The Vagina Monologues
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The Vagina Monologues

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  13,121 ratings  ·  761 reviews
"I was worried about vaginas. I was worried about what we think about vaginas, and even more worried that we don't think about them. . . . So I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues. I talked with over two hundred women. I talked to old women, young women, married women, single women, lesbians, college profess...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 3rd 1998 by Villard Books (first published 1996)
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Warwick
My vagina is a shell, a round pink tender shell, opening and closing, closing and opening. My vagina is a flower, an eccentric tulip, the center acute and deep, the scent delicate, the petals gentle but sturdy.


No it isn't. It isn't a flower, it isn't a tulip, it isn't a shell or a piece of coral or an exotic orchid. It's a tract of epithelial tissue, just like everyone else's.

Don't get me wrong, vaginas are lovely – I'm a massive fan – but these monologues represent the sort of facile, pseudo-f...more
Elle
It's disturbingly tempting to give this book a high rating just so everyone knows that I'm a feminist (which I am) and that I'm comfortable talking about sex (you mean coitus?). And I think Ensler depends on that tendency. Because here's the thing- VM's politics may be admirable, but as theatre it's really quite bad. Also, Ensler is a self-serving egomaniac. Think about it- she could fund an endowment for female playwrights and premiere a new feminist play every year, but instead she's set up an...more
Aaron
Apr 04, 2007 Aaron rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ideologues, those looking for a larf.
While I don't necessarily disagree with Ensler's thesis, or the help the project has provided to various women's charities, the whole thing, as a literary or dramatic work, is very problematic. Anything more honest than a fawning critique reveals how shallow the whole thing is; there's hypocrisy, repetitive symbolism and metaphors, a heaping of that empty sort of communal feminism that makes everyone feel good but doesn't actually change anything, and, upon close inspection, evidence of the kind...more
Shannon
Feb 22, 2008 Shannon rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminists who don't feel like thinking too hard
Shelves: queer
There's a lot to critique about this - but I really don't feel like getting into it. I will say this, though: Eve Ensler doesn't know what a vagina is. If you're unclear: a vagina is "the passage leading from the uterus to the vulva in certain female mammals". Everyone in this play says "vagina" when they really usually mean "vulva". I'm not being oddly specific, they are completely different parts of the anatomy. COME ON. Vulva is a prettier word than vagina anyway. I liked the reclaiming cunt...more
Nikki
I've been meaning to read or see The Vagina Monologues for a long time. Someone was talking about it, as people often do, and I realised it was available on the Kindle store, so I got it.

It's a very quick read. It's not an easy read. There's discussion of self-loathing, of embarrassment and shame, of sexual assault and violence against women, of statutory rape. It might also not be easy for you if you can't read the word 'vagina' without getting uncomfortable, or if you don't like the word 'cunt...more
Dixie Diamond
"I did not see my vagina as my primary resource, a place of sustenance, humor and creativity."

You know, I don't see it that way, either. I thought the source of all that was my brain.

I must not have been abused enough as a girl, because I always feel like vagina-centric art projects like this reduce me to a piece of anatomy just as much as does the alleged male fantasy of big boobs and miles of leg.

Which is not to say that there weren't/aren't some seriously screwed-up ideas about female reprodu...more
Beth F.
When I was in eighth grade health class, the teacher handed out diagrams of male and female genitalia with lines pointing to the different parts and told us to memorize the names of the parts for a test at the end of the week. After our tests had been graded, the teacher admitted that she’d analyzed the results for boys vs. girls and found some interesting discrepancies. Not terribly surprising, most boys and girls scored the highest when identifying the parts of their own respective genitals. B...more
Shivering William
I don't understand a lot of the reviews on here. Especially the one star ones.

First of all, over the vagina/vulva debate, Ensler addresses that almost first thing. She purposefully chose the more hideous word to make people uncomfortable (and eventually--hopefully--comfortable with the subject matter). The low goodreads reviews make me think those people didn't actually read the play. Maybe they just saw a sub-par production that didn't have all the pieces. Fine. Forgivable.

Second, people are s...more
Jesse James
I have big issues with this play. It essentializes what it means to be a woman, equating femininity with a having a vagina! Not to mention endorsing racial and cultural stereotypes.
Virginia
I have such conflicting feelings about this book. On the one hand, I appreciate it for saying out loud some things that haven't been really accepted by society.

On the other hand, Eve Ensler is a self-promoting, self-satisfied twit.

Anna
i think for her target audience (middle america's sorority girls) they're revolutionary. for me personally, i felt like they essentialized women to their genitalia and were problematic in that sense. i've also had to sit through the play 5+ times, so perhaps i'm just burnt out on cunt-love
Petra X
The book itself is very short and because of that several introductions and a afterwords have been included to pad it out. First there is the extremely long introduction by the author which was partly about how the book was written and partly history and what has happened since the Vagina Monologues was created. Then there is a another extremely long (but much better written and more interesting) introduction by the fabulous Gloria Steinem telling us something of her eccentric, interesting and r...more
Debbie
Jan 23, 2008 Debbie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women everywhere
I have read this before, but I listened to it on audio today and the live version is definitely the best. At times hilarious, brutal, disconcerting, and poignant - The Vagina Monologues is the result of interviews with over 200 women. If the idea of a woman's sexuality makes you uncomfortable, then you definitely need to challenge yourself and come to terms with the vagina. It's not going to disappear just because we are afraid to talk about it.

Here in the United States, a woman is raped every...more
Fiona
Upon reading this book I gave it the "I liked it" three star rating. Having now listened to Eve Ensler breathe so much energy and character into these monologues, I am increasing my rating to four stars. The audiobook version of The Vagina Monologues is wonderfully textural. My emotional responses to these pieces as they floated into my mind this afternoon were in abundance whereas when I was reading the monologues I gradually became aware of an emotional disconnect which felt, for me, extremely...more
Sara
"the vagina monologues" began ambitiously, as the author, eve ensler, interviewed hundreds of women from all around the globe about their vaginas-- something most of us don't spend much time talking about!-- but i don't think even ensler could ever have predicted the impact it would have on the world. "the vagina monologues" turned into v-day, one of the most important worldwide events, consistently raising awareness and money to work to end violence against women.

through all of this, it can be...more
JT
Feb 27, 2008 JT rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Whoever wants to read it
Recommended to JT by: A friend of my mom's who sees it the way I do.
So, I know, I am only giving this book 3 stars. Not that I didn't think that some, even most of it was really good, my dislike starts to form when they are performed. The monologues and stories in this book are well written, they are heartwarming, funny, devastating, real and emotional. Some rip your heart out, some make you laugh because we have all done what ever it was. The problem with performance of this piece is that when some people start to say these words for a crowd, it becomes more ab...more
Chris
I’m coming late to this party, I have to admit. And for my, the defining feminist changes my outlook and gripped book is Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.
Still, you have to be a complete idiot to not see the power in this play (or performance piece). Considering that women’s sexuality is in many ways still owned/controlled by men, this book is still timely. Don’t believe that first part. What is the term for an older man who dates a younger woman? No, I’m not thinking Sugar Daddy. But what would you ca...more
Caitlin
If you have a vagina, you need to read this or see it performed. (If even you don't, it may help you better understand those who do!)
I performed in this most of the years I was in college as part of the national V-day campaign, and the experiences I gained there with stay with me forever. Some of the monologues are funny, some are heart-wrenching. The play is an emotional roller coaster if you let yourself get swept away in it. I only wish this would include some of the optional monologues that...more
Bunnyhugger1
Throughout reading this, I was bothered repeatedly by one major error: she frequently uses vagina when she means VULVA! It makes me cringe that a play dedicated to freeing women from shame about this most intimate of body parts can't even name it correctly.

I also didn't really connect with the monologues and no doubt that's because they were meant to be seen performed, not read. I would probably only buy this if I had already seen and enjoyed a performance.

So why 3 stars and not fewer? It's an a...more
Victoria
Mar 31, 2009 Victoria rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who giggle at the word vagina
Meh. What can I say? I found the book quite patronising. It seemed intent on making women believe that their vagina is the most important part of them, if not the only part. It was quite boring too. Perhaps I'm not closed minded or sheltered enough to enjoy it. If you feel uneasy and up tight about your vagina and what it represent, or about being a woman or anything like that, then maybe you will enjoy it. For someone who doesn't feel repressed or prudish, it seems pretty much a waste of time....more
Manny
May 15, 2012 Manny marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The US Presidential Election is now in full swing. Particularly if you are a US citizen who happens to possess a vagina, you will want to avoid this crude, tasteless, completely unamusing campaign ad. Shame on you, Real Republican Real Women Of Real America!
Kristen Gongora
I have serious epistemological concerns with this piece - but it certainly succeeds as a pro-vag manifesto. And, come on, who doesn't want to read some old lady's answer to the question "if your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?"
Art
The Vagina Monologues is guaranteed to at least start a conversation. I found Ensler's writing incredibly obnoxious, irritating, and arguably offensive in ways you don't have to be a Bible basher to see. On the other hand, for all the showiness and screaming, it's a genuinely provocative text that spies a cultural taboo and moves to destroy it with gusto. It's hard to deny the awkwardness of the word vagina, and the fact it's so difficult to even say in public has many implications which Ensler...more
Liza
Don't quite see what all the fuss is about. I suppose I don't have that many nether issues to be strongly affected by it. It also makes sense that this should be seen as a live performance and not read as a book.

This book did get me thinking that I will never make a proper "feminist". I completely fail to see my vagina as a "nexus of power" or my "center of being". I don't think there's anything particularly special about the old va-j-j. Its just an organ. Yes, a very useful one and I would not...more
Ruth
I'm glad I didn't pay good money to see this foolishness on stage. This edition (ISBN 0-375-75052-5) begins with a forward by Gloria Steinem who said she grew up hearing that area of the body referred to as "down there". She points out that the clitoris is the only human organ made solely for pleasure. She talks about the vagina as a religious symbol, even going so far as to compare the churches of Patriarchal religions to the female reproductive tract, with the aisle as the vagina and the sanc...more
Stacy
I think this book does have a certain importance, and I'm not about to deny the great charitable work/contributions it's led to. However, like a lot sensationalised feminist literature, it's not without its problems.

I'll start with the good points - it's great that Eve Ensler is encouraging such open discussion of issues like rape, sexual/domestic violence, the self-loathing and even shame that many women feel when their (or any) vagina is brought up.

It addresses the fact that, even today, we'r...more
Natalie
You can giggle all you want at the title- and you can giggle an even considerable amount more when you open the book, as well. Yes, it is in the category of "Feminism," but don't the let the stereotype dissuade you from reading. If I could sum this book up in one word, I'd say it's beautiful. I read it for a Women's Literature class several years back, and it surpassed my expectations greatly.

The idea behind the book, is generally, yes, somewhere along the line of answers to the question, "If y...more
Soham Chakraborty
Well, one thing is for sure. This deserves a read - I don't know whether I should say it or not (since I am rather conservative)- but women must read this. That is, to get a holistic, more feminine picture of female sexuality and violence against women.

We have all came across numerous incidents in our daily social life relating to violence against women. We might also have spared a minute of our lives thinking about it, pondering over the horrific act and equally tumultuous aftermath. For most...more
Rahil Swààn
bon , je sais que la plupart des algériens, arabes , et obsédés par les traditions et ce qu'on appelle le (3ayb) , éviteront de pareils livres, juste à cause du mot VAGIN ...
bref , je m'en fous moi , j'aime apprendre des trucs à propos de mon corps, apprendre à l'apprécier , à l'aimer, et à en profiter, :)
plus on apprenne sur son corps , plus on peut en profiter ..
je ne suis pas en mesure de juger les orgasmes et les relations sexuelles, puisque je n'en ai jamais eu , mais ça m'a trop aider à...more
Antje
I gave this book 4 stars, although I'm also quite critical of it.
It is very striking, and it is very short, I expected a little bit more.
I think it must be seen in the time it was written, and for what audience the play was made, that is probably middle class, "political correct", thoughtful, feminist, american people. A lot of things are funny and enjoyable, a lot of things are too strikings and too deliberately and some are simply rdiculous, e.g. "my primary resource, a place of sustenance, hu...more
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What's with the hate? 15 45 Mar 01, 2013 08:55AM  
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Eve Ensler is an internationally bestselling author and an award-winning playwright whose works include The Vagina Monologues, The Good Body, Insecure at Last, and I Am an Emotional Creature, since adapted for the stage as Emotional Creature. She is the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised more than $90 million for local groups and activis...more
More about Eve Ensler...
I am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World The Good Body In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection Insecure at Last: Losing it in Our Security-Obsessed World A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer: Writings to Stop Violence Against Women and girls

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“When you rape, beat, maim, mutilate, burn, bury, and terrorize women, you destroy the essential life energy on the planet.” 64 likes
“The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina. The heart is able to forgive and repair. It can change it's shape to let us in. It can expand to let us out. So can the vagina. It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us and bleed and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world. So can the vagina. I was there in the room. I remeber.” 42 likes
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