By DANIEL BROWNE
I told a few of my guy friends that I went to see the “Vagina Monologues” this weekend. Their reactions ranged from curiosity to outright mocking. Interest waned when I explained that the monologues did, in fact, consist of women talking for about an hour and a half. Perhaps it’s not surprising—at Friday night’s sold out performance—the audience was mostly either female or PRISM affiliated, or boyfriends attending to support their special someone.
Why the lack of interest? Why the avoidance? Nowadays, the onus seems to be on the straight man to be conscientious. Especially on a campus as progressive as ours, the privileged class guilt trip is a curse, and all it takes is one slip of the tongue to offend. Better to just avoid the sensitive topics—equality, sexism, abuse, gender roles and vaginas—altogether and keep quiet.
The gulf between one sex’s perceptions of the other will probably never be bridged. The common cries of “I will never understand women,” or “Men are just so confusing,” are valid complaints when there are central differences in anatomy and psychology that separate women from men. What makes the “Vagina Monologues” so remarkable and worth seeing is that they take something so essentially female and translate it into something that any empathetic being can understand, even a male.
It makes sense, though, that men aren’t keen on showing these feelings. Mutual understanding isn’t culturally “macho.” Many guys probably don’t even think a greater understanding is necessary—that they treat women respectfully enough, that sexual abuse isn’t an issue that will ever affect them, that these monologues are just an excuse for a pity party and to hate on men. A viewing of the “Vagina Monologues,” however, would show them: The “Vagina Monologues” are not misandry, they are not “heterophobic” nor are they a cloying exaggeration of trivial experiences. They are accounts of experiences that are real, literal life for the women involved.
So, if you are a nice dude who has had the luxury of saying that sexual abuse isn’t a relevant issue in your life, or if you know categorically that rape jokes aren’t funny but never really understood why, or think that feminism is a nice idea but wish that people would just stop being so annoying about it already, then perhaps a guys night out to see the “Vagina Monologues” is in order. Understanding can never hurt and effort from all sexualities helps bring equality like nothing else.