Saturday, March 25, 2006

Deconstructing "The Vagina Monologues"

Deconstructing "The Vagina Monologues"

7:29 AM 3/25/06 Sat

Earlier this week, on the long commute home from work, I heard on NPR's "This I Believe" segment, the famed playright and Women's Rights Activist Eve Ensler give her take on what she believed and why she believed it. Of course, Ensler hardly needs any introduction; her "Vagina Monolgues" one-woman act play has appeared all over the world, been translated into many languages, and has had guest appearances from such cultural powerhouses as Oprah Winfrey and Jane Fonda. Her NPR "monologue" gave me pause - and opportunity - to deconstruct & expose, astrologically and otherwise, some gaping holes (pardon the pun) in Ms. Ensler's logic.

Ensler was born on May 25 1953 in Scarsdale, NY, according to Wikipedia.com. No birthtime is known, but the Solar chart paints a very clear picture as to what drives this woman. Her chart is Air-rich, with 4 planets in Gemini (the Sun, Mars, Jupiter & Mercury) and another 3 in Libra (Saturn, Neptune and the Moon), giving us a grand total of 7 planets in Air Signs. Usually, when a chart displays such an "imbalance" elementally (and indeed, in terms of aspect, or House placement, etc.) it is a signal of the person "overdoing it" with regard to that particular element. In Ensler's case, she "overdoes it" in terms of the world of ideas; she is in thrall to them, to the words she conveys to express those ideas. Concepts, thoughts and the like have huge appeal for her, and though I have never met the woman, I am certain that she is probably a "mile a minute" talker.

Note also that Ensler has no planets in Earth Signs, and here again this is a signal to asrtrologers that the "missing element" will manifest itself strongly in some way in the person's reality; Ensler has a very difficult time dealing with the world as it is, with the hard facts on the ground; her many ideas, while dramatically presented and persuasive in conceptual abstract, has little if any real application to the real world. A decided lack of Earth planets in any person's chart, can suggest that person not being "grounded" in some way.

On the day that Ensler was born, the Moon shifted Signs from Libra to Scorpio; from what I've read & seen about her in my research, I'm gonna go for the Libra Moon option. This would put the late degree (at 25 Libra around 6AM) Libra Moon in conjunction with the Saturn-Neptune conjunction, a generational signal of father figure dysfunctionality, or in some other way father figure vulnerability. Indeed, this was the case - she was sexually abused in her childhood by her father. Note that Saturn is Retrograde, a classic "unfinished bussiness with the father" signal, and again, in conjunction with Neptune, a further diminishing of the Saturn symbol. This Libra cluster sits in the Solar 5th House, all of which is opposed Venus in Aries in the 11th. In my study of sexual abuse, domestic violence and the like in connection with the charts of women, I have found that usually, Mars and Pluto come to the surface, usually in aspect with each other, with one or both of them tying themselves into the Parental Axis (4th-10th Houses), the 7th House, and/or the 5th-8th Houses. In Ensler's case, please note that Mars disposes of Venus, the Solar 5th ruler, and sextile Pluto, and both Mars and Pluto are in aspect to both Saturn and Neptune, itself ruler of the Solar 10th. Mars and Pluto are more powerful than they seem in this map because of both the declinational aspect they make to each other, as well as their participation in the Pluto=Venus/Mars midpoint, a very strong indice of sexual activity, for better or worse. Ensler's entire career has been built around her sexual experiences, and speaks as a sort of sexual advocate for women everywhere. The "Vagina Monologue" signature is easily seen, not only in the aforemention aspect constructs, but also in terms of the Sign position of Venus (in Aries, the "tease", a certain ego-centric drive and focus), its opposition to the Moon (Moon-Venus aspects tend to connote a certain degree of self-absorption, narcissism, indulgence) and the harsh aspects the Saturn-Neptune conjunction makes to both Female Planets (the Moon and Venus, in a woman's chart, symbolizing how she sees herself as a woman, etc.).

The driving force behind the "Vagina Monologues" is in, as Ensler said the other day on NPR, "no longer being silent" about the themes of violence towards women, of sexual empowerment (in large part by her advocating the frequent use of the word "vagina") and the issues surrounding body image so many women have (again, Moon-Venus symbolisms), and in fact, during her segment on NPR, she said that she wanted to continue to "raise awareness" of these issues, particularly regarding violence against women, not only at home but especially abroad, in places like Afghanistan, etc.

On its face, all of these comments sound great, and really, who could disagree with them? But upon closer inspection - and by employing some simple commonsense - Ms. Ensler's positions look a bit weaker than they do from a distance.

First of all, insofar as Afghanistan goes, freedoms for women there have greatly improved, thanks to the Bush Administration's invasion of that country and their toppling the Taliban regime. Nowadays, Afghan girls attend schools more than boys do (most of whom are still within the Madrassa system), Afghan women are no longer held hostage in their homes behind blackened out windows, forced to wear burkhas from head to toe, shot at the soccer field before thousands for such transgressions as making too much noise while walking down the street, or having their fingernails pulled out for having them painted. Afghan women, for the first time in decades, voted in recent freely held elections, and there are many voices of expression among the female population of Afghanistan. There is still much to do, but no one can deny the great strides and progress this country has made in such a short amount of time. No can, of course, unless you're Ensler or those who agree with her views, which in part, are decidedly anti-Bush. And this again points to my analysis above of the Earth-weaknesses and Air over-emphasis in her chart, the inability or unwillingness to see the facts on the ground.

Second, Ensler's whole approach - basing her works on her own experiences with her father - follows in lockstep fashion with the Feminist ideal of "the political is personal". In other words, whatever happens in one's life as a woman, is not merely an individual occurance, but is a window onto the world's experiences of women everywhere. This is a key tenet of Feminist thought, and one that needs to be addressed directly and with as much cool logic as possible. Think about it - no one denies that violence against women has existed and in some measures, still exists today - but it is not only a mistake to attempt to change, or indeed, craft public policy based on the experiences of a few, but it's also somewhat disengenuous to imply that nothing has been done to remedy the ills that Ensler and others fight against. Moreover, the very fact that Ensler can get away with using a word (over and over and over) that, if it came out of the mouths of any man, regardless of the context, would be derided as "objectification", is analogous to the same ridiculous logic extant in the Black community, where the gratuitous use of the word "Nigga" is somehow legitimate when Black people do it (regardless of the context, reason, etc.) but is inexcusable and tantamount to blatant racism when anyone White does it (again, regardless of the context or reason, etc.). Contrary to to both Ensler's and many Black thinkers and pundits' defenses as to why such words and phrases should be "protected speech" the reality is that it is nothing of the sort and indeed, is only Victimology run amok. Neptune, represents "the victim" mentality, the infant who refuses to grow up and take full and complete responsibility for one's actions in this world. Both The Black community, as well Ensler herself, has Neptune powerfully situated at the center of their astrological experience and reality (in Ensler's case, again, note Neptune's conjuction with her Libra Moon and Saturn!). Let me be crystal clear here - in no way am I making any excuse for the sexual abuse Ensler suffered at the hands of her father. Absolutely not. If it were up to me, such men would be thrown under the jail, if not worse, for such an offense, for they have not only violated another person in the worst way, but they have disgraced both themselves and dads everywhere by their actions. That said, one cannot get help but get the sense that whenever Ensler (and others of her ilk) talks, it's as if every man present is put under a microscope, forever condemned as a denginerate sadistic rapist, or at least the strong potential for one, regardless of that individual man's track record with regard to women.

Third, Ensler either refuses to acknowledge, or cannot see, that insofar as the United States goes, tremendous strides have been made to curb violence against women, from so-called "shield laws" to the Violence Against Women Act, passed during Metrosexual Bill Clinton's era. Indeed, figures tracking violent crime of all kinds from the early 1990s nationwide, shows dramatic reductions, which results in less violent crime today. Rape is still a heinous, evil act, but it occurs less today than it did even 10 years ago, and certainly is a far cry from the days of the Women's Suffaragettes.

But the flipside is something that neither Ensler nor any of the "Sisterhood" wish to take a hard look at - and that is the growing trend of abuse of the rape-law system by women. Indeed, many men know, that the mere accusation of rape is enough to seriously damage, if not completely ruin their lives. Despite the promises of the US Constitution, men accused of rape are guilty until proven innocent, while the accusers remain cloaked behind a pantomime of legal protections (another blatant violation og the Constitution - to know who one's accusers are, in public). For every instance of a woman was who actually vicisciously raped, there is a case where the woman wasn't raped at all, and used the system to get even with a man or group of men when she felt she wasn't treated right.

Indeed, here in my hometown of Philly, one can point to two recent instances. The most recent, involving a Kansas City woman and several Philadelphia Soul arena football players, had the woman at first contending that she was held down and raped by a group of the Soul team - of course, the fact that this woman had had numerous drinks at the bar with the players and then agreed to go back to their hotel room had nothing to do with it. Finally, she dropped the rape charge.

In another, more far reaching and serious case, last year, two Black La Salle basketball players were found innocent in a trial where a White female student contended that they had raped her while she was drunk. However, the case fell apart when one of the lady's girlfriends testified that the lady had a "thing" for Black atheletes, and made her intentions known that she wanted to have several of them sexually; by the time her fantasy came to life, she was a bit ashamed of what she'd done, and said the men raped her. Although the young men were found innocent, the damage had been done - they were removed from the basketball team, and eventually were removed from La Salle altogether, on the grounds that having sex was against the university's Catholic policy (one has to wonder, if they would force a woman student who had an abortion, to leave as well? Hmm...). It is not known if the woman student who brought the rape charges in the first place was also similarly forced to leave campus.

These are but two instances where a man's future, livelihood and standing in the community literally hangs in the balance whenever he is accused of rape - and now, with the very definition of rape having morphed from an unknown attacker jumping out of a dark alley and hitting a woman upside the head, to a horny hubbie wanting some from his wife, and everywhere in between, rape nowadays can mean anything, to any woman, at anytime, regardless of the context of the circumstances, her role in the affair, etc. While it was well intentioned on the part of activists and their sympathizers in the halls of goverment to install draconian laws and protections in the area of violence against women, one would have to be delusional not to be able to see that it opens a very wide door for the chance to abuse these laws, with many innocent man strewn accross the courtroom floor in its wake. In the words of one accused man, uttered after the end of his trial concluded (and his acquittal):

"Where do I go to get my reputation back?"

To my knowledge, there is no criminal penalty for any woman, anywhere in the USA, for falsely accusing a man of rape. But we do have criminal penalties for anyone shouting "fire!" in a crowded theatre, or for calling out the Fire Dept. on a hoax. These are serious crimes in and of themselves, because Society recognizes that they not only hurt the common good, but they also abuse and make mockery of those laws in the first place by those who would use them as playthings. If rape is defined nowadays as the violation of a woman in the most intimate way, can anyone really argue that a man falsely accused of rape is any less violated?

If Ensler really wants to assist her "sisters", especially in terms of sexual empowerment, owning their bodies and fighting against stereotypes, violence and the like, she can start by taking a strong dose of Personal Responsibility herself, and pass it round; as Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker in the fictional "Spider-Man" comics and movies, "with great power, comes great responsibility". Simply put, women must be held accountable for their decisions, sexually and otherwise, in the same ways that men are held to account for theirs. For anyone to balk at this simple, commonsense directive, is to literally piss on the ideals of what real equality means, while at the same time revealing the true nature of Ensler and others: the subjugation of anything and everything male.

Word.

Deconstruction over.

Salaam,
Mu

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