Jack Pollock
How Much for the Pussy?

On Thursday, a handful of activists stood outside the Newmark Theatre along SW Broadway, in order to object to the play being performed there. They believe that the play, a nationwide traveling show based on the book of the same name, The Vagina Monologues, misrepresents an intersex individual.

The performance is a series of vignettes written by women about vaginas. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) represents those people who are born with gender-nonspecific genitals. While they do not object to the Vagina Monologues on the whole, they do object to one particular vignette, titled "The Missing Vagina." It is a story of a girl who discovers that she has an abnormality--she is literally missing her vagina. In order to remedy the situation, her father promises to get her "The best homemade pussy in America." Her father goes on to say, "When you meet your husband he's gonna know we had it made specially for him."

ISNA objects to this story because in the performance, "audience members are invited to laugh hysterically to the father's exclamation," explains Emi Koyama, a member of ISNA, in a recent press release. Moreover, Koyama continues, this part of the monologue "suggests that women's bodies are made solely for their husbands, and that we should alter our bodies to match what is desired by them."

The actual condition in which the vagina is missing or not developed, ISNA pointed out, is called Mayer-Rokatansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome (MRKHS), and falls into the category of Intersex. ISNA estimates that one in 2000 children is born intersex.

The press release distributed also included an essay written by a woman named Esther Morris, a woman born with MRKHS. In the essay, called, "The Missing Vagina Monologue," Morris tells her own story, and explains that "I want people to understand that doing the right thing often does more harm than good. The standard of normal that we aim for is imaginary. We alter women's bodies when attitudes need adjusting."

ISNA's primary concern is to "end shame, secrecy, and unwanted surgeries on intersex children." In the story presented in The Vagina Monologues, the condition of the girl born without a vagina is remedied by having surgery. KATIA DUNN