The Vagina Monologues is performed at Boston College as part of the V-Day College Campaign. “V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop worldwide violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.” The goals that V-Day sets are noble ones, ones which a Catholic institution should clearly support. The Church is against all of the above acts of violence that V-Day is trying to fight. People may wonder why the play has garnered such attention and caused so much controversy at Catholic campuses.
The reason has to do with the content of the play. The play continues to treat women as objects to be used instead of people to be loved. The play does not get to the root of the problem, the objectification of women. It continues the objectification of women and merely condemns certain acts as wrong. All of this will be seen when we go through the play skit by skit.
In the meantime, I think we can all agree that Catholic institutions should do something during the year to raise awareness about violence against women. Universities should be creative in doing this without compromising their Catholicity.
However, the V-Day organizers try to systematically refute many of the broader claims of the Cardinal Newman Society. We will respond to them now.
They say, “The pieces in ‘The Vagina Monologues’ are all reflections of real women's experiences. Some of the stories are not politically correct, but they are all real. It is important to allow all of the voices of women to be heard, regardless of how we personally feel about their experiences, as violence against women happens everywhere affecting one in three women worldwide.”
While the plays are based on women’s real life stories, they have been edited to work better on stage. This can be seen by going and taking the original script out of the library. In the controversial statutory rape story, some scripts say she was 12 at the time, others say she was 14. This is proof that the play has been edited. Furthermore, some of the vulgarity (such as the chanting of the word cunt) was put into the play for entertainment. It has nothing to do with the women’s stories. It is used as fun in between skits. It is fair to say that this is unnecessary vulgarity. Similarly, while the stories may be based in fact, the solutions that they offer to the problem of violence to women is what must be rejected. There is nothing wrong with listening to real woman’s experiences, but is this the right way to go about it?
Finally they write, “What else would the vagina possibly represent but women and femininity?” In the play, vaginas do not represent women but are said to be the whole of women. Women are treated as nothing other than their one body part and their urges associated with it.
Please stay tuned for the skit by skit analysis to be done in mid-January.