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V***na, No Longer a Swear Word!

The other day, I was chatting with one of my girl friends over a cup of tea. We discussed so many topics in which we shared a common interest. And at one point I asked her whether she had read the play The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. Instantly, she gazed at me--her eyes blaring--and asked——   Hey, Sree! Aren’t you ashamed?”   It was really, really a shock to me. I thought an educated, high-profile girl like her would take it in its real sense. Poor I who mistook a Kerala village girl for a hi-fi one! So, I pondered very seriously on it later, and finally said to myself, “Nope. If Eve Ensler can write a book by this title, then I can surely speak about it."

That incident taught me a, too—“Don’t mention the name of body parts to girls, especially to one from Kerala." Long live Ensler, who was quite candid about her bodily experiences and considered vagina a tool for female empowerment. A playwright, feminist and an activist, Ensler is still remembered for groundbreaking work Vagina Monologues, an episodic play that was translated into some  48 languages and performed in over 140 countries.

First performed at Here Arts Center in New York City on 3 October 1996, the play is in the form of varying monologues rendered by three female characters. Each monologue speaks of one or other feminine experience, ranging from matters such as sex, love, rape, menstruation, female genital mutilation, masturbation, birth, and orgasm . The theme that recurs throughout the play is  vagina as a tool of female empowerment,and the ultimate embodiment of individuality.

Ensler says, "Everything about the patriarchal society has made women feel bad about their bodies, particularly about their sexuality." She wants all the women across the world, irrespective of their caste,colour and creed , to love their body. The more a woman loves her body, the more she turns creative and come into her own, says Ensler. And one more interesting factor before I conclude-- The work is a biological entity,too. Every year, it grows and widens its kitten of themes by adding a new monologue that highlights to a current issue affecting women around the world.


Sreenath V S
Research Scholar, 
IIT, Kanpur

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