Politically correct feminists want Valentine's Day to become V-Day, standing for Vagina, Violence (committed by men against women) and Victory.
Rather than taking 24 hours to celebrate romantic love, women are admonished to ponder rape and domestic violence.
Since 1998, V-Day events have been sponsored on university campuses across America. The stated purpose is to raise awareness. In reality, V-Day embodies the same double standard and dishonesty that has characterized most feminist pronouncements for decades.
Consider the politically correct centerpiece of the V-Day events: The Vagina Monologues, the award-winning play by radical feminist Eve Ensler that features women who literally represent vaginas that speak out in a series of monologues.
The play is meant to decry rape and other violence against women. Yet, the original performances of the play and the published book eulogize the lesbian "rape" of a 13-year-old girl by a 24-year-old woman who plies her with alcohol. The pedophile section is entitled "The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could" — Coochi Snorcher being the nickname of the little girl's genitalia. Her vagina's tale of seduction begins, "She gently and slowly lays me out on the bed ..."
After becoming more graphic, the little girl gratefully concludes, "I'll never need to rely on a man."
Both by statute and by feminist definition, the "seduction" scene is rape. Nevertheless, the Coochi Snorcher declares, "... if it was rape, it was a good rape."
Such idealization of child molestation would have created a firestorm of outrage if the offending character had been male. But the molester was female, so The Vagina Monologues won an OBIE Award on Broadway and noted actresses clamored to be included in the cast. When The New York Times reported the buzz about Ensler, it called her "the Messiah heralding the second wave of feminism."
However, audiences probably won't hear the Coochi Snorcher speaking of "good rape" in the 2002 performances. In past years, some sections of The Vagina Monologues have caused embarrassment to the organizers and university officials who have backed V-Day performances. The script has been changed.
One of the alterations: The 13-year-old vagina omits the more inflammatory passages.
The 2001 feminist.com site, which coordinated performances, was emphatic that performances for anti-violence/campus events adhere to the new script. It stated: "You must use the version ... that is included in the Performance Kit that you will receive. No other version of the play is acceptable for your production. Do not use the book of the play or versions of the script from previous College Initiatives."
The site warned, "If you go forward with a production WITHOUT permission, you could be subject to legal proceedings." Thus, the original words of the play were suppressed.
Ensler explained the differences in the play between one year to the next by calling The Vagina Monologues an "ever-evolving work." But the sections dropped were ones that had drawn protest. And the imposition of rigid control does not suggest a fluid, evolving process. Ensler will neither stand by her original words nor admit to having made a political error in her ever so politically correct play.
In 2000, when Georgetown University's Women's Center sponsored a performance of The Vagina Monologues, the conservative Robert Swope — a regular contributor to Georgetown University's student paper, The Hoya — brought the Coochi Snorcher to national attention.
In the paper, Swope wrote, "why is rape only wrong when a man commits it, but when it's by a woman committed against another woman, who just happens to be 13-years-old, it is celebrated and a university club sponsors it?"
Swope was abruptly fired from The Hoya. Accounts of his dismissal appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Salon, National Review, The Washington Times, and The Weekly Standard, among others.
There is nothing wrong with literature that honestly explores every aspect of the human body or sexuality. In 1970, the anthology Our Bodies, Ourselves became a well-deserved blockbuster precisely because it candidly addressed women's health concerns and sexuality. But no honesty is expressed by feminists who demand the "right" to speak on sensitive matters while fighting like mad dogs to shut down speech they find offensive on the same subjects.
A play that claims to unveil the truth about vaginas but, somehow, overlooks the salutary role men play in most women's sexuality has no credibility. Worse than this, The Vagina Monologues equates men with "the enemy" and heterosexual love with violence.
Betty Dodson — a leader of '60s liberal feminism whose life's work has aimed at demystifying women's sexuality — expressed well-deserved horror at the play.
Describing Ensler as "an evangelical minister," Dodson believes that the play is a blast of hatred at men and heterosexuality. After all, the 24-year-old woman who seduces the drunken 13-year-old is portrayed as "rescuing" her from male violence.
"Take Back the Night" is a rallying cry that PC feminism raises against male violence. Perhaps the rallying call for Feb. 14 should be "Take Back the Day" — Valentine's Day — a cry that women who love the men in their lives should take up.
If the personal is to be political, then let's get political by celebrating a day of romance and of heterosexuality as a source of joy — as the source of life itself. On Feb. 14, I am giving my husband an autographed copy of the latest book from one of his favorite authors: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say by Warren Farrell.
Past that point, the personal becomes personal once more.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the forthcoming anthology Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.