A Michigan university has decided to cancel a scheduled performance of “The Vagina Monologues” because, according to the university, “not all women have vaginas.”
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) has reportedly halted production of Eve Ensler’s 1994 play because of its lack of trans-sensitivity, and overall lack of diversity and inclusion.
The university’s announcement came in the form of an email from EMU’s WRC, after receiving and evaluating survey responses. According to Ann Arbor News, survey respondents opposed to the production consistently cited that “the play centers on cisgender women, that the play's version of feminism excludes some women, including trans women, and that overall, "The Vagina Monologues" lacks diversity and inclusion.”
Due to copyright laws, the WRC said that modifying the script is not an option.
"We feel that making this decision is in line with the WRC mission of recognizing and celebrating the diverse representations of women on campus along with the overall mission of the Department of Diversity and Community Involvement,in which the WRC is housed, of supporting and empowering minoritized students and challenging systems and structures that perpetuate inequities,” the email from the WRC read. “We truly believe that it is important to center our minoritized students and this decision is in line with this mission driven value."
The survey was apparently launched in response both to conversations with current EMU students, and feedback from a WRC workshop titled “Not all women have vaginas,” held during the 2017-18 school year.
According to the WRC, students had concerns regarding the relevance and effectiveness of the once-groundbreaking “Vagina Monologues,” which was written by feminist activist Eve Ensler as an episodic play, featuring first-person narratives where women talk about their vaginas. It had long been considered representative of feminist liberation.
Those concerns apparently “created a need to ask the question: Do we still need 'The Vagina Monologues?' And, are 'The Vagina Monologues' still relevant to next generation feminists?" the WRC email went on to say.
And while some survey participants expressed a desire to see the production continue, the WRC claims in the email that many of those same participants also wanted to see the play modified to reflect better diversity and inclusion, particularly related to transgenderism.
EMU is not the first university to make the decision to cancel production of “The Vagina Monologues.”
The Women's Initiative at American University apparently changed the event to "Breaking Ground Monologues", in order to "broaden the focus from specifically female genitalia to multiple identities and bodies."
And in 2015 ,a student group at the women’s university Mount Holyoke College decided to cancel its annual performance of production, claiming the play is exclusive of the experiences of transgender women who don't have a vagina. According to an email sent to students from the group Project: Theater, “At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.”