An annual Valentine’s Day performance of feminist opus The Vagina Monologues has been discontinued at Mount Holyoke College because it lacks inclusiveness for transgender students.
Mount Holyoke is an all-women’s liberal arts school in Massachusetts that recently announced that it will begin admitting male applicants who identify as female.
According to the Daily Beast, the play has been “embraced for years by gender studies departments as the Holy Grail of feminism.” It is ordinarily performed at colleges and other venues in the U.S. and across the world on Valentine’s Day “to raise awareness of gender-based violence.”
A representative of the student-run theater board at Mount Holyoke, however, seemed to suggest in an email sent to the campus community — and using much more lofty terminology — that the play is no longer even politically correct enough for campus feminists, Campus Reform reported, because a vagina is a prerequisite.
“At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman… Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”
The email also questioned the play’s treatment of race, class, and homosexuality.
The student group plans to put on its own play that addresses the problems that it perceives in the content of The Vagina Monologues.
Writing in Time, author Eve Ensler expressed surprise at the action taken at Mount Holyoke College, and insisted her play is still relevant.
… The Vagina Monologues never intended to be a play about what it means to be a woman. It is and always has been a play about what it means to have a vagina. In the play, I never defined a woman as a person with a vagina… We need to create a loving space for people with vaginas, and women without them, to address our oppressions, desires, and secrets and to simultaneously honor the fact that gender is not based on anatomy or genitalia…”
Mount Holyoke College released a statement that underscored that the cancellation was a student-led decision.
“The Mount Holyoke College student organization Project: Theatre notified the student body on Jan. 14 of its decision to cancel the play ‘Vagina Monologues’ after evaluating input from peers about the production. The students’ decision to cancel the play was made independently of the College’s transgender admission policy…”
[image credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism]