Sorry, guys. I need to get you to stop watching football for a moment. Really. It’s important.
It’s about an interview I saw on the state funded, national broadcaster; the ABC here in Australia. That the interview did no harm to the feminist movement shows how indestructible the feminist cause is. Indeed, had any other movement whether political, religious or social in nature offered up anything like this logic it would have been treated with ridicule and contempt.
However, because we are dealing with feminism, the babble becomes sacred babble and must never be criticised. Like religion in the middle ages, feminism is the one true word. The meanings should not be questioned, but simply one should be in awe of its all encompassing correctness. Even when it is wrong, it is correctly wrong. In fact, it is wrong to point out any wrongness, in case that wrongness is seen as evidence that feminism isn’t completely correct. And that, of course, would be wrong.
What’s that got to do with football? Please, read on and all will be revealed. It could be the end of violence.
Eve Ensler wrote a play called the Vagina Monologues and, following this, helped begin the V-Day Movement to end violence against women and girls. She came to Australia last month to deliver the annual Australian Human Rights Centre lecture in Sydney.
The ABC interviewed Ensler on its news analysis program, Lateline (Ensler, We don’t own our bodies: Ensler, 2012). The ABC describes this program as “…a provocative, challenging and intelligent window on today’s world.” They continue to say, “Lateline engages the foremost experts or commentators… to bring you penetrating insights from a range of perspectives (ABC, 2012).”
The foremost expert or commentator who interviewed Ensler was Emma Alberici, who has some twenty years experience in journalism.
This, dear reader, is what passes for “an intelligent window” in Australia today.
The word “vagina”
Alberici begins the interview with a general question about her play. Ensler opens up with how “everyone” was scandalised with the word “vagina” in the 1990s. She claims that “you could say ‘Scud Missile’ on the front pages…” but, apparently “if you said vagina the whole world went crazy. “
The next part is worth quoting verbatim:
“And I think part of the reason of doing the play was that so many women I had interviewed had not only, not said the word vagina, they never saw their vaginas, they didn’t know what they looked like, they didn’t know how their vaginas functioned, they didn’t know what gave them pleasure. They didn’t even know their vaginas were their own.”
In the 1970s I attended college in Scotland. In my class, a Computer Science course, the gender mix was 50/50. Every single woman on that course knew the word vagina, and a whole lot of other words for the vagina. Twenty years later, when Ensler wrote her play, and the word vagina has mysteriously vanished from the western woman’s vocabulary?
I’m glad that Ensler points out that they had never seen their vaginas. I immediately became aware that I have never seen my own anus.
The real question, of course, is: so fucking what?
To what level should a woman understand how her vagina functions? For example, should she be able to discuss in detail what part Bartholin’s glands play?
And why? Does Ensler know how her thyroid glands work? Does she understand how wax gets in the outer ear? As long as she knows which end to stick over the toilet, where to put the tampon, etc. does it really matter?
Ensler’s final statement, that women “…didn’t even know their vaginas were their own,” is feminism at its finest. Alberici doesn’t ask “Who did they think their vaginas belonged to?” Or, “Were they just renting them?” Or “If I kicked them in the vagina, who did they think would feel it?”
Ensler tries to paint herself as the radical who is not afraid to break taboos. And to do this she will use any word she chooses, no matter how upset the establishment gets. The fact is that when the play was written and first performed in the nineties, the word “vagina” was seen as a proper and polite term to describe female genitalia. You could have “The Vagina Monologues” on a bill board and in neon lights. It may have been titillating, perhaps, even risqué, but certainly short of scandalous in Western society in the nineties.
The use of scandalous words
Ensler informs us that in China the play was banned because the Chinese only had vulgar and derogatory words for vagina.
Speaking of scandalous and vulgar words, the Vagina Monologues uses the word “cunt” 30 times. Now that word, all by itself, ensures an “Adults Only” rating in Australia. You can say it in a play with that rating, but you won’t be having “The Cunt Monologues” in neon on Main Street.
But Alberici doesn’t ask if it was the translation of “vagina” or “cunt” that caused the Chinese such problems.
In fact, the Shanghai Drama Centre was told by the Chinese authorities who banned the play that “…it does not fit with China’s national situation (USA Today, 2004).” Did Alberici ask Ensler if she was surprised that a Western play written by a “Human Rights Activist” was banned in China in 2004? No, she just lets Ensler give us the sacred babble.
The rape and domination of women by women
There are two serious aspects about her play that Alberici should have raised with Ensler, particularly given the “Human Rights Activist” tag.
The first is a section of the play which deals with the seduction of a girl by woman, which involves the woman giving the child alcohol as part of the seduction. In one version of the script I found the girl is sixteen (Ensler, Vagina Monolgues Script – The Dialogue, 1996). However, there have been reports of other versions of the script where the child was aged as young as thirteen (Swope, 2006).
In January this year a 29 year old female teacher was found guilty of the crime of having sex with a sixteen year old female student in Melbourne, Australia (Lowe, 2012). Also, note that the legal age for drinking alcohol in Australia is eighteen. In other words, Ensler’s play is describing an act that is illegal in Australia, as well as immoral anywhere.
Ensler’s monologue describes the seduction from the point of view of the child. It concludes:
“You know, I realized later, she was my surprising, unexpected, politically incorrect salvation. She transformed my sorry-ass coochie snorcher [vagina] and raised it up into a kind of heaven.”
In other words, this manipulation into a sexual act was good for the child.
This blasé attitude is also seen in another monologue in the play, where Ensler’s heroine dominates women during sex. The dialogue explains:
“Sometimes I used force, but not violent, oppressing force, no. More like dominating, ‘I’m gonna take you someplace, why don’t you lay back, enjoy the ride’ kind of force.”
So clearly, according to Ensler, domination and child sex abuse are alright when done in a feminist context. When men rape its rape, when women rape it’s “salvation,” so “lie back and enjoy the ride”.
Alberici does not ask one thing about this. How’s that for “a range of perspectives”? That’s the “let’s ignore it completely” perspective.
A world without violence against females
Now, Ensler got together with a group of friends, presumably in what became the V-Day movement, to end what she called an epidemic of violence. Specifically, she states “not manage it, not contain it, but end it.”
Given that this Utopia has never been achieved in all of human history for any group of people, including royalty, you’d think that Alberici would have one penetrating question at least about how all this would be achieved. Nope. None seemingly sprung to our expert reporter’s mind.
Ensler goes on to expound explicitly on her Utopia:
You know, see a world where women were safe and free and could wear what they wanted to wear and walk where they wanted to be and be who they wanted to be and live the lives they wanted to be without fear of attack, or harassment, or rape or innuendo or whatever it is that makes you feel less than you want to be as a woman.
Does Alberici ask Ensler why men are missing from her Utopia? Does she ask if Ensler thinks the other half of the world’s population simply does not experience violence? Does she ask Ensler about the statistics that show that men are three times more likely to be killed in a homicide (World Health Organisation, 2002)?
Does she ask Ensler why she deems innuendo as significant as rape? In an interview that discusses “rape and torture survivors”, are we now going to have “double entendre survivors”?
The suppressed girl cell
Alberici, whose interviewing technique could be called leading the cheer squad, provided another feed for another Ensler monologue.
“You talk about something you call the ‘girl cell’ and you talk about the fact that has been suppressed over time not only in women but in men. What do you mean by that? And you also say that that’s parts of the reason we see so much conflict and disaster in the world?”
There is a girl cell? One that exists in women and men? How can an educated journalist say that out loud?
Doesn’t that make it a human cell? Or is that just me questioning the sacred babble?
It’s been suppressed? Really? Not only are women in the big world being oppressed, but at the cellular level there is gender specific oppression!
Now, I’m guessing here that it is the oppression, and not the girl cell itself, that is responsible for conflict and disaster. But really, the earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes and twisters were all caused by the suppression of the girl cell?
And conflict, too? Wars are not, as previously thought, manifestations of a desire for power or resources, or defence against marauders. No, just suppressed girl cells.
Now, if you’re waiting to know what the girl cell actually is, I’m here to tell you that I have no fucking idea. The transcript goes on for pages, and Alberici asks her twice, but Ensler talks about everything and anything else without so much as a hint of what a girl cell might be. As for the subject of suppressing them, Ensler is equally busy explaining something else.
Maybe this is why Alberici doesn’t ask Ensler any hard questions. Maybe Ensler simply doesn’t do hard questions.
Why do men commit violence?
Ensler herself does tyr to ask some hard questions: “How did a man end up in a gang rape of a five year old girl?” She continues to emote, “How did a man…cut out a woman’s baby out of her belly…and destroy it? What was going on in that man that allowed that to happen?”
And the Great Ensler’s theory:
And it has to be that through the processes of patriarchy and colonialism and enslavement and poverty, impoverishment, that people end up getting further and further and further removed from their hearts and from their empathetic selves.
Where is the penetrative journalism we are promised by Lateline?
In December 2011, Heather Glendinning killed her two children and then herself in what was described as the most gory scene the Western Australian police had ever seen (WA Today, 2011).”
Earlier last year, Sidonie Thompson, a fourteen year old girl, was killed by her mother, Kim Patterson, with an axe. Kim Patterson then took her son to the Brisbane Storey Bridge where she jumped to her death (The Telegraph, 2011). How terrible would that have been for her son to witness?
Where does patriarchy, colonialism, etc. fit in here? These are atrocities in every sense. Except, and this obviously makes a difference to Alberici and Ensler, these are atrocities committed by women. Presumably, therefore, these acts simply didn’t happen.
Women in Politics
Although Ensler is not generally held as an expert on Australian politics, Alberici obviously decided to elicit some thoughts from this feminist icon on local current events. In particular, she asks Ensler about the recent treatment of the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard by the press.
Alberici asks Ensler about the “…lot of discussion… the tone in which the coverage of her policies and politics has taken a very kind of sexist or misogynist tone. Is that something quite particular to female leaders around the world?”
Now, this “discussion” was had by none other than the likes of Greens Senator Bob Brown (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2012). Brown is not an independent observer of Gillard’s government. His party has joined with Gillard’s Labor Party to allow her minority government to stay in office.
“The government would be defeated if an election was held now, according to the latest Nielsen Poll, (Nielsen, 2012)” was the poll that Brown was discussing when claiming that the treatment of Prime Minister was sexist.
Moreover, the sexism in question essentially boils down to one interview with Mike Willisee. In this interview Willisee asks Gillard “You say you’re a woman – would it be easier if you were a man?” (Prime Minister’s Office, 2012)
Apparently, it is fine for Alberici to reference Gillard’s gender to distinguish her from other politicians; it’s not OK for Willisee to ask what difference it makes to be a woman.
Alberici tries to further the misogyny discussion by referring to a certain point in Willisee’s interview, where he asks the Prime Minister if she cries much. Again, Alberici fails to show the context of the question.
In his interview, Willesee asks this question first. “Prime Minister, people talk about your lack of emotions and they’re only talking about seeing you in public. Are you a very emotional person when you go home?”
It is after she answers this question with a response that discusses emotions of love and joy, but not sadness, that Willesee asks about her crying.
It would be fair to accuse Willesee, in my opinion, of mining for sensationalist dirt on the Prime Minister, but not misogyny.
Alberici’s efforts to embroil the playwright in local controversies are in vain, however, as Ensler instead talks about powerful women in general, Hilary Clinton in particular, and Gillard not once.
Ensler’s theory on what stops women in power
Ensler expounds on a theory as to why the media, and in fact the world, takes a different microscope to female politicians, by referring to criticism of Hilary Clinton during her presidential campaign. Ensler, it seems, is not short on theories:
And I think what happens to women a lot, I think particularly when they’re powerful, is the way the media, the way the world reduces them is to focus on these very shallow, these very superficial, these very insignificant aspects, as opposed to the brilliant and wise and visionary things that they’re saying.
And I think that’s very clever because it gets women then to focus on these very insignificant things about themselves. Like their body and being skinny and worrying about ageing and worrying about fat and worrying about … so then women end up spending their days fixing this little country [themselves] as opposed to fixing the world.
These powerful, brilliant, wise and visionary women are undone because someone says her arse looks big in those pants?
No need for political skulduggery; for difficult questions in parliament; for leaked reports; for damaging emails; or for getting the numbers for a particular piece of legislation. Just ask her how she could possibly think those earrings would match anything else in her wardrobe.
And more: It’s clever. Really?
Even more: Undo Clinton and women everywhere start worrying about their wrinkles, their clothes, their fashion. Every single one of them driven to distraction by one master stroke of sexism. Did ageing cream sales increase when Clinton dropped out of the presidential race?
The real important thing to not miss is that women are too busy fixing their make up to fix the world. What does this say about these women or feminism?
It is these kinds of statements that one expects of misogynists. Is Ensler really implying that female politicians are just empty headed bimbos?
Would Alberici have been justified in asking “If women are as easily diverted from their political goals as you say, what good would they be in a leadership role?” Or “What if Clinton had been elected and, say, China or Russia decided to criticise her latest hairdo a few days before launching a nuclear strike?” Or “If deciding what to wear with a particular jacket is too hard, how hard is the Greek financial crisis?”
Moreover, implied here is that while these women are busy attending their manicures, men are just running about fucking things up. Apparently that’s all they can do. Just when a woman sees the problem and decides to fix it, the bastards just say “Didn’t you wear that last week?” and she’s undone. A vicious cycle!
Alberici accepts this theory like most people accept the theory of gravity. It goes up, it comes down; the bigger the mass, the more attraction – got that. Men are useless, world’s a mess, women can fix it, men criticise women’s appearances, world stays in a mess. You’re so right.
Ensler’s theory of power
Alberici asked Ensler a convoluted question about women in power acting the same as men. In other words, have we really seen a woman in power yet? Or, to put it another way, have we only seen, with the likes of Thatcher, Ghandi, Meyer, Merkel and others, women acting like a man so that they can get into power? This drivel allows another monologue on the meaning of power.
Dear reader, you’ll be relieved to know that the power of men, that is “the power to dominate; the power to control,” is not the kind of power Ensler is interested in. Instead, she is “…interested in the power that includes, the power that feeds, the power that sees all the people at the table, the power that is moved by the heart…”
Is that the same power that is easily undermined by questions of how much cleavage should a dress reveal? Alberici doesn’t ask, so we’ll never know.
Ensler’s definition of feminism
Alberici, for no apparent reason, asks “Do you think the word “feminism” has become a dirty word?”
You’ll be glad you got this far, dear reader, because Ensler defines feminism for us:
Feminism means that women have the right to equality. That women have a right to voice, a right to equal pay, a right to be present, a right not to be harassed and raped, a right to thrive rather than just survive, a right to have children or not have children, to have desire, to have a lot of sex or have a little sex, whatever their bodies want.
Now, equality by definition requires two comparable entities. Ensler doesn’t explicitly state it, but it is implied that the equality is with men. Right? You might think this is obvious, but look closer at the statements she makes.
The right to a voice is not a world-wide “right.” How many men have that in China, North Korea, or Syria? Who wants equal pay with any man from a third world country? Who is safe in Afghanistan or Iraq? Who is thriving instead of surviving in Somalia, or the Sudan?
And as for the sex! Is Ensler discussing masturbation or is someone else going to be involved? When the women decided how much sex their bodies want, are they just going to snap their fingers and get it?
No, Ensler does not want women to be equal with men. She wants them to be equal with some super-privileged group.
“Who are they?” you might ask. Well, typical feminist dogma would have it as the men who dominate patriarchy. This is alluded to by Ensler when she talks about impoverishment and colonializing. Most often this is reduced to “white men”, or “rich men” or sometimes, “rich white men”. It’s certainly not “men in dangerous jobs” or “men who die early.”
Given her attitude of sex on demand for women, she doesn’t want to be equal to the men who must understand that ‘no’ means ‘no’.
No, given her earlier statements about living in Utopia, Ensler wants to be equal to the one percent of rich that the Occupy movement complain about. That is, Ensler wants the 1% to become the 51%. Or would she be happy if the 1% became 2% with just Ensler and her friends cashing in because they understand “power that feeds”?
And the men? The men in China, North Korea, Sudan, etc? Are they nominated for equality? Even a little bit of equality? Well, we’ll never know because Alberici doesn’t ask.
The End of Violence
And so, dear reader, we now come to point of the interview where it all becomes clear. And this is where football comes into it. It all begins with another magnificent theory:
How is it capable [I think she meant ‘possible’] that we’re witnessing the amount of rapes and massacres and genocides and atrocities that we’re seeing in the world without people responding to that? Part of it I think is that we bring up boys to be bifurcated, to cut off their hearts and their heads, so that they’re capable once they come into power of doing very terrible things without feeling.
First of all, when she says “part of it”, she doesn’t explain what the other parts of it are. We can only assume that she means that the part she is talking about is the biggest part; that there is no other part of it that is in any way significant. In other words, this is the whole reason.
Secondly, I see governments and NGO’s asking for money or making announcements about going here and there to do this and that in response to wars and natural disasters every other day. Does Ensler mean that Oxfam, Medicins sans Frontiers, USAID, World Vision, etc., are not run by people?
Third, notice the gender difference between the first two sentences. In the first “people” are not responding. In the second, not only are the males not responding, they are the ones in power committing the atrocities.
The females, presumably, are still too consumed with trying to get their eyelashes both full and separated to either commit violence or respond to it.
Fourth, the males, she goes on to explain, can’t respond because they are bifurcated. In men, according to Ensler, the head is separate from the heart. If they were bifurcated, that would mean that one part of them could respond. She, however, is implying that their heart is not simply separate from the brain. It is, in fact, dead.
Given that they keep fucking things up, maybe their brains are dead, too!
Ensler then quotes another statistic. “One out of three women on the planet will experience rape or violence in her lifetime. That’s a billion women, a billion women.”
Now Ensler doesn’t say where she gets this fact from, and Alberici doesn’t question her on it either.
In general, this “one in three” figure gets attributed to the WHO Report of 2002 (World Health Organisation, 2002). This same report shows that when it comes to death by violence, in other words, the sharp end of the problem, men outnumber women as victims by more than two to one.
Ensler and Alberici also ignore the fact that the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Study of 2005 showed that men in Australia were twice as likely to experience violence of any kind (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005).
So, that’s two billion men who will experience violence in their lifetimes To take Ensler’s lead, let me say it again. That is two billion men. That’s double. Two.
Sorry. I can’t help myself. That’s twice as much. Two billion. Men.
They also both ignore the fact that, as Murray Strauss has pointed out, the feminists in academia have been cooking the books on domestic violence for years. (Murray Straus, 2012)
Last, but not least, Ensler brings up her solution to ending violence against women:
And I really just want to say to all the good men if they were busy standing up and speaking to the men who were committing the violence and asking them why and making violence against women their central issue, and as important, for example, as football is, I bet you violence against women would end very, very, very rapidly (laughs).
There you have it, Gentlemen. Get rid of your Tigers scarves, your Victory shirts and your Storm season memberships and get your white ribbon on. Don’t go to the game on Saturday. Instead, get yourself down to the nearest war zone. Find a bunch of drug fuelled, undisciplined youths armed to the teeth and ask them why.
Tell them that Ensler and Alberici would have come themselves to ask why, but some rotten male asked if that blouse was still in fashion.
Let me summarise Ensler’s logic:
There are three distinct types of human beings. They are Good Men, Men in Power, and Women.
The Men in Power are interested in “the power that controls,” but are just making a mess of things. It seems this is because they are stupid, heartless and bifurcated. But, whatever the reason, clearly they shouldn’t be in charge.
It would be much better if Women were in charge, because they want the “power that sees all at the table”. It is so obvious that this power is a better kind of power that Ensler doesn’t have to explain it. Unfortunately, Women are so easily distracted by criticisms about their appearance that they get lost in a confusion of neurosis and narcissism.
This just makes the world a bad place of rape, torture and violence. Oops! And, I almost forgot, derogatory comments.
And so we need the Good Men. These are the men who don’t want “the power that controls”, but instead see the wisdom of allowing “the power that feeds” to be administered by Women. This is presumably so they can go back to watching the game.
And so, if the Good Men make violence against women as important as football, then they’ll go and talk to the Men in Power. As we all know, what thwarts a man with “the power to control,” is being asked why by a Good Man standing up.
And no, Alberici doesn’t ask the question “Why don’t the women make politics as important as fashion? There’s no “But what if the man with “the power to control” just shoots the Good Man who asks why? Like Hitler, Stalin or Mao?”
Or maybe, just maybe, in a single master stroke, the men with “the power to control” will ask “Who should play alongside Rooney for Manchester United and what should his girlfriend wear to the after-game party?” Two birds. One stone. All done.
Final score: Patriarchy 2, The Rest of the World 0.
Distraction over. Back to the football, guys. Thanks for your time.
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