Mount Holyoke College Cancels Annual ‘Vagina Monologues’ Performance To Include Trans Students

Mount Holyoke College, one of the most highly regarded women’s colleges, has canceled the yearly performance of “The Vagina Monologues” as a result of a decision made by the student body because they felt that the play was not inclusive enough and excludes the transgender students attending the college.

Erin Murphy broke down the student’s decision in an email that was sent out to students. It read,“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 have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”

The administration of Mount Holyoke College made it very clear in their press release that the 2014 policy change allowing transgender women to attend the college had nothing to do with the cancellation of the annual Valentine’s Day performance.

A press release on the college’s website said, “The Mount Holyoke College student organization Project: Theatre notified the students body on Jan. 14 of its decision to cancel the play ‘Vagina Monologues’ after evaluating input from peers about the productions. The students’ decision to cancel the play was made independently of the College’s transgender admission policy…”

A statement from the college was sent to HuffPost and further drove this point home. The statement said, “The student-group decision to cancel the play was made independently of the College’s transgender admission policy. As a women’s college with a long tradition of education women leaders, Mount Holyoke College supports and encourages students to take the lead in establishing and governing their organizations. The College encourages students to seek peer input through open discussion and to consider and respect all viewpoints in their decision-making process.”

Eve Ensler, author of the “Vagina Monologues” wrote a post on Time Magazine’s blog to address Mount Holyoke College’s decision to cancel the annual performance. In her post she wrote, “The Vagina Monologues never intended to be a play about what it means to be a woman. It is and always has been a play about what it means to have a vagina. In the play, I never defined a woman as a person with a vagina.”

Ensler doesn’t believe canceling the play is the best way to include transgender students as she writes about in her blog post. “Inclusion comes from listening to our differences, and honoring the right of everyone to talk about their reality, free from oppression and bigotry and silencing. That’s real inclusion – to listen to different stories, with curiosity, and love, and respect, in all their particular and distinctive human individuality.”

She ends her column by saying, “We need to create a loving space for people with vaginas, and women without them, to address our oppressions, desires and secrets and to simultaneously honor the fact that gender is not based on anatomy or genitalia.”

The performance of the play is part of the VDAY campaign, a yearly pledge to stop violence against women and girls. The VDAY campaign will go on as usual with some modifcations to represent all students of Mount Holyoke equally. Students will perform their own monologues and educational health workshops will be held as well.

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