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message 1: by Bob (new)

Bob | 3 comments I'm just using that title to refer to the monologue I'm talking about. If anyone has a different title for that monologue that fits better feel free to suggest what we could call this thread.

This monologue got me thinking about the line of what constitutes sexual abuse. In this monologue we have the story of a child who grows up not understanding her own vagina and getting very little guidance other than to stuff it up, hide it, and never let it be touched (not to mention is impaled at one point, making me wince even as a guy).

Next we have Alfred, who very clearly abuses the girl and is shot by the girl's father (we can start a whole new thread about justice here. I'm not a father, but I could see myself losing the sense of mercy if I saw anything of the sort happening to my own daughter).

Finally, there's the 24 year old girl. The 24 year old woman picks the girl up in her car and not too much later kisses the girl. Then she invites the girl over to spend the night and they end up having sex and she ends up teaching the young girl about her body.

There seems to be a positive ending with the young girl coming away from the experience feeling empowered and with a new respect for her womanhood, however I see the 24 year old woman in much of the same light as Alfred. She was not nearly as forceful, but she still preyed on a young and unexperienced child. Is one of the points of the monologue to highlight the different types of sexual abuse? Or is the 24 year old woman generally seen in a positive role? Curious to see how the rest of the community viewed this monologue.

message 2: by Jamie (new)

Jamie I was wondering that myself. To me, abuse is abuse weather the girl was happy about it or not, but I can't quite tell if that's the point.

message 3: by Brooke (new)

Brooke (brookerileysnow) I think the narrator sees the 24 year old as a positive role. I was in this play twice in college and have seen many productions of it, and that is the way the actor portraying the young girl usually plays it.
I feel like it's extremely off putting, though, and I always felt uncomfortable with this monologue.

message 4: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Jean (carolinejean) | 8 comments I'm happy this is discussed, because I was feeling odd too with this monologue :/

I note however that the narrator say that "what this woman did was bad, but...".

In french, in my edition, this monologue is titled "petit minou deviendra grand", what we can translate by "little pussy will become big/will grow".

message 5: by Izzy (new)

Izzy (isobel_skate) I think, that while the now grown girl believes that this is bad, she viewed the experience in a positive light at the time. It helped with the negative thoughts she had about her vagina in the past due to her traumatising experiences such as with Alfred, providing a positive outlook on the experience. As time has gone by, it is clear that the woman did wrong to the girl but what she taught her about herself has not been forgotten.

message 6: by Bob (new)

Bob | 3 comments It's a tough monologue to dissect. On one side I want to be supportive and happy for the girl overcoming an incredibly rough upbringing and coming into a proud womanhood, but on the other side I want her to understand what happened to her with the 24 year old woman. By no means to shame her. Just so that she's aware of what happened to her and can prevent herself or others from doing the same thing to other vulnerable children.

message 7: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (virg4990) | 3 comments I just read this monologue and had similar thoughts. I also wondered how well she knew this 24 year old. The story makes it seem like she was somewhat of a stranger- she describes her as a gorgeous 24 year girl in her neighborhood. She willingly gets into her car and then her mom let's her spend the night at this woman's apartment. I feel like she had to know her on some level. Do you think that makes it any less wrong?

On a totally unrelated note: I couldn't help but giggle over the name "coochie snorcher." :D

message 8: by Mendy (last edited Jan 08, 2017 12:20PM) (new)

Mendy I don't have much to add here, but I wanted to say I'm relieved some people are having this discussion about the monologue. When people talk about the VM I rarely hear them talk about this part. I don't know if this means fans of Eve Ensler/the VM prefer to pretend it doesn't exist, or if they're actually fine with what is being described. Or if it doesn't even register.
If the 24 year old had been a man, I imagine there would be more criticism, even if the narrator had felt equally empowered afterwards. Imagine a 24 year old man offering vodka to a young girl and asking her to masturbate in front of him, because he just finds it 'so beautiful'.
I guess it's part of a wider dialogue about empowerment as a result from otherwise disempowering situations. And how willing are we to criticise one individual's road to empowerment if it comes at the cost of the group?
I'll be honest, seeing child sexual abuse portrayed so positively makes me feel pretty disgusted with the whole thing, although admittedly I don't like the rest either. I thought some of the other monologues were cringeworthy, but it's one thing to describe a positive change in one's life in a silly or childish way, it's another thing to describe sexual abuse in a romanticized way.

message 9: by Jess (new)

Jess (httpjessicalwheeler16tumblrcom) | 1 comments So I did a quick Google about this topic and came across this article from 2000 which raises similar concerns to those being raised here. https://web.archive.org/web/200607161... Apparently, there was such backlash that this writer lost his job, which I find concerning. While I don't feel equipped to comment on his last two paragraphs regarding the appropriateness of the play at a Catholic University (whole other can of worms), I think that it's important that people be free to be critical without being punished. Shutting these things down while arguing for equality is so blatantly hypocritical it can only hurt the cause.

On the topic at hand, this child was too young to consent to what happened, no matter how much she enjoyed it and how liberating it was for her. And let's not forget that this woman was interviewed in a homeless shelter. It sounds like she had a really difficult, complex life and while subjectively for her this was a good experience, it doesn't mean we need to condone statutory rape commityed by man or woman.

message 10: by Iana (new)

Iana | 16 comments This monologue also gave me a lot to think about. Comparing what Alfred did and what the 24 year old woman did, Alfred was more brutal while the woman was a bit gentle but it still does not mean that what she did was okay. The girl was clearly a minor and the lady giving her vodka probably impaired her perception of things. The act might have given the girl a new way of looking at her vagina, making her love herself more but what was done to her was still not right at all.

message 11: by Maria (new)

Maria | 1 comments I just read this monologue and I felt really perturbed, wondering if what I just read was a good woman helping a lost girl, and this ended up in permitted sex, or just another kind of sexual abuse. I read it a second time to be sure that I haven't misunderstood anything (english is not my native language, so sometimes I need to read twice to understand a complex sentence or text). But not, definitely, after read it for second time, I was sure about what was written down there.
It's a complex issue, she says she enjoyed it but it was never her choice. She also tells how, because of this experience, she was "saved" by this woman, empowered and happened to known herself better. It's a dichotomy. Was it good? Was it bad? The way she tells her "politically incorrect salvation" it makes me think that maybe she feels this was the best thing that ever happened to her. (Please note that I don't think it was good. It's just what I guess she may think. Under my point of view this was clearly sex abuse.)

On the other hand, this woman, the way she was conducting her to do whatever she wanted, it makes me think that maybe she wasn't her first "victim", but this is another story.
It is disappointing to think that sexual abuse it may come either from men or women, when we should help, respect and protect each other.

message 12: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 18 comments I think that it's perceived as a good thing because the monologue is in the perspective of the girl. If the monologue belonged to anyone else, it would be perceived in a completely different way. After she was raped, and the forced concealment of her vagina from her mother, to have someone cherish her in the way that the 24 year old woman did was the best thing that ever happened to her.

message 13: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Blackstone (rngrad_2006) | 4 comments I too saw the 24 year old women in the same light as Alfred. Many may not bc she was more gentle in her abuse of her power over the young girl.

message 14: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Thompson | 62 comments It is sexual abuse which happened to help the victim. It still wasn't OK though.

message 15: by Ana, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Ana PF | 746 comments Mod
I think Theresa has a point here. To me, it totally is sexual abuse. However, for a girl who has gone through so much and who was taught to be ashamed and/or scared of her parts, well, it read differently.

Add me to the list of those who were a bit...uneasy about this particular monologue, though.

message 16: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (mich2689) | 11 comments I also found this monologue uncomfortable and disturbing. The 24 year old seduced and gave alcohol to an underage person. That is wrong. If everything else about the story was the same but the 24 year old female was replaced by a male, I'm sure many more would be horrified. To me, feminism is about gender equality and I did not get that message from this monologue.

message 17: by Melle (new)

Melle (feministkilljoy13) | 68 comments I agree. I have a 15 year old and just thinking about it made me feel super uncomfortable. That lady was clearly a predator.

message 18: by Jule (last edited Jan 16, 2017 08:33AM) (new)

Jule (beautifulletters) | 16 comments I totally agree with all of you feeling a bit uneasy/uncomfortable when it comes to this particular monologue. I found it a bit confusing to read and I didn't quite know what to make out of it. The difference between how the situation is portrayed (as something that saved her, made her very happy) and how one might perceive it (as sexual abuse) makes it a complicated monologue to engage with.
I also wanted to add that she is 13 in the original version, but later versions changed her age to 16 (I also noticed that while watching the HBO documentary). Maybe in an intent to make it seem a little less predatory? (Although it doesn't really make anything better, it could maybe seem less dangerous to some people at the first glance?) It also originally included the line, "If it was rape, it was a good rape", which was removed from later versions.

message 19: by Melle (new)

Melle (feministkilljoy13) | 68 comments Jule wrote: "I totally agree with all of you feeling a bit uneasy/uncomfortable when it comes to this particular monologue. I found it a bit confusing to read and I didn't quite know what to make out of it. The..."

Yikes - well see! Our creep factor was justified.

message 20: by Jo (new)

Jo Rocca | 17 comments I felt as though in this monologue the girl was taking all the negative experiences she had and finding a silver lining. She obviously recognizes it as wrong, especially looking back on it as an adult, but if she were to focus on that fact rather than her empowerment, her entire outlook on life might have changed and she might never have opened up again and become that 70 year old woman finally discovering her sexuality for the first time. Objectively, it was terrible what happened to her, but knowing what she took from it shows who she is as a woman today.

message 21: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 66 comments Mendy wrote: "If the 24 year old had been a man, I imagine there would be more criticism, even if the narrator had felt equally empowered afterwards. Imagine a 24 year old man offering vodka to a young girl and asking her to masturbate in front of him, because he just finds it 'so beautiful'."

I think this is the key to viewing whether it's a double standard or not. "If it had been a man..." do we treat men and women the same way in these circumstances? There have been other cases where a man has made a girl feel empowered in this way, although the circumstances were very wrong.

I like your thoughts on this, Jo, that even though the situation itself was someone taking advantage of the vulnerability of someone else, the victim is able to see and take the positive from it, not just ignoring the past, but seeing the way it also empowered her.... I can distantly relate to that after getting out of a marriage of verbal abuse, where my experiences (and distance from them) have made me more appreciative of truly loving people and being able to love myself. Different circumstances, but same idea of taking the positive from the negative.

message 22: by Sierra (new)

Sierra | 42 comments I know I am way late to the game on this conversation - but I'm newer to this community and catching up on books. I read this book in one sitting and I remember pondering this older woman having this affair with the girl as being disturbing.

Many of these monologues are meant to be challenging and this one is no different. It really intensifies how confusing and tormenting sexual abuse often is. While we on the outside can see this as obvious child abuse, but in the shoes of the girl, this has been her most positive encounter with her vagina yet, so she might not see it that way. Even if she knows that the 24 year old was wrong in retrospect (or even in the moment), this is the least amount of violence her vagina has ever received, so she might not see it as a negative.

We are supposed to be concerned about this abuse of power, but we also need to recognize it is not our story, and that our relationships to our body are complicated. Yes this story is challenging, but for the girl whose story this is, we need to respect all her hardships and understand that her positives our not our positives. All we can do is accept her and her story, and work hard to help stop sexual abuse in our own communities.

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