Women share stories to help others

'Vagina Monologues' shows to benefit Tri-Valley Haven's domestic violence programs

Eve Ensler's popular production, "The Vagina Monologues" is back at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore to help bolster the Tri-Valley Haven'ts domestic violence and sexual assault programs.

The show opens at 8 p.m. tonight with performances also taking place April 9 at the same time. Local businesses will also host performances during downtown Livermore's shopping event from 6 to 9 p.m. April 7.

In keeping with the spirit of the show, Livermore's downtown association has deemed April to be Women Helping Women month. Downtown merchants will be offering special items -- such as "V-tinis" -- with proceeds also going to the Haven.

Tickets range from $27 to $42 and can be purchased at or by calling 373-6800.

The Haven's funding was recently slashed due to state budget cuts. Its Rape Crisis Center serves over 200 sexual assault survivors from Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin each year. Additionally, more than 300 women and children stay in the domestic violence shelter annually. The Haven strives to break the cycle of violence by teaching classes in area high schools, elementary and middle schools.

For more information, call Christine at 449-5845.

--Emily West


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Mar 31, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Although I'm glad they want to do nice things for women's crisis groups, I think the name of this play is vulgar. Before anyone complains, this has nothing to do with being "prudish" or anything else. Private stuff should be private so I'm going to donate my money directly to these organizations and not bother supporting the play.

Posted by ZZZzzz, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 31, 2010 at 4:05 pm

If you hadn't already lost me at "women share stories," you definitely would have lost me at "help others."

How about some robots or ninjas or something?

Posted by m, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm

So to help others with domestic violence they put on a play that sensationalizes the vagina. The very thing that seems to be what women are saying they do NOT want to be identified with ... you know the "I am not an vaginal object" argument. But then you say I haven't sat and listened to the Vagina Monologues ... no I haven't. I am afraid that I would be supporting those who make sexuality a focus for sexual abuse.

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2010 at 9:08 am

I'd like to see what would happen if someone penned a new play and called it "The ----- Chronicles", after the male genitals. I'm sure a lot of people would be offended and outraged so why is it ok to name a play after women's privates?

Posted by Saw it..., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I have seen the VM and although parts of it were funny, the majority of it was uncomfortable and at times, disturbing. I get it that there are bad people out in the world doing bad things, but some of the "monologues" were incredibly nauseating. I think there are other ways of getting the messages across without seeing middle aged and older women talking about their vagina and how they communicate with it. Sorry, won't be running out and buying a ticket again.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm

You all are missing the point. The Monologues were created to raise money and awareness to stop violence against women and girls in their community and abroad.

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

To: Anonymous

We are not missing the point. Raising money and awareness is a good thing, but not when it comes in a form such as this that "sensationalizes" women's privates.

Posted by Sammie, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

All of you self-righteous conservatives who are offended by the word "vagina" should either get a life or simply build a time machine that transports you back to 1952, where your repressed sensibilities belong.

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm

to "Sammie":

This has nothing to do with being "conservative" or "liberal". If you do the research, you will find that some feminists have been very critical of this play for the same reasons others have mentioned here. You should actually read what people write on the forums. If you understood the content of the posts here as well as the content of the play you would understand (unless you are on here only to be critial).

Posted by Karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Well, this the play has certainly stirred things up. That means it is doing its job.

Caveat: I am directing The Vagina Monologues this year and appeared in it last year (I did Say It -- which was about the Japanese comfort women). The content of the play does not sensationalize women's private parts. The point of some of the lighter monologues is to get us to the point where we can feel comfortable about our sexuality, which does have something to do with having a vagina.

The "heavier" monologues are stories from women who have been victims of violence. And many of those women have suffered in silence, never having the opportunity to tell their stories -- the Comfort Women are perfect examples of this. I think it's important that these storied be told and that we be willing to listen to them.

For whatever reason, violence against women has been seen as a "spoil" of war, as a family matter, as something they asked for. To change that story, we have to start by telling the story. And that is what The Vagina Monologues does.

And, personally, I think the more we feel comfortable with the word "vagina" and having one, the less likely we are to numb ourselves to violence against women.

As for a play about the penis, there is one. It's called "The Irish Curse." It was reviewed in Tuesday's NY Times: Web Link

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I disagree with what you said Karen because there's a difference between calling something "Vagina Monologues" as opposed to "The irish Curse" where the subject matter isn't clear from the title and doesn't actually refer to men's genitals therein. There isn't a "story" to listen to that I believe actually supports women as intellectual beings with a mind, heart and sexuality. The play has a very restrictive view of sex that is completely contrary to the way most people view it.

Furthermore, I do not believe that the play's main goal is to help women feel comfortable with their sexuality. Read the work of Betty Dodson and Wendy McElroy and you will see negativity towards heterosexual interactions and an association of sex with violence rather than a focus on sex as a loving thing that takes place between two people with deep emotional connections.

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm

In my previous statement, the "negativity" I referred to are what the noted feminists had expressed vis-a-via the play itself.

Posted by ZZZzzz, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 7, 2010 at 7:38 pm


I very much appreciate you taking the time to respond here. While we have your attention, any chance you could "director-in" some dinosaurs or pirates?

Posted by Karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm


All I can say is I disagree with you. I have no problem with the use of the word vagina. I understand that you do. What I think the play (The Vagina Monologues) does is bring to light how fear of women's sexuality has led to the degradation of women (through genital mutilation, rape, and domestic violence). This degradation has, in turn, muted women's sexuality. I believe (and I think I can support it by citing the work) The Vagina Monologues is about women reclaiming their sexuality. I also believe that the play shows how women talk when they get together.

If you want a play about loving sex between two people, you need to see a different play, or perhaps, write one.

Posted by ZZZzzz, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm


Suggested title: The Velociraptor Dialogues

Posted by karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm


I have no idea what you are trying to say other than that you don't want to hear women share stories and that helping others is not your cup of tea. That is certainly your right, but I don't find it very interesting.

Posted by ZZZzzz, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Now I'm not inviting you to my dinosaur play.

Posted by Mel, a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:27 am

I think this play is an excellent way to open up dialogue about something that we just don't discuss: Women's sexuality, women's bodies, and yes-- the vagina. I've seen The Vagina Monologues and while there are segments that can be uncomfortable or disturbing, that does not diminish the message or the value of the play. Yes, there were parts I disliked; but guess what? Disagreement and conflict and differing opinions are perfectly welcome! As long as we are talking about the subject at all, it is a victory for women everywhere. The sad part is that many of the people reading these comments won't even take the time to go out and see this play, and try *truly* opening up their minds to someone else's perspective. Give it a chance!

PS: Thank you, Karen, for your input on this. Keep up the good work-- and BRAVA to Tri-Valley Haven!!

Posted by j, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 8, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Mel, Well said!

I can't believe all of this concern over the word vagina. Have to agree with Sammie that it feels like another era. And of course monologues that tell the true stories of women who have been violently assaulted, raped and killed are uncomfortable. That is the point. As Karen rightly points out, it is only by telling their stories that we can hope to change them.

The implication that art should never make us uncomfortable or be disturbing is interesting... All Disney all the time, I guess.

(ZZZzzz, you crack me up.)

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:18 am

It is clear from the latest comments that no one actually read what I wrote. The latest comments are an attempt to discredit anyone who expresses negativity towards the play simply by suggesting that those who are against it don't want to "listen" or "help". If you want to engage in lively debate, fine, but play by the rules.

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:30 am

Lest you think this is about conservative vs. liberalism:

An interesting quote by Wendy McElroy:

"A play that claims to unveil the truth about vaginas but, somehow, overlooks the salutary role men play in most women's sexuality has no credibility. Worse than this, "The Vagina Monologues" equates men with "the enemy" and heterosexual love with violence.

Betty Dodson — a leader of '60s liberal feminism whose life's work has aimed at demystifying women's sexuality — expressed well-deserved horror at the play.

Describing Ensler as "an evangelical minister," Dodson believes that the play is a blast of hatred at men and heterosexuality. After all, the 24-year-old woman who seduces the drunken 13-year-old is portrayed as "rescuing" her from male violence.

"Take Back the Night" is a rallying cry that PC feminism raises against male violence. Perhaps the rallying call for Feb. 14 should be "Take Back the Day" — Valentine's Day — a cry that women who love the men in their lives should take up. "

Posted by Karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:09 am


I can't tell whether or not you've seen the play. It does not bash men, nor does it equate men with "the enemy" nor does it in any way declare hatred of heterosexuality.

I've done a cursory search (on the Internet) to find out more about Wendy McElroy's and Betty Dodson's critiques of The Vagina Monologues. I was more successful finding Betty Dodson's critique. In my opinion, she wanted a different play than the one Eve Ensler has written. That is not a critique of Ensler's work: it is a critique of a play she thought Ensler should have written instead. That is not valid criticism.

If you haven't seen the play, I would encourage you see it and form an opinion based on the play itself, rather than someone else's opinion of the play that should have been written instead.

There is room -- plenty of room -- for other plays. I also encourage you, or Betty Dodson or Wendy McElroy to write the play they want to see.

I am not an acolyte of Eve Ensler. I just think she has written a powerful piece that runs the gamut of heart breaking to poignant to funny.

There is one more performance in Livermore today (April 9) if you have never seen the performance and are interested.

Posted by ZZZzzz, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

Looks like a lot of the negative criticism cited here came from a Wikipedia article.

Here's a link: Web Link

Posted by karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:14 am


Becuase Wikipedia is notoriously shallow and sometimes incorrect, when I did my research I looked for other source articles. I'm assuming that Qwerty did as well.

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I found my articles on websites from specific people. Don't assume everything comes from wikipedia.

Posted by Karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:59 pm


I do hope you come to the performance. Would be interested in what you have to say after seeing a performance. You might feel the same way. I just think it would be interesting to see if you have the same reaction to the piece as the women you quote.

Posted by Karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 10, 2010 at 9:34 am


I listened carefully to men who attended last night's final performance of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. None expressed discomfort or any feeling of having been bashed.

I say this just so you know that there are differing points of view about the play. I do hope you went to see it or will attend a performance in the future. Again, I am assuming that you have never seen the play performed.

Thanks for the lively discussion. If nothing else, this play certainly stirs things up.

And, don't forget to donate to Tri Valley Haven.

Posted by karen Hogan, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The donate to Tri Valley Haven was not meant to be directed solely at Qwerty. It was meant to remind anyone who has been following this dialogue to donate!

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