Tuesday, February 14, 2012

bring back the vaginas

As a caller in the Development Phone Center, I hear a lot of reasons/excuses/whatever you want to call them as to why people will not donate to the University. I would have to say, however, that one I heard during my most recent shift is rather unique. I was calling a relatively young graduate to talk about one of our giving societies, and she immediately told me that she would not give until Notre Dame reinstated Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. I told her about Loyal Daughters and Sons before she stated that the two are nothing alike and that she just was not going to give unless we brought back The Vagina Monologues. I told her that I would forward her complaint, but I knew immediately that we lost her as a donor. I highly doubt that The Vagina Monologues are coming back to Notre Dame. This response came to me instantly, but I had to take a moment to think, “Why?”
I am familiar with The Vagina Monologues in text, as I read the book and wrote a paper about it senior year of high school. However, I have never seen the show. I do know, however, that its showing has a controversial history. In fact, when The Vagina Monologues first came out as a play, advertisements, tickets, and venues simply referred to it as “Monologues” or “V. Monologues” (Ensler xli). They did not want to mention the word “vagina” in public because of the controversy it could invoke. On the contrary, Ensler states, “‘Vagina’ is not a pornographic word; it’s actually a medical word, a term for a body part, like ‘elbow,’ ‘hand,’ or ‘rib’” (Ensler xlii). It is the culture that has deemed this word as “unfit” for conversation. However, if women cannot openly discuss an essential root of their womanhood, it is hard for them to feel completely welcome in society. If a woman thinks about vaginas or desires to speak about them, she may feel dirty or improper. Dialogue is crucial when defining oneself. When a person is able to openly discuss opinions, feelings, and shared experiences, he or she is forced to articulate these thoughts and ultimately grasps a fuller sense of self. Though the performance of The Vagina Monologues allows for greater thought and communication, I can see why the University would be opposed to showing it. The monologues endorse masturbation, fornication, and giving in to female base desires—all of which the Catholic Church, and thus a Catholic University—speak out against. However, I was curious why the monologues were allowed to be seen in the first place. Here is a link to a biased reflection of a bishop’s disagreement with the showing of the Vagina monologues on campus http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8075. Though it talks about why Notre Dame should not show The Vagina Monologues, it does shed some light on why President Jenkins allowed its showing initially. I am not sure if he alone decided to stop showing it or if he faced too much pressure from donors, parents, colleagues, or what, but I nevertheless think that The Vagina Monologues is an interesting text to read and consider in light of feminine sexuality, whether or not one agrees with everything it supports.
Work Cited: Ensler, Eve. The Vagina Monologues. 10th Anniversary ed. New York: Villard, 2008.

Click here to see a monologue!

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