The student senate at Boston College voted to allocate $1,000 in college funds for increased 2009 campus productions ofThe Vagina Monologues. The Observer reports that a list of co-sponsors, including the theology department, was presented to the students in support of funding productions of the oft-criticized, vulgar play.
The Vagina Monologues is a sexually explicit and offensive play that favorably describes lesbian rape, group masturbation, and the reduction of sexuality to selfish pleasure. It is produced with the hope that by raising the awareness to violence against women, incidents of abuse will decrease.
The UGBC senate passed the decision to provide funds for the play in a narrow vote of 8-7. During deliberations, which lasted two hours, “concern over the appropriateness of the production and the need to bring women’s issues into the public eye” were debated, The Observer reports.
Students in support of the Monologues argued that there is a precedent for funding the play, set by previous years. Boston College has been a consistent host of the play in past semesters.
However, the student senators who opposed the resolution cited the explicit humor in the play. Senator John Karl, who had previously supported productions of the Monologues, said that after reading the script he was now “troubled that it portrayed sexual assault in a liberating manner.”
The Observer reports that in 2009 there will be three campus productions of The Vagina Monologues on campus. In past years there have been up to two performances a semester.
In the initial request for funding made to the student senators, a list of co-sponsors was included. “Perhaps the most controversial among this list of potential co-sponsors is the Theology Department,” The Observer reports. “It remains unclear what actions, if any, will be taken in order to gauge professor support for the production before this year’s co-sponsorship is either granted or denied.”
“Some theology professors were concerned about the fact that more broad internal discussions within the department did not occur on such a controversial issue.”
Some in the theology department, however, disagreed.
“I believe that the author, Eve Ensler, may have a good intention,” said associate theology professor Margaret Schatkin. “The indecorous and intemperate language negates her cause, which is ostensibly to raise the position of women. This is officially the year of St. Paul in the Catholic Church, and the Apostle teaches us a lot about avoiding foul language.”
“From the title on, the play does not meet apostolic standards of Christian discourse,” continued Schatkin. “It also does not meet basic standards of literary quality. While admittedly there is great injustice around the world against women, e.g., human trafficking, such exploitation is not to be trivialized but should be made the subject of a serious dramatic work, which would not rely on vulgarity to get its message across.”
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