Thursday, February 21, 2002
Coming to a (Catholic?) Campus near You
For the second year in a row, Eve Ensler, author and occasional star of “The Vagina Monologues,” has applied her considerable media skills to persuade leading feminists and Hollywood celebrities to promote her play and her radical feminist politics by latching on to Valentine’s Day and re-naming it “V-Day.” In a recent issue of Dot.Commentary (“V is for ‘Vulgar”’-Feb. 7, 2002), we reported on plans to televise a production of Monologues on the pay-TV HBO network in prime time on Valentine’s Day. Billed as a celebration of feminist sexuality and a heroic condemnation of violence against women, the play is a prurient “performance art” containing numerous graphic references to female bodily functions and genitalia (in the book edition of the play, performers invite the audience to chant, “c__t, c__t, c__t” and “vagina, vagina, vagina”), and it has become a cause celebr/I> for everyone from Jane Fonda to Oprah Winfrey.
It has already been performed on numerous college campuses around the country, often in tandem with feminist “consciousness-raising” events and fundraising appeals for battered women’s shelters. But Monologues has also had a long association with pro-abortion causes as well. Consider one of the organizations that promotes it most vigorously-the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF). Monologues featured prominently in FMF’s recent efforts to raise support for their Million4Roe campaign, which aims to maintain a Supreme Court majority in favor of abortion on demand. (See “Sad Anniversary: Cause for Contemplation, not Celebration”-Dot.Commentary Jan. 11, 2002.) FMF’s campus campaign, Choices Campus Community, currently features on its homepage a Kansas City, MO fundraiser for a campus production of Monologues (extra proceeds to go to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri).
Given its long association with organizations and causes with a decidedly pro-abortion drift, it would seem unlikely (and unseemly) for this play to be performed at a Catholic college or university. But it has been scheduled recently at several prominent Catholic institutions, including Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois and Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. The decision to schedule the Holy Cross performance on one of the holiest days in the church calendar, Ash Wednesday, touched off a heated debate among students and alumni, especially when word got around campus that some of the proceeds might go to a group affiliated with Planned Parenthood. According to a story in the online Massachusetts News on Feb. 15, enough students raised concerns about this that the University altered its original plan concerning disbursement of proceeds until they could be certain the funds would not go to causes that violate some of the most basic tenets of the Catholic faith. Holy Cross President Rev. Michael C. McFarland maintained that the central issue was one of academic freedom and refused to block production of the play.
It appears that the only point on which University administrators were willing to concede to objections about Monologues was the abortion/contraception issue. But given the longstanding association between this play and pro-abortion causes, their reassurances are unconvincing. It would appear, then, that degrading and coarse feminist “performance art” that denigrates normal, heterosexual sexuality at every turn and glorifies lesbian pedophilia is okay with college administrators at all three of these venerable institutions-so long as the proceeds do not directly benefit organizations that support abortion. Yet abortion is a cornerstone of the same radical feminist mindset that holds up graphic descriptions of all sorts of sex acts as a means of ending violence against women. It simply will not wash, and it is a sad commentary on the extent to which these fine institutions have erred from their distinguished history of moral and academic excellence.