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Monday, August 30, 2004

Defending "The Vagina Monologues"

New blogroll member Thisgirl has a post defending "The Vagina Monologues" against perpetual whiner Christina Hoff Sommers. Once again, Sommers has decided that any type of female empowerment comes at too great a cost to men and therefore should be discarded. Thisgirl takes her on very well--go read it.

I liked "The Vagina Monologues", and I'm usually one to avoid anything that smacks of New Age-y celebrations of femininity, blah blah. It wasn't that at all; it was funny and sad and amazing. It actually did give voice to different women and their experiences, which can be a very difficult thing to do, as there are always a passel of Sommers-types lurking who can't wait to freak out if a woman's honest recounting of her life might not completely revolve around men and making them feel important.

I have yet to read a negative review of "The Vagina Monologues" that wasn't based around disgust with the idea that there is a need to reconsider how the vagina is viewed in our culture--as a repository is pretty much the beginning and end of it for most people. Sommers clearly thinks there's something dirty about vaginas, and that it's creepy for women to be proud of theirs or anyone, male or female, to actually think they are pretty or neat or whatever. Sommers actually has the gall to say that men are not similiarly obsessed with their penises--apparently she's never been to D.C. and checked out the Washington Memorial. It's true that most men don't use a hand-held mirror to look at their own private parts. That's because they have the sort of private parts that can be examined just by looking down or by standing in front of a larger mirror.

Sommers seems to think that being proud of one's vagina somehow precludes having a good career or accomplishing other goals.

Empowerment is not staring at your vagina in the mirror and weeping or exulting. It’s writing a great essay, running a marathon, starting a successful business, or being a great mother.

Again, I'm not sure if Sommers knows much about the men she's constantly defending, since she doesn't seem to be aware that even very successful men are prone to spending time considering their penises. If it doesn't hurt them, why would it hurt women? Unless of course there's something good and right about thinking about penises, but something dirty and wrong about vaginas, that is.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christina Hoff Sommers is indeed a "perpetual whiner." How exactly is it "anti-male" to admit that violence plays a large role in many women's experiences with sexuality? It's the truth--but oh, right, any woman whose experiences don't tally with Sommers's must be a silly Dworkin-brainwashed harpy.

I have particularly major beef with Sommers because in her ridiculous "Who Stole Feminism?", she screeches about how Mary Koss's "one in four women have been raped" statistic is inaccurate, and claims that it's actually one in nine, when a) Koss isn't the only source for the one in four statistic, 2) based on Sommers's sources and logic, it should actually be one in FIVE--a big error for someone who spends almost an entire book criticizing statistics, and 3) are we actually going to worry less about violence because it's one in 9 rather than 4? Whatever.

I was especially pissed off by her dismissal of all the college women who found the Vagina Monologues empowering. Um, Christina? If a lot of people like something you don't, it might not mean there's something wrong with *them,* y'know? What a condescending bizzotch.



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