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The Guardian (London): Letter to the Editor


06/23/2001

"Yes, we feel good about our vaginas"

By Eve Ensler, Writer of "The Vagina Monologues"

I do not usually respond to reviews or articles, but there was something about Catherine Bennett's tone (I heard Maureen Lipman say the 'c' word).

Take her cynical comment: "The Vagina Monologues.....a global industry, showing in 25 countries with comprehensive backing of websites,chat-rooms, a book,T-shirts, a sort of bien pensant version of Cats."

Production of the Monologues around North America have raised over £2m for local, national and international groups campaigning to stop violence against women. Productions in the West End are raising money to support groups such as Amnesty, London Rape Crisis Centre, Newham Asian women's Project, Southall Black Sisters' Refuge and Women's Aid. I don't believe that Cats ever did what pussies are doing.

Catherine Bennett makes the assumption that people who wear Nicole Farhi suits are not "in need of assistance." What is equalising about violence towards women is that it makes no distinction between class, race or age.

Recent UN statistics show that one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. When I started performing the Monologues so many women queued up to tell me how they had been beaten or raped. This is what launched the V-Day movement.

Catherine says: "Ensler's work is intended to heal. How different it would be in Saudi Arabia." There are clandestine productions scheduled for the Muslim world in the coming year. Thousands of dollars from V-Day have gone to supporting the women who are dying in Afghanistan.

And Catherine asks: "Would a Bosnian rape victim enjoy the show?" The Monologues have been performed in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Kosovo. There is a V-Peace tour in 2001 with productions all over the Balkans. Thousands of pounds have been raised for the Centre for Women War Victims in Zagreb, a group central to the support of Bosnian rape survivors. V-Day has opened the first rape crisis centre in the Balkans.

Why wouldn't Catherine Bennett, as a woman in 2001, be thrilled to see women cheering about their vaginas? I can only assume she does not feel good about her own.