The Vagina Monologues, first written by Eve Ensler, features a varying number of monologues that are generally performed by a different actress for each role. It covers aspects of the feminine lifestyle including sex, love, rape, menstruation, birth, orgasm and the vagina.
The play has been a staple in Mount Holyoke College, an all-women’s school, since the 1990s. According to Elizabeth Nolan Brown, the school would put on a production of the play every year as a way to “celebrate the vagina” and women’s sexuality. This ritual will end this year due to concerns that the play is “not inclusive enough.”
In an email sent school-wide, Erin Murphy, a student at Mount Holyoke, explained that, “At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.
“Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”
According to the NY Daily News, the performers at Mount Holyoke told a Facebook group page that they have decided to create their own original play called “The Student Body” which will focus on sex and gender. The group also criticized Ensler’s play, claiming that it “fails the trans community in a lot of ways.”
This decision may be related to the college’s major change in admission policy in September 2014. The college decided to not only allow cisgender females ("cis" refers to those whose gender identity matches their body), but others who identify as women as well.
"We recognize that what it means to be a woman is not static," said Lynn Pasquerella, the school's president. "Just as early feminists argued that reducing women to their biological functions was a foundation of women’s oppression, we acknowledge that gender identity is not reducible to the body. And we are mindful that exclusion from the category of 'woman' based on properties of birth is nothing new."
After Mount Holyoke took a major step towards full inclusion of transgender women in their institution, they continued to be a pioneer in the support of transgender women by ending their production of Ensler’s outdated play. Their new set of monologues promises be more inclusive than Ensler's monologues and continue to pioneer progressive change.