Betty Dodson Rips “The Vagina Monologues”

Eve Ensler’s controversial play, “The Vagina Monologues,” includes a scene in which a woman attends a Betty Dodson-like seminar (if you don’t know what I mean, visit Betty Dodson’s web site — warning, though, parts of the site are sexually explicit). Based on that I had assumed that Dodson would like the play. Wrong. She hates it for much the same reason that a lot of critiques of radical feminism dislike it.

Dodson posted an article about the play, “V-Day, Inc.,” on her web site. According to Dodson, when she originally saw the play in 1996 she disliked elements of it and made some suggestions to Ensler. By the time she saw it again in 1998, however, the play had changed dramatically for the worse. As Dodson aptly describes it, the play represents the worst form of anti-male, anti-sex feminism:

Now in the nineties they had done it again. V no longer stood for vagina. It stood for violence. Sex and violence, never sex and pleasure. Talking about sexual pleasure when there is so much sexual violence against women would be inappropriate, insensitive and politically incorrect. And who is to blame for all the sexual violence against women? According to Ms. and other fundamentalist feminists it’s still the patriarchy. Does that mean daddy or our brothers? Is it the stranger who raped us? Or is it the first man who broke our heart or the first one we married who cheated on us? Maybe it’s the pope or God himself, but it’s definitely mankind.

That night I wondered how men in the audience felt after being nailed as “the enemy.” It’s my bet that the men attending V-Day were all staunch supporters of equal rights for women. But here they were, faced with the same old male bashing of the sixties and seventies.

As far as I’m concerned, Dodson is right on the money about Ensler,

Eve is no longer the disarming young woman delivering her monologues. She has become an evangelical minister shouting and gesturing and admonishing us to demand an end to violence against women as the crowd roars in agreement. Toward the end of the evening Eve asked everyone who’d ever been raped to stand up. There was a smattering of women standing where I was sitting. Then she asked for those women who had been beaten to stand. Many more stood up. Finally she asked all those to stand who knew any woman who’d been raped or beaten which included most of the audience. I refused to stand as an insignificant protest knowing she would never ask those of us who had never been raped or beaten and who loved having orgasms to stand.

That’s the main problem with V-day. Women end up celebrating sexual violence and not the creative or regenerative pleasures of erotic love. Ending violence is a worthy cause and I’m all for it. But consistently equating sex with violence offers no solution. V-day promises us that awareness plus education equals prevention.

In an article last month for The Nation, Katha Pollitt couldn’t understand “how anyone could find The Vagina Monologues antimale…” At least Dodson gets it, even if the usual suspects don’t.


V-Day, Inc.. Betty Dodson, BettyDodson.Com, 2001.

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