Thursday, March 08, 2007

Is vagina a dirty word?

John Jay High School seems to think so .


Christine said...

While I'm glad to see that there's a full-throated defense of being able to say the word "vagina" in public, this passage gave me pause:

"Ms. Ensler describes the passage as an anthem to girls about female empowerment that goes: “My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women’s army. I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina’s country.”

Ms. Stahl said that she and the other two girls, all honor students, wanted to read the passage because it had inspired them to “embrace our bodies, our femininity and our womanhood,” and that they had gone out of their way to choose one of the least graphic sections.

“We wanted one that we felt was more appropriate for the setting,” she said. “The use of the word vagina in this piece wasn’t sexual, and the piece and the context of the word is empowering.”"

...not to beat a dead horse, but the assumption that embracing your femininity is done primarily through putting your body on display remains stubborn and problematic. And though short skirts don't necessarily need to have sexualized connotations in the mind of the wearer, it's a little troubling that this piece was chosen by these girls specifically for its supposed asexuality.

Adda said...

I totally agree. I think the argument that the word isn't sexual or that in this context it isn't sexual, is kind of absurd. I also have to admit that there is something about this that seems a little difficult to swallow in that I can't imagine a corollary for guys that would be deemed appropriate, which I think speaks to a greater problem about sexuality and adolescents where I think its something we are all really uncomfortable with. But at the same time its hard to figure out what expression of it to embrace. I also realize that my thinking about this is really clouded by my own sexual experience and my age, whereas if I think back to my high school days this is something I would have done, been proud of, and felt really empowered by. So, I think it is problematic, but we have to recognize what an important moment this was for these three girls in terms of standing up the whole school board and community and asserting their (sexual) autonomy, even if it wasn't a perfectly sinewy feminist version of it.