Vagina Monologues part 2a
In part one, the introduction, i outlined why i want to do this series. To recap (in part):
What i want to do with this series” comprises two main ideas:
1) Discuss female genitals and thereby challenge/attempt to dissemble the phallocratic structure of taboo that surrounds them;
2) Challenge what i see as a reactionary ‘vulvocentric’ school of feminism in which the vagina (and its environs, but the vagina in particular) is seen as sacrosanct above the woman, as entirely central to feminism and femininity (and if not central then at least still inextricably wrapped up in feminist thought) and as the core of what is to be a woman.
Time and again I’ve read or heard or seen or otherwise witnessed within feminism a worrying obsessing with the vagina/vulva/pudenda; a transformation from biologgy to idolatry. I cannot make this any clearer: the vulva is not a metonym for womanhood. The vulva is not synonymous with femininity. Women are not their vaginas.
I think it’s a fairly academic point. And yet…
- Too many feminists place the vagina at the centre of their value system. It’s one thing to be proud of one’s cunt, and i’m not knocking that at all, but having a cunt or not doesn’t decide whether one’s a woman or not and, moreover, does not demarcate what feminism is or isn’t, where is does or does not apply or who can or cannot understand/benefit from it. Cunt ≠ woman.
- Too many feminists view the vagina as the nexus of female sexuality. This is a) not true (though not necessarily false; human sexuality is as varied and individual as DNA); and b)alienating for those women do not have vaginas. Two good examples include trans women who have not had surgery and intersex women. Ensler’s book features a monologue in which a teenage girl realises she’s intersex and does not have a vagina and the whole thing is… embarrassing to read. Embarrassing for Ensler, i mean. Completely symptomatic of vulvocentrism. There’s an excellent analysis of the monologue in question here written by the Intersex Society of North America.
- Too many feminists, who in one breath will champion a woman’s right to do with her body whatever she wants, will, in the next, protest for the criminalisation of prostitution (in the UK, where prostitution is legal but soliciting and brothels are not). Here we seen the desire to protect the vagina over the welfare of the woman. Just because a sex worker’s job involves her vagina doesn’t make it wrong.
And so on.
These backward views need challenging, so that’s what i’m here to do.
Part 2b coming up soon!
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- xmasandribena said: This looks like it’s going to be so interesting! One small point though: better to use ‘trans women’ than ‘transwomen’. Many trans women object to this (mis)use of ‘trans’. :)
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