Early this year, I blogged about a controversy related to The Vagina Monologues, in a post titled “Life Imitates The Onion.” An excerpt:
David Kaufman points to this fantastic story:
They silently stood hand in hand with gray duct tape pasted across their lips and “Vagina Warriors” emblazoned on the back of their white shirts. The front of the shirts had different messages: “Warning: Hostile Vagina,” “Not all vaginas are skinny, white + straight” and “My cunt is not represented here.”
About 10 people gathered in front of Agate Hall on Friday to protest what they called a lack of representation of different kinds of women in “The Vagina Monologues” production, which ran Thursday through Saturday at the Agate Hall auditorium.
In flyers handed out to audience members at the show, University graduate Nicole Sangsuree Barrett wrote that while there was “diversity” in the show, it was minimal. Women of “a variety of skin colors, body sizes, abilities and gender expressions” were not adequately represented, she said.
“I would just like to call attention to the fact that this could have been a more diverse cast, but a safe and welcoming environment was not created for people that I consider to be ‘underrepresented,'” Barrett said in the statement. . . .
[Barrett] added that the show’s organizers didn’t offer a safe space for people of different backgrounds.
“Know that what you are seeing tonight is not the result of an inclusive process,” Barrett said in the statement. “Know that this space was not one where honest questions and concerns about race were tolerated.” . . .
[Senior Melissa Ballard said] only one . . . woman of color remained in the show. “Plus size” and queer women were also not well-represented, she said.
[Senior Natalie Mays, the show’s assistant director,] said she completely understands and supports the need for diversity.
“No way would I intentionally alienate anyone,” she said. “It breaks my heart that different people feel alienated by this show.”
Mays said about 85 people auditioned for the show and there wasn’t a large pool of “visible” people of color to choose from. She said it is also not always possible to tell one’s ethnicity or sexual orientation just by looking at the person, adding that she does not usually ask people what their sexual orientation is at an audition.
Mays, who is part Native American herself, said she mainly wanted strong women with passion and dedication when she made the casting decisions. . . .
Breaks my heart! Where’s that safe and welcoming space? All cunts should be represented. And women of a variety of abilities, too (it took me a while to get this, but I think this is a euphemism for disabled women, rather than a call for women with different acting abilities, or, er, sexual skills). Priceless. If you’re looking for more, check out this follow-up story in the Oregon Daily Emerald, “Tensions explode at ‘Vagina’ discussion.” My favorite quote is in the closing paragraph: “‘Nobody here is a bad person,’ she said. ‘Nobody here failed at the show. We failed as a community.'” It obviously takes a village to put on the Vagina Monologues.
Oh, and readers: Know that what you are seeing on this blog is not the result of an inclusive process.
I was wrong, wrong, wrong! It turns out that variety of abilities really did mean variety of abilities. Olly Ruff (Oregon Commentator Online) pointed to this article which revealed, among other things, that:
In addition to securing a more diverse cast, the selection committee will also be looking to include activists and community members who are involved with women’s issues.
Pete said the committee will select people who are “not necessarily drama-oriented” in favor of “people who work (toward) ‘The Vagina Monologues’ mission of ending violence against women.”
Women’s Center spokeswoman Stefanie Loh said the de-emphasis on acting ability will provide a “down to earth” feel to the production as well as allow the producers to be more inclusive in their casting.
“The fact that they had auditions means that some people are automatically excluded,” she said.
Not just some people — some vaginas! “Not all vaginas are skinny, white + straight,” or, apparently, have acting ability.