V For Ladybusiness
Welcome back to Bound and Gagged’s continuing observance of Women’s History Month and all things related to women and censorship. Today’s topic: Vaginas. Pardon my Latin.
Vaginas made big waves in the USA last year when Michigan Rep. Lisa Brown was banned from speaking by Michigan Republicans for saying the word ‘vagina’ while discussing anti-abortion legislation. This prompted a backlash and an onslaught of vagina-related content being posted on the Michigan Republican Party’s Facebook page. It always amazes me that, despite being surrounded by sexual content, many modern-day Americans are not comfortable using correct, medical terminology (although vagina actually comes from the Latin word for ‘sheath’ so it is a euphemism in and of itself).
The Vagina Monologues are one way of addressing this, along with female sexuality and sexual experiences, relationship violence, and rape. The performance uses shock value and uncensored language to get these issues (and the word vagina itself) out into the open in order to force a conversation about taboo and sensitive subjects.
Given this, it came as no surprise that adapting the performances for an Indian audience proved somewhat of a challenge. For the most part, India is a very sexually conservative country where women’s sexuality and sex in general are not discussed. Bollywood movies do not feature much of any PDA (nor does real life for that matter) and media, be it movies or books, is heavily regulated. So what are India’s strict censors to do with a play that unabashedly shouts vagina to the rooftops, throws back the curtain on sexual violence, and even discusses *gasp* orgasms? Here’s the article if you’d like to read about the attempt to bring The Vagi-, er, “The V Monologues” to India.
“Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
– J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone