and include, inter alia, three performances ov Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. I was one of two men in the room, amongst, I'd say, twenty-something women.

I wasn't sure at first in what capacity I would like to join the effort, but I did know that I wanted to somehow be involved. After all, how could I not partake in an enterprise that stands for empowerment of a grossly underrepresented group? All the things I've ever done in the name of LGBT rights, Palestinian rights, workers' rights, and so forth, have been intertwined in my mind. I even recall one time when I marched in Philadelphia with a group of Palestinians who were protesting the Israeli occupation. A few minutes into the march, I realized I was in the posterior half of the crowd, surrounded by women; all the men had been marching in the front. I didn't like the idea, but I stuck with it and kept marching with the women, despite repeated pleas from one of the (male) ushers that I march with the men instead.

For these and other reasons - perhaps a guy feeling above all - I was taken aback when the organizers of V-Day at F&M announced last night that the Vagina Monologues auditions were open to women only. I wouldn't have been able to participate anyway, because it was also restricted to students, which I totally respect. I also understand where the insistence on having women only in the show ("after all, it's the Vagina monologues," one organizer said), but I generally dislike enterprises that limit participation to certain groups and exclude others. Oh, by the way, men are allowed to have all sorts of "behind the scenes" roles, such as sit on committees, do the lights and sounds on the show - just not be on stage talking about their non-existent vagina.

I would not like to be part of events or groups for gays only, or for Israelis only, or for that matter, for men only. I decided to keep my mouth shut. But I really wanted to ask them whether transgenders and transsexuals - both MTF and FTM - could participate. These are people who either have vaginas but want to replace them with penises (and some have actually done so) or want badly to have a vagina, but may not be able to afford the expensive gender reassignment surgery to obtain one. And besides, is this really about the physical vagina? Or are we talking about the vagina as a symbol. 

The more I think of it, the more I think I should have spoken up. But I also value my own restraint. Because after all, I'd be seen as another man who wants to take control over women. So I erred on the side of caution. But I also wrote this entry for the sake of venting. And seeking y'all's input.



  1. Hello there, I found your blog through Maryam's and I wanted to say, I feel you. I've had plenty of images in my mind performing a piece from the Vagina Monologues , but since I'm male, that was never gonna happen. =(. But i was lucky. Two years ago when I was attending F&M (now i'm at Hunter College) I was part of the Step Team. They were ask to perform for the Opening night intermission. I was the only Male performer. It felt nice. I'm not sure weather or not it was a mistake, but no one had a problem with it. hehe.

  2. Interesting. So you've transfered from F&M to Hunter? I say "interesting", because Maryam and I were just thinking out loud today about how different the two places seem to be, just from listening to each other's stories. But you've got the inside scoop from both! Lucky(?) you...

  3. Definately lucky. A feel an ever so tiny jolt of satisfaction when I've discovered those connections. F&M was an interesting expierence for me. I met great people, but it just wasn't the place for me. However I pray/hope/know your expierence is different from mine.


הארץ Haaretz

العربية.نت | آخر الأخبار Al-Arabiya