Vagina play faces protest

2003-03-16 16:41
Johannesburg - The organisers of two benefit performances of the play, "The Vagina Monologues" in Cape Town and Pretoria this week, say they are "dumbfounded" by the plans of a Christian interest group to stage pickets outside theatres to protest against what the group calls a "pornographic" production.

Africa Christian Action, supported by the parliamentary opposition group the African Christian Democratic Party, plan to demonstrate outside Cape Town's Baxter Theatre on Monday night and outside the State Theatre in Pretoria on Wednesday.

In a media statement, the group described the play as "pornographic" and claimed it degraded women and promoted promiscuity.

And in a newsletter to its supporters, the group also says that play features "obscene words and female 'flashing'."

"The show presents women as 'vaginas' rather than people made in God's image," Africa Christian Action says.

The group says its supporters will "pray, sing, read Scripture and hand out tracts to passers-by and patrons" and that the group will supply banners and posters. It also urges its supporters to complain telephonically about the staging of the play to the management of the Baxter.

V-Day South Africa, however, dismissed Africa Christian Action's claims, saying there was nothing pornographic or degrading about the play and that it was meant to empower women.

V-Day is a global movement designed to inspire new awareness of violence against women and children, and assists in raising money for local anti-violence organisations.

"Obviously the group has never seen nor read 'The Vagina Monologues' as they will realise that women do not expose themselves publicly and that there is nothing pornographic about this play," V-Day South Africa spokesperson Samantha Manclark said in a statement.

"We are dumbfounded by the attitude of this group? what else would the vagina possibly represent but women and femininity? Of the South African population, half are women - people who have vaginas. As such, am I to understand that I must deny that I have a vagina or, at least, not speak of having one?"

The play was based on interviews with hundreds of real women so it tells real stories, Manclark said.

While some of the stories were horrific and might upset and offend some people, they were true and revealed the violence that was perpetrated against women every day, all over the world.

"There is nothing about The Vagina Monologues play that promotes promiscuity, or casual sex. It is about empowering and celebrating women," she said.

A number of public figures and celebrities will take part in this week's performances of "The Vagina Monologues".

In Cape Town, they include Tourism Cape Town chief Sheryl Ozinsky, model Kerry McGregor, Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille and former Miss SA Jo-Anne Strauss. In Pretoria, they include a huge range of well-known artists, television stars, radio presenters and journalists.

Organisations working to curb violence against woman will benefit from the productions.

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