Who is truly celebrating women's empowerment, those viewing the Vagina Monologues and simulating the moans of sex, or those who pray the Rosary and celebrate a Woman who is the model of purity?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

By Mary Ann Kreitzer

It's that time of year again. Valentine's Day looms and feminists start thinking about and celebrating their private body parts. The Vagina Monologues, a play traditionally performed around Valentines Day, is a lesbian bacchanalia performed on campuses all over the country even purportedly Catholic campuses. It celebrates female lewdness - to be more specific, lesbian female lewdness including the seduction and rape of a teenage girl by a lesbian adult who plies her with liquor. Most intelligent adults would recognize that as child abuse, but for author Eve Ensler it's "a good rape." In the original text the child was 13, but outrage caused Ensler to raise her age to 16. The girl was also heterosexually raped at age ten by a friend of her father. Not surprising, all men are brutes and rapists to the feminist, particularly the lesbian feminist, mind. The second rape, the "good rape," presumably heals the first and makes it all better. That this play is seriously treated on college and university campuses speaks volumes about the disintegration of higher education.

It is certainly jolting to see Ensler simultaneously claiming to be opposed to violence against women while defending a crime against a girl child. Her enthusiasm for reciting the names of body parts is nothing short of juvenile, like little boys on the playground calling each other "vagina-poop" and "penis breath." One gets the sense from the play that Ensler herself never grew out of the anal stage when children play in their feces. But perhaps that's not surprising considering practices common to homosexuals that involve bodily waste.

What is particularly baffling to Catholics, though, is the enthusiasm for this pornographic and puerile nonsense on some Catholic campuses. In the past few years the number of Catholic schools showing the monologues has dropped thanks to organized protests by The Cardinal Newman Society, but some schools, notably Jesuit-run, continue to defend it with a zeal bordering on hysteria. Fr. James Keane, S.J., a graduate student at Fordham University in the Bronx, showed audacity when he chastised those who protested the play in an article at bustedhalo.com. He was particularly incensed by a group of seminarians who held a prayer vigil with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a crucifix, describing their action as "obsessive heresy hunting." Can one expect much sense from a man who equates "women's empowerment" with a movement that encourages women to chant, "vulva, vulva, vulva?" Empowerment?

Fr. Keane lamented the fact that students said the protest reminded them of groups outside abortion clinics. He described their words as "the most heartbreaking news of all.... In the students’ minds, the protesters (some in Roman collars) had equated a real and menacing evil, the slaughter of unborn children and the mutilation of their mothers, with a student-produced play put on to encourage women’s empowerment." But who was really celebrating "women's empowerment" - the audience inside engaging in the "moaning monologue" (simulating sounds made during sex) or the seminarians praying the rosary before a picture of the model of purity. While abortion is clearly the more grievous evil, as Father points out, there are other evils. Our Lady told the three shepherd children at Fatima that clothing would come into fashion that would grieve her son very much. "Penance, penance, penance," she urged. Is public lewdness any less offensive to the Blessed Mother than immodest clothing?

Unfortunately, statements like Fr. Keane's aren't unusual from Jesuit cheerleaders for the play, including some college presidents. In 2005 Loyal University (New Orleans) president, Kevin Wildes, S.J. said, "The play affords an opportunity for everyone to think critically about the social issues involved in the treatment of women." Is a play celebrating lesbian sex really the best venue for exploring women's social issues? Also in 2005 Notre Dame president Edward Malloy justified the performance saying, "Such interactions allow students to engage the controversial topics of the day in the context of our distinct intellectual, religious and moral traditions. While there are elements of this production which are offensive to many members of the Notre Dame community because they contravene positions of the Catholic Church, a responsible academic setting is precisely the place where controversial topics should be examined and discussed." By that rational why not invite Hustler editor Larry Flynt to come and discuss the merits of his life's work? Alas, I forgot, Georgetown already did it.

Students today know little about Shakespeare and even less about Dante and Milton. In 1996, following a national trend in higher education, most schools dropped their requirement for English majors to study the classics.What were universities substituting? Pop culture. Students were now free to pursue studies in detective fiction, prison literature, soap operas, gender literature, even graffiti. The trend continues today. Few English departments require students to study Shakespeare, the greatest writer of the English language. In the dumbing down of American higher education, promotion of the Vagina Monologues makes a certain sense. The vocabulary is certainly easier since it's filled with four-letter words. Ensler is riding the wave of the Madonna/Britney Spears generation. One is hard-pressed to see the women who surf that wave as being either empowered or showing a capacity for intelligent discernment.

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