Girls Suspended over 'Vagina Monologues'

  1. Girls suspended over 'Vagina Monologues'

    Updated Tue. Mar. 6 2007 10:13 PM ET
    Associated Press
    A public high school has suspended three students who disobeyed officials by saying the word "vagina" during a reading from a well-known feminist play.

    The honor students, Megan Reback, Elan Stahl and Hannah Levinson, included the word during their reading of "The Vagina Monologues" because, "It wasn't crude and it wasn't inappropriate and it was very real and very pure," Reback said.

    Their defiant stand is being applauded by the play's author, who said Tuesday that the school should be celebrating, rather than punishing, the three juniors.

    "Don't we want our children to resist authority when it's not appropriate and wise?" said Eve Ensler, author of "The Vagina Monologues."

    The excerpt from "Monologues" was read Friday night, among various readings at an event sponsored by the literary magazine at John Jay High School in Cross River, a New York City suburb. Among the other readings was a student's original work and the football coach quoting Shakespeare.

    The girls took turns reading the excerpt until they came to the word, then said it together.

    "My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women's army," they read. "I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina's country."

    The play, presented as various women's thoughts about sexual subjects, has become a phenomenon since Ensler first performed it off-Broadway where it had a lengthy run. All-star readings are common, and on "V-Day" each year -- usually Feb. 14_ it is often performed by volunteers and college students to battle violence against women.

    The suspension outraged some parents, who circulated an e-mail calling the punishment a "blatant attempt at censorship."

    But Principal Richard Leprine said Tuesday that the girls were punished because they disobeyed orders, not because of what they said.

    The event was open to the community, including children, and the word was not appropriate, Leprine said in a statement. He said the girls had been told when they auditioned that they could not use the word.

    Reback said Tuesday that no one in the audience was younger than high school age. "What did we do that was so wrong?" she asked. "We were insubordinate, but the reason we were insubordinate was that we talked about our body."

    The school "recognizes and respects student freedom of expression," Leprine said. "That right, however, is not unfettered."

    "When a student is told by faculty members not to present specified material because of the composition of the audience and they agree to do so, it is expected that the commitment will be honored and the directive will be followed," he said. "When a student chooses not to follow the directive, consequences follow."

    Bob Lichtenfeld, superintendent of the Katonah-Lewisboro school district, which includes John Jay, said that had the teens, who are in their third year of high school, wanted to perform the play, they would probably not have met opposition.

    "As long as the intended audience knows what to expect, we don't have a problem with it."

    Ensler said the girls were right for "standing up for art and against censorship."

    "The school's position is absurd, a throwback to the Dark Ages," she said. "So what, if children were to hear the word? Would that be terrible? We're not talking about plutonium here, or acid rain, a word that destroys lives. It's a body part!"

    She said she called the girls to support them because "the school put them in an impossible position."

    The girls said they had the support of their parents. "To me, they were reciting literature in an educational forum and they did it with grace and dignity," said Dana Stahl, Elan Stahl's mother.

    The girls will all serve one-day, in-school suspensions, beginning Wednesday.

    "Monologue" performances occasionally provoke controversy.

    Conservative Catholics criticized the University of Notre Dame's decision to allow a performance on campus last April. This year, student planners could not get an academic sponsor. And in 2005, the Ugandan government banned a benefit performance of the play to raise money for war-affected African women.
  2. Okay, if the school did not want the girls to say 'vagina' why did they allow the girls to read the play in the first place. You can't really read a passage from that play without saying the word.
    (It doesn't sound as meaningful when it's titled The Hoo-ha Monologues.)

    Second of all, it's a clinical term and it's not being used in a crude way.

    The school's position is that they suspended the girls for disobeying orders, and not for what they said.
  3. :roflmfao:
  4. Wow, when I was doing theatre in high-school the teacher told us "go on say it, it's not like you don't know it allready" when it came to saying rude words. I find this astounding, and extremely rediculous!
  5. I am sure the same parents who cried foul at this took their little darlings home and let them play violent games on the game cube. :rolleyes:

  6. lol ITA
  7. Exactly!

    What in the world is wrong with saying, talking about etc of the vagina.
  8. Wow. High school juniors suspended over the use of the word "vagina."


    Oh... I'm sorry, not bc they said "vagina" but because they said "vagina" when they were told not to say "vagina." :confused1: :roflmfao:

    Kids don't listen when you tell them not to swear in public... what makes you think they'd listen when you tell them not to use a perfectly legitimate health/medical term?

    My support is with the students! Go girls!

  9. And just to be fair to the gentlemen, apparently you're not suppose to say "Scrotum" either. The book The Higher Power of Lucky is being banned from libraries because it has the word scrotum in it. With One Word, Children’s Book Sets Off Uproar - New York Times

    I honestly don't get it. What do parents tell their children? "You have a hoo-ha and your brother has a noodle?" They're clinical words, not dirty words. I really wonder about the mindset of the people that think those words are dirty.
  10. :roflmfao: ITA!!!
  11. This is assinine...oh wait. I said ass! They'll probably try to ban that word next. Since when is a clinical, official word to describe a body part wrong to say? And why vagina and scrotum? What about testicle or labia...or...CLITORIS!!!! Cover my virgin ears!! But really, it's not like this is gonna matter cause we all know how effective abstinence only sex ed is. These kids won't ever see those body parts til they're well off to college and out of the public schooling system.
  12. That's really silly, it is a part of the body!! It's not like they were screaming c*nt.
  13. Girls need to have the ability to use this term in order to be able to have a dialogue about their bodies and their sexuality. Banning the term "vagina" is in effect banning health discussion of sexuality, because I'd bet that other terms that aren't clinical and technical in nature would be banned, too. That's ridiculous and unhealthy. It isn't a dirty word.
  14. so, let me get this straight. it's a performance of VAGINA MONOLOGUES without saying VAGINA?! are you kidding me?!

    i'm just surprised these girls can say vagina without giggling. god knows i hear college students who still giggle at vagina (or penis)- let alone high school kids...

    the play is not dirty...and sure as hell, a body part (or the name of it) is not dirty. this is utterly ridiculous.
  15. I have seen the Vagina Monologues and it is excellent. It is funny at times and it is downright truthful to hear some of those monologues. :yes:

    The principle should have told those girls not to do the monologues in its entirety if he didn't want to hear the word "vagina." Now since he told them it was okay, you cannot take the words out to fit your mood. Sorry, it just doesn't work that way, otherwise the audience will not understand the concept of the monologues. It is art, itis life and instead of this principle acting 4 years old and thinking it is dirty, he needs to get over it. Vagina is a clinical term used to describe female parts, it sounds like he is the type of person to cringe at that word and penis for males. Shame on him for acting 4 years old and teaching students to not use proper terms. This is one of the reasons children usually say "cutesy" words instead of proper terms.

    If I was one those girls' parents, I would be "raising hell" about my child serving in school suspension. I would not let them and the principle would have serious problems. I think that is unacceptable period. If he didn't like the word/work of the monologues, then he shouldn't have let them do them in the first place.

    I totally applaud those girls for doing the right thing, that might have been hard for others but they definitely did the right thing. :smartass: