The Vagina Monologues has been running for more than twenty years. It has debuted in more than 200 countries and has raised billions for the global "V-Day" movement to end domestic violence. But in a clash of ideologies of women's sexual politics, the play attracts strong criticism from conservatives, radical feminists, marginalized women of color, and a spectrum of lesbian and queer activists. In this article, we explore the immediate success and contentious diffusion of The Vagina Monologues as we trace the play from its billing as a feminist rite of passage to its condemnation, alternately, as offending morality and as a relic of white, heterosexual, cisgender liberation. We elucidate how this movement and the dynamics of its variable reception exemplifies all that is at stake in a "restaging" of women's private sexual troubles into a public realm—defined as the collective strategic movement of relational politics from one social sphere to another—as an explicit effort to resist and reformulate those politics.


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pp. 207-234
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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