You Call This a Protest?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

One imagines that you could get 17 passersby to watch a game of rock, paper, scissors on a spring day in Lafayette Park, so why is it "news" that a similar number showed up for a conservative conference to protest "The Vagina Monologues" [Style, March 8]?

Inspired to activism by Ann Coulter, the leader of these "17 young women" somehow merits an 1,100-word article -- perhaps more than the entire V-Day campaign to stop violence against women has merited in your paper. Since when does your paper's precious preoccupation with "balance" entail giving disproportionate space to fringe groups of minuscule impact? And if it was so important, shouldn't the byline have been other than "Special to The Washington Post" -- so we might be able to judge whether the writer has any affiliation with the subject group?

-- Barry A. Kemelhor

Rockville

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Your paper gave too much coverage to Monique Stuart, who argues that "The Vagina Monologues" reduces women to nothing but their private parts. I cannot help but see the matter completely differently. "The Vagina Monologues" celebrates women -- their minds, their passions, their vaginas, their voices, their friendships -- in a series of monologues that bind these aspects of womanhood together. The play's focus on the vagina is not meant to objectify.

Rather, Eve Ensler's play shines a light on various symbolic and emotional milestones in women's lives that occur in conjunction with their vaginas. These milestones range from a first period to a rape. By showcasing women's experiences with their vaginas, Ensler has validated and honored the once-silenced experiences of millions of women.

-- Stephanie Elaine Davidson

New York

The writer is producer of "The Vagina Monologues."

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The article about "The Vagina Monologues" gave credibility and a platform to a woman who represents an extremely vocal minority and who, through her opposition, is denying funding for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Monique Stuart and her V-Day Unveiled campaign are not comparable with Eve Ensler and V-Day in terms of effect, fundraising, motivation or support. Any article presenting her as such is at best sloppy journalism and at worst grossly misleading.

The article never proves that Stuart has any following for her movement, aside from the 17 young women attending the conservative conference and a reference to a "call with more than a dozen women's outreach directors from the College Republicans to talk about protesting the play." By contrast, V-Day lists over 2,700 performances of the play taking place this year, and the campaign has raised over $30 million for anti-violence groups.

Isn't that worth covering instead?

-- Mason Taylor

New York

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