Yvonne Dean-Bailey, Campus Reform, January 15, 2015
Mount Holyoke College, an all-women’s college in Massachusetts, is retiring its annual production of the Vagina Monologues this year because the play is not inclusive of transgender students.
The annual production of the play is part of a country-wide tradition to perform Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence and usually coincides with the V-Day campaign. The proceeds are donated to sexual assault prevention organizations or women’s rights organizations.
This year, however, Mount Holyoke’s Project Theatre Board is defying tradition by permanently retiring the play. In a school-wide email from the Theatre Board, a representative from the group, Erin Murphy, explained the problems with the play and the reasoning behind its discontinuation.
“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 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,” the email, obtained by Campus Reform, said.
Replacing the play will be Mount Holyoke’s own version that will be trans-inclusive and fix the “problems” supposedly perpetuated by Ensler. Murphy also claims that there are problems with race, class, and “other identities” within the play.
The college recently expanded its definition of a woman when it announced it will be accepting men who identify as women in the upcoming 2015 admissions cycle. A video also recently circulated from the college, explaining Mount Holyoke’s new definition of a woman.