In touch with women

Asia One

Saturday January 1, 2011
China Daily/Asia News Network

The Vagina Monologues is an ongoing feminist work and a life-changing experience for audiences. Xu Lin reports.

The Vagina Monologues is controversial due to its no-holds-barred discussion of a woman’s body and female identity. The feminist work, which has been performed in more than 130 countries and in at least 45 languages, consists of monologues related to the vagina, referring to love, sex, rape, menstruation, orgasm and birth.

The American playwright and performer Eve Ensler wrote the play in 1996 and adds new monologues to the work every year.

The play was based on her interviews with more than 200 women of different ages, races, occupations and educational backgrounds, about their views on sex, relationships and violence against women.

Director Wang Chong produced the first commercial and only authorized version in the Chinese mainland in 2009, and it will return to Beijing in January.

The original 20 performances were sold out, in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

Wang bought the copyright of the play for staging on the Chinese mainland and also took part in the V-Day campaign, which Ensler started to prevent violence against women. The “V” stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.

“In this male-dominated society, females are a vulnerable group. Women are often supporting roles on stage, but this play is an exception,” Wang says.

“Women’s images are defined by men via the mass media. Those who do not match the standard can only turn to cosmetic surgery, weight-losing methods or abase themselves,” Wang says.

Wang says it is time for women to redefine their bodies and identities.

“The Chinese are ashamed to talk about sex, which is an important part of being human. The play is like an artistic sex education,” Wang says.

One of the leading actresses, Tong Meng, couldn’t agree more.

“My acting in the play is like a textbook. And I believe middle-aged audiences have a much deeper understanding of life,” she says.

The 22-year-old struggled for about two weeks before accepting the role, as she knew her parents and childhood friends in Shenzhen would see the play, in November.

One of her roles is that of a prostitute who only services females. Tong was reluctant to rehearse a five-minute scene that features her moaning and groaning as if she is having sex.

“It was so challenging and embarrassing. But I was not afraid the moment I saw the audience applauding. It’s actually a comedy scene,” she says.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.