Because concern about his incredible shrinking dick is about the only reason I can see for forbidding a bunch of high school girls from using the word “vagina” during a reading of “The Vagina Monologues.”
The students, all juniors at John Jay High School, stood by their actions, saying everyone should be comfortable with the word and the female sexuality it invokes.
“We had no doubt in our minds that we were willing to be ‘insubordinate’ to do the right thing and get this word out there and we were willing to take whatever consequence,” said Hannah Levinson. The press conference was held in Levinson’s living room where all the girls were accompanied by their parents.
“It just doesn’t make sense for an administration to expect me not to talk about my body – it’s mine,” added Megan Reback.
The controversy centers around a stanza from Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” a book that was written in 1996 and has since been translated into 45 languages. The stanza reads: “My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women’s army. I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina’s country.”
Whoops! They said it. Now everyone will know that vaginas exist!
What really gets me is that this is going on in Katonah, not too far north of where I’m sitting. Maybe the good folk of Katonah like to pretend that if they don’t say the word “vagina,” then the girls won’t figure out they have them.* Because if they know they have them, they might use them! They might get on the Metro-North train and go into the city and who knows what kind of decadence they might get up to there!
OTOH, I do have some experience with the kind of blinders affluent parents put on when it comes to the behavior of their little darlings. Ask me sometime about the death threats my family got for going to the cops and calling parents after our house got wrecked during a high school flash party. The only parents who admitted their kids were even there, let alone involved in the destruction, were the ones who lived in welfare housing in our affluent town. The only people who said anything to me at school about it were the Madonna Wanna-bes, who were widely considered to be “bad girls,” and a kid who had a long history of being in trouble (and later raped and killed some goats at a local petting zoo). And none had been involved in the damage.**
Amusingly, the principal, in his own press conference, said that he wasn’t trying to censor the play by forbidding mention of a rather prominent word in its title, oh no!
School officials this afternoon also defended the decision to suspend the girls. They say the punishment has nothing to do with censorship, but rather is based on the students agreeing to omit the word from their presentation and then failing to honor that.
At a press event held after the girls’, Principal Rich Leprine said the school “recognizes and respects student freedom of expression,” but that the freedom is not unfettered, especially when an activity or event is open to the general community.
Here’s a hint, Rich: the play is called “The VAGINA Monologues.” You knew that. You could have said the whole thing wasn’t appropriate; you could have said that this particular excerpt wasn’t appropriate and please choose another. Instead, you tried to bowdlerize the thing and drain it of all its meaning. Because without the word, it’s just about a fashion choice.
Also? They know they have them. What might be nice is if the adults around them didn’t treat that as something shameful and something to be suppressed and something to be ignored rather than something to be owned and be proud of and to be put to one’s own uses rather than the uses of others.
Which, again, is the ENTIRE POINT OF THE PLAY.
*I can recall knowing what a vagina was from an early age. If I’m not mistaken, that was one of Dr. Spock’s things, giving the proper names to body parts, and my mother read Dr. Spock. Plus, my grandmother was a nurse and very no-nonsense about stuff like that.
** None of the people who apologized to me at school, that is. One of the kids whose parents did not just shut the conversation down when my mother called was caught running out of my parents’ room, which had been utterly trashed (all the contents of the drawers and closets on the floor, picture frames broken, shit left on sink). My parents wound up dropping it after the insurance company paid for the damage. And after one too many firebombing threats.
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