Ask Camile Paglia Can men and women just be friends?: Ask Camile Paglia

By patrick on Wednesday, May 2, 2001 - 03:29 pm:

    I miss this women as a columnist for The Advocate;

    I wanted to share this with you. A refreshing view of the Vagina Monologues by Betty Dodson and Camile

    On to another controversy: Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues, which this column has rejected as a reactionary piece of victim-obsessed paleofeminism. I was delighted to receive a response from one of the leading figures of the sexual revolution, the artist and sexologist Betty Dodson, a foremother of the pro-sex wing of feminism that revived in the 1990s. Dodson agreed with my statement that Ensler is the new Andrea Dworkin: "Eve is the Barbie Doll version of Andrea. It's so very toxic, and no one sees it." She kindly gave permission for me to quote from her review of "The Vagina Monologues," available in full on her Web site.
    Dodson first saw "The Vagina Monologues" as an off-off-off Broadway play in 1996. She had been told that the author and one-woman performer, Eve Ensler, was mentioning Dodson's pioneering sex workshops. But when she attended the play, Dodson heard only "a distorted view" of what she had been doing in her Bodysex Workshop for over 25 years. Ensler called it "The Vagina Workshop." Dodson insists, "Never in my wildest nightmares would I have ever considered using the word 'vagina.'"

    Dodson calls "one of the great sexual tragedies in history" Sigmund Freud's theory "that the clitoris is an infantile source of pleasure and that as a woman matures her sexual sensations are transferred to the vagina." From her practical experience as a counselor, Dodson feels that this theory has kept untold numbers of women from becoming orgasmic. Dodson maintains that the clitoris, with its "8,000 nerve endings," is woman's "primary sex organ."
    After the 1996 performance, Dodson confronted Ensler backstage about never mentioning the word "clitoris." Two years later, Dodson received two complimentary tickets from Ensler for the Ms. Foundation benefit performance of "The Vagina Monologues" at a New York ballroom. Now movie stars were part of the performance. Ensler again mentioned Dodson's name onstage and had also added "clitoris" to the text. But something had gone wrong:

    Betty Dodson:
    The format for "The Vagina Monologues" had dramatically changed. The audience was brought to a delirious high during the first half only to be dashed into hopeless despair during the second half. We were plunged down, drowning in a sea filled with the horrors of sexual violence against women.
    So what did I expect with the Ms. crew on board? They have never been able to talk about sex without bringing up rape, abuse, beatings, and genital mutilation. It was déjà vu. In the seventies, Ms. had held up publication of my article "Liberating Masturbation" for more than two years, fearing they'd lose subscriptions. Also it was Ms. who supported Woman Against Pornography in the eighties. The idea that feminists were pushing for the censorship of sexual entertainment forced many of us to feel the need to identify ourselves as pro-sex feminists.
    Now in the nineties they had done it again. "V" no longer stood for vagina. It stood for violence. Sex and violence, never sex and pleasure. Talking about sexual pleasure when there is so much sexual violence against women would be inappropriate, insensitive and politically incorrect. And who is to blame for all the sexual violence against women? According to Ms. and other fundamentalist feminists, it's still the patriarchy.... That night I wondered how men in the audience felt after being nailed as "the enemy." It's my bet that the men attending V-Day were all staunch supporters of equal rights for women. But here they were, faced with the same old male-bashing of the sixties and seventies.
    It's very difficult to criticize V-Day without sounding anti-woman or pro-violence. Dare we ask why so many feminists think women have cornered the market on being victimized by violence? Will we sound too insensitive in mentioning the violence caused by poverty, hunger, and wars that affect women, men and children of both genders? Are we to ignore all the wives who verbally abuse and dominate husbands? Shall we pretend there are no mothers who all too frequently raise a hand to punish their children?

    This past February, Dodson attended the V-Day benefit held at New York's Madison Square Garden, where Ensler's monologues were read by 100 women, including stars like Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Glenn Close, Claire Danes and Marisa Tomei. There was now "big corporate sponsorship," and the play was being performed "in hundreds of colleges and universities here and abroad." Dodson declares:

    That night at Madison Square Garden I felt violated when I realized "The Vagina Monologues" and V-Day had become a bait and switch operation. The ruse is to get everyone excited about hearing famous women saying the words "vagina," "clitoris," and "cunt," only to bring us down with statistics about rape and the sexual abuse of women ... This powerful venue, Madison Square Garden, sends us home feeling guilty about all the women in Africa, Bosnia and Afghanistan who are being raped, tortured and genitally mutilated. Many leave with the false belief that all the millions raised will actually end sexual violence against women ... ..
    Eve is no longer the disarming young woman delivering her monologues. She has become an evangelical minister shouting and gesturing and admonishing us to demand an end to violence against women, as the crowd roars in agreement. Toward the end of the evening, Eve asked everyone who'd ever been raped to stand up. There was a smattering of women standing where I was sitting. Then she asked for those women who had been beaten to stand. Many more stood up. Finally she asked all those to stand who knew any woman who'd been raped or beaten, which included most of the audience. I refused to stand as an insignificant protest, knowing she would never ask those of us who had never been raped or beaten and who loved having orgasms to stand.
    That's the main problem with V-Day. Women end up celebrating sexual violence and not the creative or regenerative pleasures of erotic love. Ending violence is a worthy cause, and I'm all for it. But consistently equating sex with violence offers no solution.

By LARRY CAVAZOS on Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 08:02 pm:


By Antigone on Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 08:12 pm:

    Try Google.


By Gee on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 11:16 am:

    but not at the same time. NEVER at the same time.

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