My alma mater’s new president, Fr. Brian Shanley, has seen the light on the Vagina Monologues. After administrators had feared for years to take a stand on the vulgar feminist program, Shanley has taken a commendable stand.
Shanley wrote a letter to the college yesterday:
The back cover of my paperback edition of The Vagina Monologues asserts (1) that its principal aim is to be “a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery” and (2) that it has been “hailed as a bible for a new generation of women.” I would argue that both of these claims are false. First, far from celebrating the complexity and mystery of female sexuality, The Vagina Monologues simplifies and demystifies it by reducing it to the vagina. In contrast, Roman Catholic teaching sees female sexuality as ordered toward a loving giving of self to another in a union of body, mind, and soul that is ordered to the procreation of new life. The deeper complexity and mystery lies in the capacity of human sexuality, both male and female, to sacramentalize the love of God in marriage. Any depiction of female sexuality that neglects its unitive and procreative dimensions diminishes its complexity, its mystery, and its dignity. Moreover, to explore fully the dignity of woman requires not only a consideration of female sexuality, but also of the capacity of women for intellectual, artistic, moral, and spiritual activity; none of these dimensions are featured in The Vagina Monologues.
Second, the description of the play as a “new bible” is an indication that its depiction of female sexuality is meant to displace the traditional Biblical view that inspires the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The two positions are deeply and diametrically opposed. Nowhere is this clearer than in a monologue wherein the alcohol-fueled seduction of a sixteen-year-old girl by a twenty-four-year-old woman is described as resulting in “salvation” and “a kind of heaven.” What is thus characterized in traditional religious language is instead abusive, demeaning, exploitative, and morally wrong according to the true Bible. Precisely because its depiction of female sexuality is so deeply at odds with the true meaning and morality that the Catholic Church’s teaching celebrates, The Vagina Monologues is not an appropriate play to be performed on our campus. Therefore the college will prohibit the production of The Vagina Monologues.
Hopefully Shanley’s push back toward Providence’s Catholicism will clear the way for such schools as Notre Dame to do the same next week. President Jenkins is scheduled to speak on the subject of the play and academic freedom. Pray that he sides with Truth.
UPDATE: I’m scanning the online archives of my undergrad paper, The Cowl, for a few highlights of the ongoing Monologues controversy. The administration’s equivocating we-don’t-like-it-but-we’re-allowing-it-anyway statement is here. My critique in 2002 launched pages of letters. Steph Pietros twice slammed the production as degrading to women.