of South Africa (UNISA)
This article addresses the contemporary
phenomenon of Eve Ensler’s The
Vagina Monologues. Whilst the play’s popular success is
beyond question, its philosophical successes warrant closer attention.
I examine the manner in which The
Vagina Monologues purports to speak for womanhood and assess
whether, given cultural and gendered variables, this is indeed
possible. I conclude that Ensler’s overt reliance on biological
femaleness and fixity of language results in a deeply exclusionary
work, and one that is, crucially, unaware of its own constructions.
Paradoxically, while seeking to address the marginalisation and
oppression the female body has experienced, Ensler’s appeal to a
physically universal womanhood ultimately re-inscribes these very
notions. As such, I critique Ensler’s implied insistence on a
normative body, one that functions, quite literally, to silence
any-body outside of her representational framework.
Keywords: Eve Ensler, The
Vagina Monologues, feminism, woman, language, performance, body,