New Rule in High School: Say “Vagina,” Get Suspended

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Spotted on Feministing:

Saying the word “vagina” during a reading at a John Jay High School open mic session has resulted in suspension for three female students and has sparked a debate about censorship throughout the community.

School administrators had warned the girls it would be inappropriate to say the word while reading a selection from Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” but the students were willing to suffer the consequences.

Jeepers. Here’s the news article. Thankfully, students and parents are organizing and speaking out — they’ve already got a facebook group (the students) and a letter-writing campaign (the parents). The administrators of the school are saying that the issue isn’t censorship, it’s insubordination, which is kind of odd because the original ban on saying the word that the girls defied was censorship, no?

Eve Ensler has volunteered to go to the school and talk about the situation. Her quote to the press: “What is wrong about the word ‘vagina,’ which is the correct biological term for a body part? It is not slang. It is not dirty or racy. The fact that it was censored is an indication of exactly what is going on in American schools, where girls and boys are not being educated about their bodies in a healthy way. We’re pushing everything into the closet. We need open, healthy sex education where girls know and love their bodies.”

For the record, the offending V-word came in the verse: “My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women’s army. I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina’s country.” The girls considered not saying the word, or holding up a sign with the world written on it, but in the end did “not feel they had the liberty to change a work of art.”

Bravo, kids. Turn this whole thing into a wicked college application essay.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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