Saturday, February 26, 2005

Vagina Closed Down

Uganda banned a play last week, and they're not the only country to ban it. Officials even "threatened to arrest organizers if they follow through on plans to stage benefit performances." Seems we need more repression and less plays, according to these responsible adults.

I'm proud to say that my English department students performed this play a couple of years ago -- though alas I can't take any credit. The senior students put on their own annual performance, choosing which play and directing it themselves. My school didn't try to ban it, as far as I know.

The banned play is titled The Vagina Monologues, by US playwright and feminist Eve Ensler. She interviewed hundreds of women of various ages, classes, colors, and persuasions in order to get voices and stories about how female sexuality is repressed, scorned, denied, and yet continues to express itself in spite of all that. The style is actually rather light, all things considered, and the humor is affirmative and charming.

But patriarchs around the world believe that father knows best, that the play is "unnatural", "vulgar", "offensive", and so forth. Rather than let you decide about that for yourself, they've decided that you can't see it. It was banned in Beijing and in Shanghai -- and in Malaysia. Asians aren't the only patriarchal censors though -- to was also banned in Chile.

Nevertheless, the play has been performed in many, many countries, and as the news hastened to add, "sometimes with major stars such as Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg." There were of course no major stars in the little English Department performance at my school, but the students really surprised me at how well they handled such material. They've grown up and moved on to their adult lives, still intact despite the best efforts of twenty years of school.

See link above for more.


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