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The Vagina Monologues - Eve Ensler

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Genre: Drama / Poetry / Criticism / Author: Eve Ensler / Edition: Reprint / Paperback / 272 Pages / Book is published 2007-12-26 by Villard Books

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    5 Reviews
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      27.09.2011 05:39
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      celebrating womanhood

      How often do you look at your vagina? Talk about it? Not very often if you are the average woman. Most vaginas remains hidden away and not talked about in polite conversation and are often shyly referred to as "downstairs" or some other twee word. Eve Ensler decided to write "The Vagina Monologues" after having a conversation with another woman about her vagina. She then interviewed over 200 women asking them question such as "what would your vagina choose to wear?" and "what does your vagina smell like?" and then wrote a series of short standalone monologues based on these interviews and combined them into a book. The themes covered are all of the various functions of the vagina which are menstruation, sex and orgasms and childbirth as well as looking at women's feelings about those events. The message is that the vagina is marvellous and something to be celebrated, I don't know if I would go as far in my adulation about female genitalia but teaching women to think about themselves in a positive way cannot be a bad thing. Some of the passages in this section are laugh out hilarious, some are so kooky that you will roll your eyes in disbelief and some are things that the average woman will give a knowing nod to. There is also a more serious side to the book and it covers the ways in which women are violated. There is one monologue in particular which is especially sad written from the perspective of a Bosnian woman who was repeatedly raped over several days by a group of soldiers and I doubt if anyone could read that without being moved. Female genital mutilation is also briefly touched upon and the monologues gave rise to V day which seeks to bring an end to violence against women worldwide. I felt that some of the material seemed a bit dated after all modern society is far less coy about sexual matters than it used to be. The average young British woman knows all about periods and how to have an orgasm thanks to magazines and TV programmes like "Embarrassing Bodies". The vagina fact file intersperses facts between the monologues and learning that the clitoris was once known as the devil's teat and the presence of this odd structure was a sign of witchcraft shows how far society has moved on. The book was written in the 1990s and it is perhaps partly because of the book that society has moved on however with designer vaginas and vajazzling being the latest trends perhaps we need a reminder of what is normal. It was normal for older generations to be far more guarded when talking about intimate matters, my grandmother switched the TV off in disgust once when periods were discussed and I imagine someone from her generation both being horrified but able to learn a lot from the book. There is no hiding that "The Vagina Monologues" are a bit, well, American. There's no way a British woman could ever have written this book, just as there is no way that us uptight Brits would start a vagina workshop teaching other women how to masturbate as somebody in the book has. There is also a feminist slant to the writing with lesbian experience painted as positive far more frequently than heterosexual experiences. There is one particular monologue called "The Little Coochie Snorcher Who Could" in which a 13 year old girl is learns to love her vagina following a rape by being seduced by a much older woman; surely sex with a child is exploitative even if it is a woman who is the initiator and not a man. The Vagina Monologues are, of course, meant to be performed and generally I find plays difficult to read but the nature of the book made this a quick read. It is worth reading as it is funny and moving but watch out for the kooky Americans!

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        05.09.2011 18:38

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        Great read for women.

        I bought this book after enjoying the show. It should be noted that the book is the same as the show, so don't expect much new material. The range of stories from different experiences and different women in this book is great, and not at all embarrassing to read. Something that females I know have shared with each other without shame, because everybody should be allowed to talk about vaginas! There are hilarious stories, alongside some very upsetting haunting chapters. The introduction by the author is wonderful, talking about why shes compiled the book, which is very inspiring. It makes me wish I was her, to get to hear all the stories she didn't include. A great read, if a short one, but a lovely introduction to the author and to the concept of embracing feminity a lot more than we used to. I'd recommend this, and her second book, which i admittedly am yet to read.

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        03.08.2002 18:49
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        As some of you look at the title you may think, what a rude word or what a pervert. Some of you may sit there cringing at the thought of this review. The Vagina Monologues is a funny book and I had to read it after there being a play and the fuss made about this. Eve Ensler clearly states at the start of the book that she interviewed women of different religions, age and races so that it does not seem like she is discriminating against the vagina. There is a long beginning to the book before it gets into the vagina monologues with an introduction on why the book was done and so on. By the start of this book I wanted to get to the actual Vagina Monologues and see what kind of things Eve asked the women she was talking to. Even at the chapter titled Vagina Monologues she talks about the word vagina talking about how it sounds like an infection or a medical insturment. Some of the weird things she says are actually true. I find it funny at the end of this section when she talks about worldwide names for a vagina some of these are, powderbox, poopi, cooter, monkey box, coochi snorcher, fannyboo and to shorten the list and not ruin the many names a Gladys Siegelman. The book then begins with a woman talking about her vagina being shaved, some of you may be in shock or some may laugh. Everyone has a different reaction to this book and mine was different to every interview. Some was weird, some stories funny, some shocking. There are questions she asked women which when asked I just wouldn't know the answer if I had been an interviewee. One example of this is "If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?" to this some replied a leather jacket, a pink boa, armani only, glasses. All of these bizarre some think casual, some fancy. One other question is "If your vagina could talk, what would it say, in two words? Now I will not give the answer to this as I don't want to ruin it for those of you who may be intereste d by this book. I think Eve Ensler made quite an achievment when she got an old woman to talk about her vagina. She was private but she made her speak about it and I found this story strange. In this book there are some vagina facts about histroy of vaginas. I didn't know these so I suppose I learned something. I also found it weird when from a story some one spoke or even the author I couldn't quite tell. There is a vagina workshop where you discover your vagina and sit there with hand mirrors, I found that strange. There is too many things that happen in this book that are strange. I don't know what some people will think of this book but it's worth a read. I hope now that people will not think I am a pervert or freak, I am not. I am just explaining what the book is about so sorry if I offended anyone and please do still read what I write. Thank you.

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          14.08.2001 18:38
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          This was an eye opening and enjoyable read. A girl friend bought it for me. I was a bit wary at first but persevered past the front cover. It contains various monologues about the Vagina. The stories are gathered from conversations held with woman of all age’s colours and creeds about their vaginas. They are a mixture of the sad and the hilarious. Having seen the stage play I have to say that the moans scene needs to be seen but the book does some justice to it. My personal favourite was the little coochi snorcher that could. This tells the tale of a young black girl and the bad things that happened to her as a child and how she became sexually aware. Although the story is quite sad in places it does have a happy and amusing ending. I like the way the monologue read and the way it made it’s point and told the tale without preaching or being too down. It also tells in the foreword that most religious buildings are based on the shape of the women’s bits( tubes ovaries etc). It also tells interestingly that hundreds of years ago in Asia it was a female sexual idol that was worshipped as being more powerful than it’s male counterpart. This astounded me especially as it was the case in may other religions. The thing that surprised me the most on reading this book was that so many older women had contributed to the book. They had also been to the play and according to Eve Ensler were the most open and frank interviewees. I was shocked when my ninety year old Grandma picked up the book to read (mortified might be a better word.),but then she sat down and read it. Her comment was it’s about time too. I never thought I’d be having conversations about vaginas with her. In the book they reclaim the word c***. I’m still not too sure about this and at the play people did shout it back at the stage although I was too much of a wimp for that. They tell you to say it on the tube to see what reaction you get. I think I know the reac tion I’d get ( a slap) so I think I’ll pass on that. I’m not sure it’s for everyone but it is the case that as soon as you mention the title to anyone the floodgates open and the talking begins. A great fun read and a great conversation opener.

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            14.08.2001 07:18
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            As the title suggests it is series of monologues about the VAGINA.All the monologues are true. This is a funny read and is basically the script from the play with a few added scenes and bits of information. Each monologue gives you the title and where needed the accent you need to read it in for full effect. There is a foreword by Gloria Steinhem who explains how she became interested in the Vagina Monologues and how a lot of religions worshiped the vagina. The next chapter deals with Eve and how she started the monologues. It all started when Eve had a conversation with an older woman who said contemptuous things about her vagina. It got her wondering what others would say. She interviewed women of all ages; religions, sexual orientation and races .The monologues are a result of these interviews. One of the things that surprised her the most was the way that once asked they didn’t stop. Here follows a brief guide to the monologues. The monologues are both funny and thought provoking. It opens with the monologue containing the immortal words “VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA, sounds like a disease doesn’t it”. This is then followed by the monologue surrounding the euphemisms we use for the vagina. There are numerous ones which when read out loud are hilarious. Some examples are…….front bottom, coochie snorcher, pit dugout, fanny , mabel, tutu and twat ( will we ever look at the word in the same way?). Hair (pubic) is another subject tackled, to shave or not to shave. A husband wants his wife to shave and their tale is told in a very humorous way. I can’t say more without giving too much away. If your Vagina got dressed what would it wear? I haven’t given this a great deal of thought, but some of the suggestions ranged from a pink tutu to diamonds.This piece came about from a chance comment of Eves friend who said if my Vagina dressed it would wear a beret ( she was going through a French phase).One of my favouri te monologues was If Your Vagina Could talk , what would it say? Well I’ve asked a few people and they all said things that came up in this monologue. Some examples were: baby, not there, harder, slower, take it out, put it in, helloooo there, you again! The Vagina Workshop was another hilarious monologue. It tells the story of a lawyer who after years in the job decides that she would prefer to bring the pleasure of the orgasm to women by becoming a sex worker, for women only. She tells us of the outfits she like to wear, how she likes to see and hear the women moan. She tells us the various moans names and moans used (it is hysterical). You have the American moan, the Jewish mother moan, the British moan, the diva, the howler, the panter, any sound familiar yet? We had a few vagina facts THE fact I remember the most is that the clitoris has no fewer than (drum roll please) 8,000 nerve endings in it. That is twice as much as the penis and is the only yes only part of the body designed purely for pleasure. It does have serious pieces as in the one about Genital Mutilation but although this is thought provoking it did not detract from the fun of the book Another monologue I loved was My Vaginas angry. It contained the words My Vaginas angry it’s p***ed off. Do I deserve to be garrotted by those wire cutters you call thongs? Why do you douche me in all these products, I’m not supposed to smell rose fresh, I’m not supposed to smell like rain. I have my own smell. There are many more funny monologues regarding the Vagina and I would recommend this for everyone. The last chapters detail letters and comments from people who have read the book or seen the show. I have seen the stage version of this and it is the best thing since sliced bread. If you have seen the play it will bring it all back to you. If you haven’t it will make you laugh and think. I am buying this for all my friends for their birthday. All profi ts go to the charity V-Day which is a charity trying to stop violence against women. A chapter in the book is devoted to this and the actresses who have taken part in the play. Buy this book I can guarantee you will never run out of things to talk about again.

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            The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. Hailed as the bible for a new generation of women, it has been performed in cities and colleges throughout the world, and has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement - V-Day - to stop violence against women.