Reading Group Guide for The Vagina Monologues and issues of violence against women
1. "The Vagina Monologues" is based on interviews that Eve Ensler did with hundreds of real women. Is there a particular monologue or part of a monologue that you feel is relevant to your OWN life or experience?
2. Which is your favorite monologue and why?
3. In her introduction to "The Vagina Monologues," Eve Ensler writes "Vagina. There, I've said it. Vagina - said it again." The word "vagina" is used more than 100 times in "The Vagina Monologues." How comfortable do you feel saying the word? Would you be willing to have "a vagina interview?" Do you think most women are comfortable talking about their vaginas?
4. "The Vagina Monologues" has been presented as a commercial production in many cities in the United States and abroad, sometimes with Eve Ensler as the performer, sometimes with trios of well-known actresses and personalities as the performers, and sometimes with more than a dozen female performers. Which manifestation of the play as a performance do you think would serve it best? And are there places in the world where you think the play would NOT be well-received? If so, why?
5. "The Vagina Monologues" has also been the centerpiece of hundreds of non-commercial worldwide productions presented by V-Day, a movement to stop violence against women and girls. For several years the V-Day College and Worldwide Campaigns have been inviting schools and community groups around the world to present benefit productions of "The Vagina Monologues" on their campuses and in their communities on or around V-Day (Valentine's Day). To date, more than 1,000 of these productions have taken place. ALL V-Day events use "The Vagina Monologues" as a tool to raise money and awareness to stop sexual violence. Proceeds from the events go to local, national and international organizations already working to stop violence against women and girls. Do you think this is an effective use of the play? Where in the world do you believe such a production would be welcomed? Needed? Criticized?
6. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 1996 "National Crime Victimization Survey," somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ May 2000 "Intimate Partner Violence" report states that from 1993-1998, women ages 16 to 24 experienced the highest per capita rates of intimate violence (19.6 per 1,000 women). Morocco’s Penal Code states that murder, injury and beating are excusable if they are committed by a husband on his wife (as well as the accomplice at the moment) if he catches them in the act of adultery. The Feminist Majority described the inhumane situation for women in Afghanistan: Upon seizing power in Afghanistan in 1996, the Taliban, an extremist militia, instituted a system of "gender apartheid" that stripped women and girls of their basic human rights and effectively thrust them into a state of virtual house arrest. Women were prohibited from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative. And they were forced to wear burqas, garments that cover their bodies from head to toe with only a small opening through which to see. These are just two of many such humiliations and horrors that women suffered and still suffer in Afghanistan. How aware are you of the problem of violence against women in your community? In your state? In your country? In the world? How aware do think others are?
7. Numerous organizations offer information and support to educate people about and to fight violence against women and girls, including V-Day, the Feminist Majority and Equality Now, among many others. Do you think people are aware that such resources exist and do you think they are utilized?
8. How do you think both men and women would benefit from reading or seeing "The Vagina Monologues"? What reactions do you think people of each sex have to it?
9. Do you think the play is relevant to people of all ages and ethnicities?
10. What will your community look like when violence against women and girls no longer exists? Envision it. Describe it.