All-women's college cancels 'Vagina Monologues' because it's not feminist enough

Campus Reform Reporter

Total Shares
This is the CRO SBAR

  • Mount Holyoke College, an all-women’s school, announced in a campus-wide email that the Theatre Board has cancelled its annual production of the “Vagina Monologues.”
  • The board has decided to retire the feminist classic as it is not “inclusive” enough to those who identify as women but do not have vaginas.
  • The school recently decided to admit male students who identify as women.
  • Mount Holyoke College, an all-women’s college in Massachusetts, is retiring its annual production of the Vagina Monologues this year because the play is not inclusive of transgender students.

    The annual production of the play is part of a country-wide tradition to perform Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence and usually coincides with the V-Day campaign. The proceeds are donated to sexual assault prevention organizations or women’s rights organizations.

    "[W]e can't present a show that is blatantly transphobic and treats race and homosexuality questionably, when one of the conditions of getting the rights to the show is that you can't critique it or alter it."   

    This year, however, Mount Holyoke’s  Project Theatre Board is defying tradition by permanently retiring the play. In a school-wide email from the Theatre Board, a representative from the group, Erin Murphy, explained the problems with the play and the reasoning behind its discontinuation.

    “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, obtained by Campus Reform, said.

    Replacing the play will be Mount Holyoke’s own version that will be trans-inclusive and fix the “problems” supposedly perpetuated by Ensler. Murphy also claims that there are problems with race, class, and “other identities” within the play.

    The new production, comprised of students’ monologues, will be performed in a fashion reminiscent of the feminist classic. The program will be performed alongside the College’s Peer Health Educators, an on-campus student-led group that provides education and workshops for students, including a workshop on how to use sex toys properly.

    Students have had mixed reviews about the decision and took to the Holyoke Confessional, an online anonymous message board, to vent or praise the Theatre Board’s decision to cancel the play.

    “I love how people who have never been able to discuss or embrace their vaj-wahs aren't going to find an avenue here, either, since female-validating talk about vaginas is now forbidden. That's so misogynistic under the guise of ‘progress,’” one student wrote.

    “But we can't present a show that is blatantly transphobic and treats race and homosexuality questionably, when one of the conditions of getting the rights to the show is that you can't critique it or alter it,” another student said.

    The college recently expanded its definition of a woman when it announced it will be accepting men who identify as women in the upcoming 2015 admissions cycle. A video also recently circulated from the college, explaining Mount Holyoke’s new definition of a woman.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @y_mdbailey