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am 26. Juni 2006
To summarize: Today, "The Vagina Monologues" may still be exciting and meaningful for an audience in the Bible Belt of Bush Country, but for females (and males) who have enjoyed watching "Sex and the City", "The Vagina Monologues" seem dated, stilted, pretentious, and sometimes even annoying.

Maybe the most insightful criticism of "The Vagina Monologues" was made by an ex-lawyer-now-domina-for-women whom Ensler quotes. The ex-lawyer said that she felt that she hadn't recognized herself in Ensler's monologue based on an interview with her; she felt that Ensler's play had created a distance to the vagina and not captured the spirit. I think this criticism applies to most of Ensler's monologues.

Right from the start of her play, Ensler sets out to envelop the vagina in the gobbledygook of female mysticism. Her interviews start with the question what the interviewee's vagina would want to dress in. So right from the outset of her mission, Ensler shows a tendency to veil the blunt reality of the vagina with metaphors and similes. She creates distance even in her performance: Her contorted rendition of the word "c*nt" in the hysterical singsong of a medieval mystic is embarrassing to listen to - why can't she just say the word (as Glenn Close apparently did)? Or do we catch a glimpse of Ensler's own inhibitions here?? A hint of this enraptured singsong can also be found in her monologue on giving birth - that's one of her most unconvincing pieces. Maybe she should just have acknowledged that she hasn't given birth herself and therefore prefers to skip the topic instead of coming up with some balderdash of mystic-metaphoric clichés?

Ensler aims to create a world in which men are predominantly disruptive perpetrators of evil and women are always non-violent angels of bliss and joy. Here, however, Ensler seems to walk blindfolded into her own trap: For example, Ensler recounts the experiences of a girl who, at 9, gets raped by one of daddy's friends and, at 13, gets seduced by a gorgeous sensual successful secretary in a one-night stand and in this sexual experience finally comes to accept her vagina as a place of joy. So what would Ensler (and everyone else) have said if it had been a man and not a woman seducing the girl - wouldn't she have raised hue and cry and shouted abuse? Does Ensler's story imply that it's okay to abuse a 13-year-old sexually, as long as it's done by a gentle and sensitive woman and the victim enjoys it? What a worrisome message!

Ensler's fame does not come from the literary merit of her play (because there is none) but from the topic alone - speaking (of) the vagina. In the early nineties, this may have been radical and liberating for women, a good and necessary step. But once the audience has learned to say "vagina", what else is there in the play? My answer is: Very very little! The most interesting bits in "The Vagina Monologues" are the vagina hard facts which Ensler quotes. And of course, in line with the totalitarian feminism of the 1970s, Ensler avoids mention of the male organ and never says "p*nis". So much for speaking out and overcoming inhibitions!

So: If you want to learn to talk about vaginas, skip "The Vagina Monologues" and start with "Sex and the City" - apart from being the far better entertainment, "Sex and the City" covers a much wider range of similar topics, its perspectives on them are much more differentiated, subtle, diverse and ironic, also include male perspectives, and all of it is done in a very intelligent way - and you're spared Eve Ensler's voice (not one of her greatest assets)!
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am 18. Februar 1999
This book had to be the most amazing book I have read in years. I picked it up and didn't put it down until I was finished. What Eve Ensler has done to reclaim the word "vagina" and make it ours again it both breathtaking and brave. She has started the break down of so many sexual and societal barriers and has started the road to shameless sexual sucess. But the book is not only about having better sex and knowing how to please yourself. It is about becoming more comfortable with being a woman and knowing who you are and where to locate all of your parts. I have been waiting for a book like this for years and I am so proud that it should come in such a wonderful form as the beautiful and moving poetry/prose of this wonderful author. To any man or woman who feels that they know everything there is to know abot a woman's vagina, read this book. It will not only change your views but it will rock your world. I'm in love with this book. Well done.
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am 24. Dezember 1999
There IS a place for this book, for the usual feminist political reasons, as there are still too many women languishing in ignorance and fear.
But I found the book to be disingenuous and self-serving at spots. For example, in the section about female circumcision in Africa the author failed to mention that it's women who do this to other women. It's old women who teach younger women to do this. Perhaps it would have been embarassing to point out that Sisterhood might not be uniform or consistent with Western preconceptions: damned if my book will sacrifice politics for facts!
And it would have been interesting to include a bit of monologue about American attempts to "educate" women in Africa about how horrible we think their custom is, and the extent to which African women care about what American women think of them. I suppose the laughter (or confusion) of African women would have made for a rather counter-productive monologue.
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This book is a life changer. I read it six months ago and I cannot believe how much it has liberated me and my attitude towards my body. Like everyone says, you cannot put it down once you begin reading it. Ensler talks about the things I've kept hidden. I never knew just how central to my life my vagina is. A chapter about menstruation, my god, people talk about this? A chapter about orgasm and hair and the fear we have of our own body. The part we never like to talk about. The chapter on birth is amazing, and until then I never knew how complex the woman's vagina is. For a woman of 22, this is a very important read. If you ever get to see her read from The Vagina Monologues, go. She puts on an amazing show. Some people think it's simple but I feel it's life-changing. I would be a very different person without it and not many books can have that kind on impact.
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am 27. Januar 1999
I had always considered myself a pretty outspoken feminist (but not a man-hater, more a woman supporter). This book freed me of inhibitions I didn't even know I had. I had never been down there, not really, until I read this book and was inspired to love every part of myself. This is a liberating book for any woman who reads it, and as a teen I feel all girls should recieve this book as a gift once they get their period, and all men should be required to read this to get a better understanding of women. I think that this is a book that speaks honestly to all people. It isn't a defamation of anyone, but a celebration of life and womanhood.
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am 11. Januar 2000
Even a conservative from the midwest can applaud Ms. Ensler for this important gift to women! How sad that this subject has been untouchable for so long. This work gives women and all those who truly love and seek to understand them a new perspective on much more than anatomy and sexuality. In a society that values what is "appropriate"and "normal" over what is honest and real- this piece of literature was desperately needed.
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am 30. Mai 1999
This is a book about women discovering themselves. Unfortunately the ambition of the project is not realized with the superficial stream of consciousness approach used. This may have been effective as a device in the play from which the book is derived but not here. The predicably trite forward by Gloria Steinem is out of place in this book and hinders its aim. Steinem only describes women in contrast to men not as ends in themselves.
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am 26. Oktober 1998
Three years ago a friend of my took me to see Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. I didn't know what to expect -- it could be anything from serious feminist performance art to stand-up judging from the title. But Ms. Ensler's incisive words and brilliant message have forever changed the way I think, feel and relate to my body and my feminity. These are not just words on a page, they are an experience.
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am 10. November 1998
I happened upon this book by chance, intrigued by the title. Once I started reading it, though, I could not put it down. I had read it twice in less than 24 hours. It has become one of the books I pass on to others. So far, my copy has been to four other readers who all think it is as wonderful as I do! A definate read for all women, and a great gift for every teenage girl!
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am 24. August 2002
Ja, leider wächst fast immernoch jede Frau mit der Tabu auf nicht über "dort unten" sprechen zu dürfen. Auf jeden Fall ist zumindest das Wort Vagina ein Tabu. Oder wie oft haben Sie es bisher von jemanden gehört? Dieses Buch erzählt Geschichten von Frauen wie sie mit Ihrer Vagina aufgewachsen sind. Es sind lustige Geschichte, tragische Geschichten, schöne Geschichten. Auf jeden Fall sind es sehr offene Geschichten, welches bei jeder Frau Erinnerungen wecken wird. Und man überlegt sich unweigerlich seine eigene Geschichte dazu. Und denkt viel, viel, viel darüber nach was eigentlich die eigene Vagina für einem selber bedeutet.
Männer kann ich dieses Buch auch sehr empfehlen, wenn sie verstehen wollen, wie anders es ist weiblich als männlich zu sein. Wenn sie verstehen wollen wie viel negatives eine Frau ihr Leben lang in Bezug auf ihre Vagina erlebt udn wie viele Unsicherheiten damit verbunden sind. Was für ein langer Kampf es für die meisten ist, diese, meist negative, Bilder zu überwinden und sich an seiner Vagina zu erfreuen. Sie hegen und pflegen sie zu genießen.
Jede Mutter (jeder Vater) sollte dieses Buch ab dem Teenager-Alter ihrer Tochter schenken!
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