Girls Who Said 'Vagina' During Monologues Suspended


sanctus
#1
CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- A public high school has suspended three 16-year-old girls who disobeyed officials by saying the word "vagina" during a reading from "The Vagina Monologues."

Their defiant stand is being applauded by the author of the well-known feminist play, who said Tuesday that the school should be celebrating, rather than punishing, the three juniors.

"Don't we want our children to resist authority when it's not appropriate and wise?" said author Eve Ensler.

The three honor students, Megan Reback, Elan Stahl and Hannah Levinson, included the word because "we knew it was the right thing to do. Since we're comfortable saying it, we should make other people comfortable saying it," Levinson said.

The excerpt from "Monologues" was read Friday night, among various readings at an event sponsored by the literary magazine at John Jay High School in Cross River, a New York City suburb. Among the other readings was a student's original work and the football coach quoting Shakespeare.

The girls took turns reading the excerpt until they came to the word, then said it together.

"My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women's army," they read. "I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina's country."

The suspension has prompted allegations of censorship. But Principal Richard Leprine said Tuesday that the girls were punished not because of what they said but because they disobeyed orders not to say it.

In a statement, Leprine said that because the event was open to the community, including children, the word "vagina" was not appropriate. He said the girls had been told when they auditioned that they could not use the word.

Reback said Tuesday that no one in the audience was younger than high school age. "What did we do that was so wrong?" she asked. "We were insubordinate, but the reason we were insubordinate was that we talked about our body."

The principal said that the school respects students' right to freedom of expression. "That right, however, is not unfettered.

"When a student is told by faculty members not to present specified material because of the composition of the audience and they agree to do so, it is expected that the commitment will be honored and the directive will be followed," Leprine said. "When a student chooses not to follow the directive, consequences follow."

Bob Lichtenfeld, superintendent of the Katonah-Lewisboro school district, which includes John Jay, said, "If the high school students wanted to put on a production of 'The Vagina Monologues,' they probably wouldn't have had any opposition. As long as the intended audience knows what to expect, we don't have a problem with it."

Ensler said the girls were right for "standing up for art and against censorship."
Eve Ensler, author of 'The Vagina Monologues'
AP Image
Eve Ensler, author of 'The Vagina Monologues'

"The school's position is absurd, a throwback to the Dark Ages," she said. "So what, if children were to hear the word? Would that be terrible? We're not talking about plutonium here, or acid rain, a word that destroys lives. It's a body part!"

She said she called the girls to support them because "the school put them in an impossible position."

The girls said they had the support of their parents. "To me, they were reciting literature in an educational forum and they did it with grace and dignity," said Dana Stahl, Elan Stahl's mother.

The girls will all serve one-day, in-school suspensions, beginning Wednesday.

"The Vagina Monologues," presented as various women's thoughts about sexual subjects, has become a phenomenon since its Off-Broadway opening in 1996. All-star readings are common and on "V-Day" each year, usually Feb. 14, local volunteers, college students and a few high schools produce benefit performances of the play to raise funds to battle violence against women. The "V-Day" Internet site says there were more than 2,700 such events last year.

Performances occasionally provoke controversy.

Conservative Catholics criticized the University of Notre Dame's decision to allow a performance on campus last April. This year, student planners couldn't get an academic sponsor.

Last month, a board member of a central Kentucky historic theater quit after objecting to the theater's marquee advertising "The Vagina Monologues."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.
 
tracy
#2
Why on earth should that word be banned? It's the correct term for a body part. Would a student be banned from saying "elbow"?
 
snfu73
#3
Can one really perform the Vagina Monologues without using the word Vagina???

Ya, agree with the above poster...it's the correct term for a body part that all females have...I don't see anything wrong with the word...I think it's more unhealthy to make it seem so offensive and dirty....this is the kind of stuff that leads to kids not talking about sex openly with their parents and stuff...which can lead to....well....whatever. It's a vagina....women have them!
 
El Barto
#4
It sounds like Jim Morrison at Ed Sulivan Show all over again. Sometimes authority should be defied. It keeps authority in check.
 
sanctus
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by tracy View Post

Why on earth should that word be banned? It's the correct term for a body part. Would a student be banned from saying "elbow"?


My thoughts exactly, and espeically so here when the girl was using the word at a function whose title used the word. Sometimes authority in schools is well overboard. I am not a big fan of high school authority mentality at the best of times.They seem, often, more concerned with behaviour and appearance than education of their students.
 
tamarin
#6
The play's popularity and the rousing success of Puppetry of the Penis are milestones of our decadent times. The girls here I think were less concerned with free speech than having one over on their principal. It's all about taste. You either have it or you don't.
 
tamarin
#7
And if we don't have taste we might as well polish the stones we walk on. A common expression given to boys by both their buddies and girls is "How's it hanging?" The intent and reference are clear. It's now time to democratize public greetings: "How's your vagina?" obviously is a mite forward. But I'm sure we can put something together.
 
eh1eh
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by tamarin View Post

And if we don't have taste we might as well polish the stones we walk on. A common expression given to boys by both their buddies and girls is "How's it hanging?" The intent and reference are clear. It's now time to democratize public greetings: "How's your vagina?" obviously is a mite forward. But I'm sure we can put something together.

Something like 'How's it baking?'
 
tamarin
#9
Hey, that's pretty good! But it's not anatomically as sharp as "How's it hanging?" Keep working on it. You have an A for effort!
 
eh1eh
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by tamarin View Post

Hey, that's pretty good! But it's not anatomically as sharp as "How's it hanging?" Keep working on it. You have an A for effort!

I was trying not to be rude, but I'm sure I'll come up with a better one. LOL
 
El Barto
#11
Hows it curlin girl?
 
Virgina
#12
Ce site, est-il pour les Canadiens francais aussi?

Merci.

Virgina
 
TenPenny
#13
When one of my daughters was 3 years old, at playschool, she announced:

"Girls have vaginas; boys have penises"

The teacher had to leave the room to stifle her laughter.

What kind of idiotic people are running the schools? If the prinicpal had a problem with the vagina monologues, then perhaps that part of the event should have been scrapped. There's far worse things in Shakespeare, for god's sake.
 
tamarin
#14
Principals have a tough job. I know many. As far as I'm concerned the girls at issue were looking for mischief. Testing the waters. A few tactical moves. Schools in many areas have lost the dress battle. Many, many girls daily dress inappropriately and prinicipals and boards are tiring of battling aggressive parents who seem to think: you're here to teach my child not act as a fashion consultant.
So the dress battle has been lost. It's been lost because early on not enough resistance was applied. So I look at this little snafu with the girls and their speech differently. There's more there than meets the eye. Once the door's open be prepared to make decisions on a daily basis because kids love to see how much stretch is in the already broken lining.
 
Niflmir
#15
I think the thing that I find most offensive about this article is the school's quotation:

"We are not suppressing their freedom of speech, we are punishing them for not voluntarily suppressing their own freedom of speech."

Their parents should get a lawyer and the principal should run for the hills.
 
tamarin
#16
Yup, you're the type of parent who'd send their daughter in low riders to school and demand of the priincipal: what are you looking at!!!
 
TenPenny
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by tamarin View Post

Principals have a tough job. I know many. As far as I'm concerned the girls at issue were looking for mischief. Testing the waters. A few tactical moves. Schools in many areas have lost the dress battle. Many, many girls daily dress inappropriately and prinicipals and boards are tiring of battling aggressive parents who seem to think: you're here to teach my child not act as a fashion consultant.
So the dress battle has been lost. It's been lost because early on not enough resistance was applied. So I look at this little snafu with the girls and their speech differently. There's more there than meets the eye. Once the door's open be prepared to make decisions on a daily basis because kids love to see how much stretch is in the already broken lining.

That being the case, the principal should NOT have allowed any quotations from "the vagina monologues" whatsoever. The principal's inability to predict this outcome is stupendously idiotic. How could you allow someone to read from "the vagina monologues", and ask them not to say the word "vagina"??? Did he want them to use, say, "pussy" instead?

The principal / school allowed, actually ENCOURAGED them to push the limits, then suspended them for doing exactly what anyone with a brain would have predicted they do.
 
Niflmir
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by tamarin View Post

Yup, you're the type of parent who'd send their daughter in low riders to school and demand of the priincipal: what are you looking at!!!

Or defend her for taking her shirt off when the boys did, certainly.

Quote: Originally Posted by TenPenny View Post

That being the case, the principal should NOT have allowed any quotations from "the vagina monologues" whatsoever. The principal's inability to predict this outcome is stupendously idiotic. How could you allow someone to read from "the vagina monologues", and ask them not to say the word "vagina"??? Did he want them to use, say, "pussy" instead?

The principal / school allowed, actually ENCOURAGED them to push the limits, then suspended them for doing exactly what anyone with a brain would have predicted they do.

Yeah, I don't know how they could be introduced without using the word vagina while simultaneously avoiding copyright laws. It seems quite bizarre.
 
MikeyDB
#19
Just wondering....


VAGINA

DICK

PENIS

****

HOLE

PECKER

Which words will the censor parser intercept and decide for everyone that these words are BAD????
 
eh1eh
#20
Obviousy it would be ****, what about cock?
 
MikeyDB
#21
Well it seems that the word that rimes with hunt but the first letter of which is a "c" is not acceptable...

Seems whomever writes the parsing software has particular biases.... that doesn't include vagina...

Just wondering...

This has been a test...

If this had been an actual outburst of NON-PC language your monitor and computer would have melted down into rubble....

****!

Well now is it a word that is offensive or is it the "meaning" that's offensive???

DEMOCRACY

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION


Hard to say....
 
MikeyDB
#22
It seems sensive to the "F" word that rimes with Truck....

It sure is fortunate that the same standards aren't applied to Canadian politicians and the comedy channel entertainers.... No Canadian politician (Brian Mulroney as example) would ever be allowed to speak publicly...but the "finger" (Pierre Trudeau...of fuddle-duddle fame) is acceptable while we punish Canadian politicians for calling George Bush a moron....
 
DurkaDurka
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by MikeyDB View Post

Just wondering....


VAGINA

DICK

PENIS

****

HOLE

PECKER

Which words will the censor parser intercept and decide for everyone that these words are BAD????

Mikey, Where did you learn such awful words?
 
MikeyDB
#24
In church.
 
DurkaDurka
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by MikeyDB View Post

In church.

haha, at least you walked away from there with something.
 
eh1eh
#26
Starts with F ends in uck. Lets see if it passes.

Firetruck.

 
El Barto
#27
Just to bring it back to the thread that would be apropriate 1 out of 28 days
 
snfu73
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by MikeyDB View Post

Just wondering....


VAGINA

DICK

PENIS

****

HOLE

PECKER

Which words will the censor parser intercept and decide for everyone that these words are BAD????

If they banned those works, it would really suck if your name was Dick.
 
MikeyDB
#29
Like Dick Cheney....

It must suck just being a Cheney although I'd have to ask Dick's daughter for confirmation on that..
 
Tonington
#30
It's very curious. Is sex education still a touchy subject in schools? What words do they use to familiarize students with human anatomy?

Remember that kid from Kindergarten Cop? Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina. That's what I thought of immediately when I read the thread title.

What a ridiculous situation.
 

Similar Threads

0
Detainee transfers suspended
by CBC News | Jan 27th, 2008
15
4-Year Old Suspended from School ??
by Curiosity | Dec 10th, 2006