Masculine Duties Over-Emphasized

Matt Esposito begins his article “Neglecting masculine duties causes women to suffer” by not so subtly patronizing The College’s production of “The Vagina Monologues”. Yet, even after acknowledging that this is his third year of experiencing this “rite of spring”, Esposito still fails to understand what the play and its advertisement campaign are all about. What he refers to as some “students’ crass desires to chalk their genitalia and obscenity all over campus” is not “pornographic” or “obscene” but a powerful message from women who are taking control of their bodies by taking control of the words used to to describe them. Terms such as “cunt” have become “dirty words” in our world, but they are in fact references to a female’s body parts, more specifically her sex organs. A deep-rooted fear of women exercising, or even possessing, their sexuality is what has given these words a negative connotation.

Esposito also laments the absence of any male perspective in the play, again missing the point that “The Vagina Monologues” is a celebration of the lesbian continuum- women telling their own stories about their own bodies and lives. By excluding the male voice, Ensler reminds us that not all dialogue must contain a male point of view to be considered valid. I am not denying men’s role in violence against women. Indeed, I do not think it can be overstated. But I find it disappointing and rather insulting that after witnessing testimony about female genital mutilation, Esposito dares criticize the play for its “men-hating”. Unfortunately, Esposito’s phallocentrism prohibits him from seeing that “The Vagina Monologues” is not a venue for men to speak out, but to listen up.

Maire O’Malley