by Eve Ensler
Random House Audio, 2002
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Feb 15th 2002
Its great to be able to hear Eve
Ensler perform her well-known work The Vagina Monologues on CD. For years, she has written plays in which
she performs the words of people she has met and talked with, telling their
stories for them; but it is this performance on vaginas that has gained her
most attention. She was a wonderful
ability to bring alive the voices of the women through their monologues, and
listeners will probably want to play their favorite sections to their friends
and family again and again. Or at
least, if you are not the type to die of embarrassment at talk of ones private
parts, the use of rude words, and peoples feelings about sex.
I imagine The Vagina Monologues
will split its listeners into those who love it, and those who hate it. Its easy to see why so many women love it
Ensler talks about ideas and attitudes that rarely get much attention, and she
does it with passion and humor. Its
not clear that there really is much of a taboo about sex these days its all
around on TV, movies, and of course the Internet so Im not sure that this
should be seen as a revolutionary or shocking work. But it is clearly a woman-positive work, reminiscent of work done
by feminists in the 1980s. Im thinking
of works like Carole Vances Pleasure
and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality (RKP, 1984) and a number of
similar works that came around that time.
It seems that these days theres few works in which women discuss sex
and eroticism in positive yet critical ways most of the books on sex that are
published these days are forthright manuals about how to get more orgasms and
please your partner at the same time or else are tracts advising teenagers to
preserve their virginity. Although some
of the monologues echo ideas from radical-feminist writings of the 1970s and
1980s, these are not theoretical arguments, but rather are personal
reflections. They are not against men,
and indeed, the use of humor gives them warmth and makes the ideas in the
monologues more convincing. Even those
who are wary of the F-word (i.e., feminism) will be able to enjoy The Vagina
One fascinating aspect of these
monologues that the CD only hints at is the way that they change over
time. Ensler adds new stories as she hears
them, and as she gets reactions from different audiences. Furthermore, many other women have also
performed this work, and presumably they sometimes bring in their own
innovations to the work. So even if you
get the CD, you may still want to attend a performance to see how the work is
growing. I imagine that the experience
of being in an audience of these monologues could be a powerful one for both
men and women, and the studio recording of the CD does not convey anything of
that. But you may well find that
listening to the CD with others could be a bonding experience. Highly recommended.
web page with RealAudio excerpt from book and interview with author
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review.
His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry.
He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can
play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster
communication between philosophers, mental health professionals,
and the general public.