“The Vagina Monologues” was written by Eve Ensler in 1996 after interviewing about 200 women about their views on sex, relationships and violence against women.Starting out at the now defunct HERE Arts Center in New York, the play enjoyed a longer tenure at the Off Broadway Westside Theatre, also in New York. Ensler originally performed all the monologues before expanding the production, and a 2001 rendition included performances by Melissa Etheridge and Whoopi Goldberg.
By 1998, HBO produced a television version of the play. Later that year, Ensler, along with others, launched the V-Day campaign, a global non-profit movement to help raise aid and awareness to combat violence against women. In 2004, creators expanded the V-Day message to include transgender individuals.
Many conservative and feminist groups have, since the production began, criticized “The Vagina Monologues” on issues ranging from gender questions to vulgarity. Seeing the play as promoting lesbian behavior and masturbation, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property has denounced the play several times.
Betty Dodson, a pro-sex feminist, considered the play to have bias against heterosexual relationships and men in general. In 2002, Wendy McElroy echoed those sentiments about the play and the V-Day movement at-large.
“The stated purpose is to raise awareness,” McElroy wrote for The Liberator website. “In reality, V-Day embodies the same double standard and dishonesty that has characterized most feminist pronouncements for decades.”
Despite criticism of “The Vagina Monologues” and the V-Day movement, the campaign has been very successful in the United States and internationally. Many colleges across the United States present the show either annually or biannually.
Since the creation of V-Day, more than $75 million has been raised for women’s anti-violence groups. This money has gone to help victims of rape, sexual harassment, genital mutilation, forced abortion, and forced prostitution.
All proceeds of the “The Vagina Monologues” presented at Tech benefit the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.