Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Language of the Body


There are plenty things that I have found wrong with the “Vagina Monologues” script. One is the example of the celebration of seducing a minor with alcohol and then sexually abusing her. Another is the rather horrible picture of men in general. But I will speak to these perhaps on another occasion. My main critique here will be the fact that the play doesn’t show enough of woman.

Although the play is centered on the most intimate, it is base. The script does not show too much, it tells too little. It takes a piece of the human person and neglects the totality. It makes it sound like the vagina is the only part of womanhood. It is as if a woman is only one thing, which is why many feminists are very much against such a representation. Woman is much more than base. Just on the science of the human species, she is most complex. The play misses the intrinsic value of the human person in general and womanhood or femininity in particular.

One thing I can agree with more than anything is the title of the play. Although I doubt I would ever make a play on such, there has been much written on a slightly different subject I could call “Intimacy Dialogues.”

But why would I say I think the title speaks more truth than the rest of the play? Because speaking is in the title. It says something very true. Human actions speak. We learned this way back when we were young, when our parents told us that “Actions speak louder than words.” A phrase, typically attributed to a friend of mine, reads “Preach the gospel always, when necessary, use words.” This dogma of life is rather obvious. It is also a theme found in John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” This was a series of weekly discussions from his early pontificate. They are thoughts that were considered from his earlier days as a cardinal. The body speaks. Something so simple and yet profound; something so ancient, yet something forgotten. We use symbols with our body. A simple wave of the hand or a handshake speaks something. A loving kiss from a spouse is more than just the physical connection of lips, this action says something. What has our culture forgotten? It has forgotten the meaning of sex and its language. It has forgotten something even the ancient Egyptians knew and many cultures as well, that sex is special. Not bad, not gross, not nasty, not prudish, but rather incredible, extraordinary, and even sacred. Our culture forgets the enormous damage that is done when people misuse or abuse such a wonderful gift. It is not rocket science to know the effects of sexual abuse on victims from lifelong struggles of trust in general and intimate relationships and from self-inflicted harm like cutting to even suicide.

It has forgotten that sex is about union and procreation. It is easy to see how we partly understand the meaning of sex. We blush when we speak of it, just as the person in the Advocate article spoke about her parents. But to blush is not to say we are prudish, but rather to say it is intimate. We are speaking of a very close and personal action. We cover parts of our bodies. Not because these parts are gross, but rather because we cover those things that we hold dear. We place our valuables in deposit boxes, not because we think they are bad, but because we think they are important. We wear a coat in the winter, not because we hate our arms, but because we love them. As another friend of mine has written, we don’t give a woman a necklace because we think her neck ugly, rather we decorate something already beautiful.

There is no caring person, male or female, that thinks abusing women is good or neutral. Supporting those organizations that help battered women are truly good and honorable. So it is not the ends that are questionable, the fact that V-Day is about rescuing women from these relationships or pains, but rather the means that is used to accomplish it.

What does the script of the “Vagina Monologues” say beyond just the words? Does it take the human person and sexuality and lift it up or decrease it?