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Friday, February 09, 2007

This was originally posted at Daily Kos where it got almost 700 comments, some of them hilarious.

I almost couldn't believe my ears this morning as I got dressed for work. I go about my morning routine with CNN's American Morning on in the background. I don't usually focus too heavily on what they're talking about unless it's hard news, but a brief mention of a story this morning caught my attention and left me literally disgusted.

If you would be so kind as to follow me, you can bear witness to the Great Vagina Controversy of 2007.

Here's the blurb from CNN's American Morning. They were doing a teaser for the 9am show, CNN Newsroom, hosted by Heidi Collins (transcript):
S. O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" just a couple of minutes away. Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead this morning.

Good morning.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Soledad. And good morning to you, everybody.

That's right, we have these stories coming up in the "NEWSROOM" today. Good grief, first winter wouldn't start and now it won't stop. You've heard Chad talking about it, some spots in upstate New York buried under six feet of snow.

And the fight over Nigeria's oil riches. Our Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange face to face with masked rebels. A dangerous and amazing piece of reporting that you've got to see. We'll show you that.

And sign of the times -- a critically acclaimed play causing a little southern discomfort, so the producers have changed the name of "The Vagina Monologues."

Tony Harris is with me in the "NEWSROOM" of the hour right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Oh, my gosh.

M. O'BRIEN: "The Hoohaa Monologues?"

COLLINS: You got it. Some people were offended, you know.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness. I can see why. That's very interesting.

M. O'BRIEN: "Hoohaa" kind of bothers me.

COLLINS: No, I mean, they were offended by the original name.

S. O'BRIEN: No, no I get you on all fronts.

M. O'BRIEN: But you know, some people might have a "Hoohaa" problem. Who knows.

COLLINS: I'm done.

S. O'BRIEN: As am I. We're done.
Ok. So what we get from the teaser is that the critically acclaimed Vagina Monologues is sparking controversy somewhere in the South. So much so that a person was utterly offended by the title on a marquis in front of the theater and called the theater to complain. And with that, the title Vagina Monologues was changed to HOOHAA Monologues. I'm not making this up.

I googled and found that the southern state in question is Florida. From a short article covering the story:
Atlantic Theatres in Atlantic Beach, Florida, received a complaint from a woman who'd seen the advertised title as she drove past with her niece. She said that it had made her niece ask her what a vagina was.

The theatre's Bryce Pfanenstiel commented: 'I'm on the phone and asked “What did you tell her?” She's like, “I'm offended I had to answer the question.”
FYI, the link above will take you to a picture of the "new" marquis on the theater, post-rabid psycho complaint. I wasn't too far off in my memory-based transcription. Now, a few things leap to mind. First, the Vagina Monologues is a critically acclaimed play. I found a great little write-up in the BG News Online (Bowling Green State University) which had this to say:

The author, Eve Ensler, designed the play to be a rather creative way to express women's issues to the rest of the world. The results of the play have been tremendous on all women. Participants and viewers everywhere describe the Monologues as empowering and a step forward for women.


One reason [that the play is so powerful] is that the Monologues are specifically an all-women production. This particular facet of the play ensures that there is no influence from a cultural patriarchy, as well as demonstrates women's more-than-capable ability to produce theatre.

In a culture where sexuality is shunned, it is often difficult, sometimes impossible to find information about your own body.


Despite the Western view of human beings, we are not clouds of consciousness simply floating about. We are human beings with bodies. And if it is taboo to talk about vaginas, then how exactly are women supposed to learn about themselves? How are they to relate to one another as women with bodies?


The amount of money donated to charity as a direct result of "The Vagina Monologues" is hard to argue against. With every dollar earned a step is made to help women in the most dire of circumstances.
But clearly, in Atlantic Beach Florida, Vaginas are the embodiment (hah) of evil.

Another thing that struck me specifically was the fact that the niece in question (from the complaint the theater received) can obviously read. If she can read, why the FUCK doesn't she know what a vagina is and that she has one??!! There is something fundamentally wrong with keeping a young woman who is obviously mature enough from know the appropriate anatomical name for the parts of her body. Does her family have euphamisms for ears? How about for eyes? Is not "vagina" the most approrpriate term for, well, a VAGINA??? Why is it that this girl should walk around thinking that it's called a "HOOHAA"?? I'm sure it has something to do with the fabulous "PEEPEE" to represent a penis, but the logic is escaping me at the moment.

So here you go, folks. Forward what follows to everyone you know who has a girl in their lives, from The Free Dictionary:
va·gi·na (v-jn)
n. pl. va·gi·nas or va·gi·nae (-n)
1. Anatomy
a. The passage leading from the opening of the vulva to the cervix of the uterus in female mammals.
b. A similar part in some invertebrates.
2. Botany A sheathlike structure, such as the leaf of a grass that surrounds a stem.
Ooooh... dirty, dirty BAD vaginas!! Of this we must not speak, especially to girls who actually have them!! And with that, I give you the HOOHAA MONOLOGUES, coming soon to a draconian theater near you in a neighborhood that wants you to grow up repressed, confused, and subliminally convinced that you are, in fact, dirty and disgusting.

Update [2007-2-8 11:55:6 by RenaRF]: First, I removed my memory-based transcription of the piece on CNN Newsroom because the article and link I found references the specific language. No need to confuse everyone.

Second, I strong encourage everyone to write a polite note to the Atlantic Theater. You can access their email by clicking this link. I would suggest a note encouraging the theater not to play into a destructive trend towards keeping girls and women ignorant about their bodies. I would reinforce that "vagina" is absolutely the most apporpriate anatomical term, and question why it needed to be removed.

Update [2007-2-8 15:16:58 by RenaRF]: Ok. Brusek posted this email reply from the theater in the comments:

I think we are being misunderstood. "Hoohaa" was meant to be tongue in cheek. Having a 9 year old daughter and coming from a medical background I was furious that a woman would actually complain about having to explain to her niece what a vagina was after the child read it herself. My daughter knows the anatomically correct term but calls uses hoohaa. Yes, we know what free speech is and we are glad to be putting Vagina back up today. I am female and I support VAGINA!!!

Kim (assistant manager)
-------------- Original message --------------
From: info@atlantictheatres.com

Tom Fallon

Managing Director
I believe them, and BRAVO. I will say, though, that the woman who called initially was NOT made-up. I have also seen in the comments that many of the V-Day showings of Vagina Monologues are being protested. Yes, protested - across the country. Peruse the comments a bit. So, I'm glad that CNN aired the story and I'm glad that the theater, along with virtually everyone here, sees how ridiculous it is to object to the word "vagina".

Labels: ,

posted by RenaRF at 7:54 AM 10 comments


Blogger Scott Nolan said...

Clearly I think that everyone with a vagina should boycott Atlantic Beach Florida.

If vaginas are so offensive, let's see how the town survives with no vaginas at all for a while.

And my boycott, I mean leave - every single one, right out of that stupid repressed idiot town. Bet that'd make the news.

Scientific anatomy terms are meant to be scientific anatomy terms. They are not offensive. Anyone finding them so is finding our language offensive, perhaps they should leave.

I share your anger... this is silly in the extreme.

9:14 AM  
Blogger RenaRF said...

My simple question was would the aunt feel uncomfortable if the niece had asked what a kidney was? How about a pancreas? Ridiculous.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Fisch said...

I missed this on the DKos. Funny stuff. I don't imagine that the "Puppetry of the Penis" is going to be all that welcome there, either.

4:05 PM  
Blogger faboo said...

I think it's official: People have lost their damn minds and need to stop thinking that everything revolves around s-e-x.

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