The Cardinal Newman Society has confirmed that at least 12 Catholic colleges and universities will be hosting on-campus productions of the play The Vagina Monologues in 2013. That number is up from nine last year.
Proceeds from performances at the University of San Francisco will support a group that advocates “reproductive justice” and homosexual rights. The V-Day organization reports that students at Marquette have plans for a performance benefiting Planned Parenthood.
Catholic bishops and college presidents have pointed out that The V-Monologues distorts human sexuality and celebrates sinful behaviors,including lesbian activity and masturbation. One scene even declares a lesbian rape of a teenage girl her “salvation” which raised her into “a kind of heaven.”
In 2004, the late Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend wrote in protest against the University of Notre Dame’s performance of the play:
The Vagina Monologues is offensive to women; it is antithetical to Catholic teaching on the beautiful gift of human sexuality and also to the teachings of the Church on the human body relative to its purpose and to its status as a temple of the Holy Spirit. The human body and the human person, in the tradition of the Church, must never be seen as an object.
This play violates the truth about women; the truth about sexuality; the truth about male and female, and the truth about the human body.
In 2006, Providence College President Father Brian Shanley, O.P., explained his opposition to the play:
A V-Day presentation of The Vagina Monologues is not appropriate for a school with our mission. 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.
But some on Catholic campuses disagree.
“I think the ability to pursue truth and discuss things is important,” said Nick Kaplan, contact person for the play and assistant professor of Spanish at Michigan’s Siena Heights University, where a student group is sponsoring two performances of the play.
The play is often promoted as supporting the end to violence against women, and is used as a fundraiser by many schools to support women’s shelters.
But for more than a decade, The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has opposed performances as inappropriate vehicles for fundraising, even for a worthy cause.
“The dirty dozen Catholic colleges that are hosting The V-Monologues this year are out of step with the rest of American Catholic higher education,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. “The play is vile and corrosive, with no academic value.”
CNS has monitored the internet and campus publications for evidence of Catholic colleges and universities hosting The V-Monologues since 2001.The number of campuses with performances of the play reached a high of 32 in 2003.
CNS has contacted each of the colleges and asked them to confirm whether or not the The V-Monologues are indeed taking place. In the end, CNS confirmed that 12 Catholic colleges and universities have been identified as hosting the play.
The following Catholic institutions were listed either on the website VDay.org or elsewhere online, and/or confirmed to CNS on the phone or via email as hosting The V-Monologues in 2013:
Bellarmine University has the play on both March 23 and March 24 at Hilary’s in Horrigan Hall. The calendar for the Office of Multicultural Affairs says that the performance is independently funded by the performers themselves.
“Bellarmine University does not sponsor or host the event,” said Arielle Danielle Clark,the contact for the play. “A group of students who happen to attend Bellarmine University perform the production every year. Bellarmine University does not endorse, and is not in any way connected to The Vagina Monologues. In our advertisements, our production is known as ‘The Vagina Monologues at Bellarmine University’…so that people who are interested in seeing the monologues know the location of them.”
The College of the Holy Cross’ Women’s Forum is sponsoring performances on Feb. 25 and 26 in the Hogan Campus Center Ballroom. Cristal Steuer, manager of Communications and Media Relations, confirmed that the performance is taking place.
Dominican University is hosting a student-directed production of the play on Feb. 14 in the Priory Campus Auditorium, sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies Program. Daniel Armstrong, public relations manager, confirmed the performance.
The Georgetown University website lists at least four performances between Feb. 21 and 24 presented by Georgetown University Take Back the Night.
In addition, Georgetown University Law Center also has a showing pending on Feb. 21.The Vagina Monologues funds were allocated by the Student Bar Association to the Law Students for Reproductive Justice.
Loyola University Chicago’s V-Day Club is planning performances on March 15 and 16 in the Mundelein Auditorium. The performances are being sponsored by the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership, according to Steve Christensen, communications manager.
The Saint Mary’s College of California Women’s Resource Center boasts that its Feb. 15 presentation of the play in The Soda Center is its 10th annual.
Seattle University’s Society of Feminists student group is putting on a performance of the play on March 1, 2, and 3, in the University’s Pigott Auditorium. It is the fifth time the play has been presented at Seattle University, though Stacy Howard, media relations specialist, said that it is neither “hosted or sponsored” by the university.
A sorority at Siena Heights University in Michigan is sponsoring a performance on April 19 and 20. Nick Kaplan, assistant professor of Spanish at the university, who is listed as a contact for the play, confirmed that the performances are taking place.
The University of Detroit Mercy’s Women and Gender Studies Program and Theatre Department are co-sponsoring a production on Feb. 28 in the Student Center.
University of San Francisco’s The College Players plan to perform the play, which they describe as an“annual tradition,” on April 27 and 28 in the McLaren Complex. College Players’ student Terazia Jeanne confirmed the performances would be taking place. They will benefit the Alliance for Girls, a San Francisco organization that among other things promotes "reproductive justice" and homosexual rights. The keynote speaker for the Alliance's Feb. 28 conference will be Kate Kendall of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which works to legalize same-sex "marriage." And an upcoming Alliance luncheon with the ACLU of Northern California will celebrate "reproductive justice"including "a woman's right to choose."
Anne-Marie Devine, senior director of media relations at USF, said that she could not confirm the information.
“There is talk The College Players have selected that play, but it is not set in stone,” said Devine.
Xavier University of Ohio’s student group, Students for Women’s Progress, is sponsoring a production April 5 at Xavier’s Kelley Auditorium. “University administrators are working with faculty and Xavier Students for Women's Progress to ensure that information and viewpoints from an appropriate range of different perspectives will be presented, allowing students to pursue truth, all within the context of Xavier as a Jesuit Catholic University,” said Kelly Leon,director for strategic communication. Leon said that the approval process for student-sponsored events on campus includes the requirement to schedule a follow-up discussion that includes the Catholic perspective when issues are presented that are contrary to Catholic teaching. Therefore, a faculty Q & A is being held following the play. The panel will be composed of Xavier faculty members, a priest, and a Xavier staff member who works directly with women on campus who may be victims of sexual violence.
In addition to the 12 confirmed, three additional showings were either in the planning process or being performed off-campus by a campus student group. They include:
Una – The Feminist Voice at SLU, a sanctioned student club at Saint Louis University, is sponsoring an off-campus performance on March 7 and 8.
As of publication date, the student group Empowerment at Marquette University had submitted a request to perform the play April 5 in the AMU Ballroom, but The Cardinal Newman Society was told by Andy Brodzeller, media relations specialist, that the request had not yet gone through the University’s approval process, and that it “would not be approved as submitted.” According to V-Day, the intended beneficiary is Planned Parenthood.
“As Marquette has done in the past, we will require that any production be sponsored and held by an academic program or department and not a student organization,” said Brodzeller. “This ensures any production is performed in an academic context,with appropriate discussion allowing multiple viewpoints to be heard, including the relevance of Catholic teaching to the issues raised.”
Finally, it’s not clear whether or not a performance is taking place at Loyola University New Orleans, but the V-Day website shows that someone registered for an event. Director of Public Affairs Meredith Hartley told CNS that she expected the Alpha Psi Omega national honors fraternity would be sponsoring a performance of the play again this year, as they have done in the past, but could not provide information on the dates, times, or locations of the performances. James Shields, communications coordinator, however, said that nothing is scheduled and there’s no indication the event will take place.
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