REVIEW: The Vagina Monologues

By the start of Saturday’s show, the Vagina Monologues had raised over $2,500 for Safe House, which was wonderful to hear. There were far more women than men in the audience–either it was the subject material, or maybe it was because the men were too busy watching the latest NCAA Tournament game.

The show was split into two halves: the first half consisted of students on campus telling their stories, and the second half a rendition of Eve Ensler’s play of the same name. Out of respect for the women in the first half, I won’t post any quotes or pictures. Instead, a checklist of things I gathered:

  1. Found out what the clitoris is
  2. That virginity is a social construct meant to control women
  3. PCOS (polycistic ovary syndrome) makes you have irregular periods, and makes it really hard to lose weight
  4. There is a huge lack of women and diversity in Hollywood (duh)
  5. Don’t spray perfume up your vagina!
  6. Just because you enjoy Anime doesn’t mean you have yellow fever (probably)
  7. Don’t hook up with girls and then refuse to date them
  8. Don’t refuse to take girls out to eat, but then offer to eat them out later
  9. No means no.

The second half–Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues–was in a way more concise than the previous monologues. This was partly due to the fact that each monologue was actually from a compendium of interviews Ms. Ensler had conducted with over 200 women in preparation for the play.

Some stories were raunchier than others, some were funny and some were so serious that the Rackham Amphitheater got so quiet you could hear the breaths of the people in the audience.

One women said the word cunt, and then kept repeating cunt, as well as words that were related and/or sounded like cunt.

Another woman was obsessed with making other women happy, so she stopped being a lawyer to become a sex worker that worked only for women. She was a dominatrix that loved hearing women moan, and the audience received quite the description of the different moans she had heard from various women.

There was only one moment when I felt the urge to “man-splain” something. Regarding Pap smears, one woman wondered aloud why she had to wear a papery apron instead of a velvet robe, and why they used such uncomfortable instruments rather than something else more pleasurable. If Pap smears were like that, the hospital bill would probably be a lot higher than it currently is for the procedure. But alas, I am a graduate student in a physiology program, so medical things stand out to me.

Overall, the Vagina Monologues is a worthwhile event to go to, especially if you are a man. Although not as provocative as it might have been in a more conservative town, the Vagina Monologues is still a raunchy, R-rated show that can help you expand your horizons if you let it.



Published by

Phillip Wachowiak

I am a graduate student studying physiology. In addition to science, I love to do things with cameras

3 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Vagina Monologues”

  1. Dear Phillip,

    As the director of this show, I’ll admit I am a little bit biased, but I find this review completely unprofessional. I’m surprised that Arts at Michigan published this. Congratulations for oversimplifying the heartfelt (and, yes, often angry) monologues written by students at this school. This show was supposed to be a space where these students could be heard on issues that are often trivialized or ignored. Instead of respecting their experiences, you have continued to trivialize them. Maybe consider that this show wasn’t simply here to teach you some new fun facts to make a listicle out of.

    Also, I like that you had to make the distinction that a professionally written and edited show was more well-written than a collection of student-written pieces. I hope your ego benefitted from that.

    Clare Fairbanks

  2. I was visiting the campus for spring break when I saw the Vagina Monologue. I thought it was wonderful. The pre-show added a delightful spin to it, since it was written by people on campus and made everything far more personal.

    The director got on the stage and asked that you do not share the pre-show unless you got express permission from the ones who wrote those poems. I hope you did.

    You summarized the poems and performances to the bare minimum–you attended the shows, you heard the words they said, and you took little snippets to write down for your review, but it appears that you did not listen. The meaning of all the poems went over your head. You only managed to grasp on to the words they said.

    The reason I say this, is because you disregarded several of the messages of the wonderful women that took the stage, and paraphrased their words, but not their messages.

    “- Don’t hook up with girls and then refuse to date them.”
    That poem in particular was based on the struggle of women of color and how men would rather have sex with them than date them. It wasn’t about wanting the men they had sex with to date them.

    “Two hands and a clitoris is all you need to pleasure yourself (if you’re a woman).”
    You almost directly quoted the girl who wrote that poem, but the little thing you added (“if you’re a woman”) makes it seems as though you have forgotten all the transgender women who stood on stage. The women who learned to love themselves without a vagina, who learned to love themselves more with a vagina. A woman is not defined by their parts. That was one of the big messages as well.

    And the part that you felt like “mansplaining”? It truly would have been mansplaining, because it was not something you understood at all. She was not literally asking why the gynecologist’s office was not adorned in silk and why she wasn’t treated like a queen. It was a poem! It was a metaphor on how clinical taking care of the vagina, her womanhood, is. A question posed on why things can’t be gentler on the vagina. An exaggeration on how much more comforting it could be. A hundred interpretations that you could have appreciated, but you chose to look at its surface value?

    They were poems–words written to explore the heart and the soul and sometimes not even real experiences. The meaning beneath them are not literal, and you took it far too literally.

    “The Vagina Monologues is still a raunchy, R-rated show that can help you expand your horizons if you let it.”

    It wasn’t a show trying to be raunchy, to be shocking. It was a show about women and you reduced it to sex, vaginas, a shocker for people (“especially if your a man”) to listen to. Yes, it could have expanded your horizons and your mind if you let it, but it doesn’t seem like you let it expand yours at all.

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