Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The [Blank] Monologues

                Students at St. Louis’ Washington University recently renamed the popular play “The Vagina Monologues” and broadened (pardon the pun) its focus in the name of inclusivity. The young scholars opened up the play to non-vaginal-centric themes and re-christened it, “[Blank] Monologues,” proving that you can take the vagina out of the play, but you can’t take the play out of the vagina. Or something like that.
                The young thespians (insert tired joke here) “spoke 20 different pieces, all centering around sexuality, sexual violence, body image and more,” stated Student Life, the school’s student newspaper. According to one student, this led to these topics—and vaginas—being “freely discussed without judgement.” The pupil’s paper opined: “This year, proceeds from ‘[Blank] Monologues’ support Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG), a nonprofit that works to build an inclusive community for trans, genderqueer, androgynous, intersex and allies in the St. Louis area. Having a vagina and being a woman are not mutually exclusive, and lessons learned during the performance are important for everyone, no matter their gender identity. Cis-gender women are not the only people affected by sexuality stigma. By supporting MTUG and rebranding from ‘Vagina Monologues’ to ‘[Blank] Monologues,’ this performance was welcoming to a more diverse group of viewers. This move was deliberate and effective, as more students than ever felt deeply affected by the words spoken.”

                In the long and storied history of human lunacy, no more insane words have ever been spoken-- or written-- than, “Having a vagina and being a woman are not mutually exclusive.”

                Is this a trend? Is removing a word or two from a title really an effective way to exhibit inclusivity? Should we “rebrand” other famous works? Should we refer to Lincoln’s [Blank] Address? I mean, what about those who gave their last full measure of devotion in battles other than Gettysburg? Perhaps we should talk of “The Bill of [Blanks]” or the iconic movie, “Gone With the [Blank]?” I mean, “Rights” has fascist overtones and what if someone wanted to go with Earth or Fire and not Wind? Has anyone thought of that?
                In fact, the [Skank] [Blank] Monologues also seems to me an insufficiently inclusive title. “Blank” means “empty,” “vacant” or “unfulfilled,” rather ironic when talking about the spot “vagina” once held. It certainly doesn’t seem inclusive or vagina-positive. “Mono,” for its part, means “single” or “one.” Overtly limiting and exclusive! “Logue” is a suffix denoting “speech” or “talk.” Ergo, “[Blank] Monologues” literally means “unfulfilled single speeches.” This is precisely the opposite of what the play is trying to achieve and convey.

                I must now tell the students at WU that I too have been deeply affected by the words you’ve spoken and written. So, in closing, I would like to say: “[Blank] you!”

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