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Defending ‘The Vagina Monologues’

Kerry Walsh | Sunday, February 1, 2004

I would like to respond to Professor Rice’s Jan. 28 column concerning “The Vagina Monologues” at Notre Dame.In 2002, when “The Vagina Monologues” first came to Notre Dame, Professor Rice expressed concern and distress for some of the content of the play, as he did again this week. He worried about the questionable nature of some of the monologues and what they would mean for women and for Notre Dame. And he is right to worry. As the play says, “We were worried about vaginas.””The Vagina Monologues” is not a simple play – it is incredibly complex. To attempt to cast the entire play in a single light is to miss the point it is trying to make. Professor Rice’s mistake is that he attempts to do just that – classify the entire play as an advertisement for immorality and perversion. It is true that some of the Monologues will make audience members uncomfortable. Others may cause outrage. Others may cause fear or pity, while still others will create an unwavering sense of hope. The fact is that “The Vagina Monologues” is a metaphor for women and an example of women’s diverse experiences in life. To silence even one of them, no matter how upsetting or outrageous, is to silence us all. And once we get to talking, there’s no stopping us.Professor Rice chastises the administration for its decision to allow such a play to be performed on the campus of Our Lady. I say that Our Lady would be proud. She, too, had a story to tell. Pregnant out of wedlock with only an incredible explanation for her husband-to-be, she asked that others hear her story and have faith that, although she did not fit into the mold that society expected her to, she was an important and worthy woman.Mary had a vagina. And I bet she would have something to say.Finally, I find it disturbing that Professor Rice refers to the administration’s responses to criticism as “academic banalities.” In a University as well-respected as Notre Dame, how can any academic pursuit be considered banal? Have faith, Professor Rice, that the students of Notre Dame will see the play, take it all in, and decide for themselves. I encourage everyone, even the most steadfast critics, to see the play. Explore the complexities of the stories, of the women and of their lives, and decide for yourself how you will interpret them.Congratulations to the amazing women of V-Day ND 2004. Your hard work and dedication will no doubt make this year the most fun and informative yet. Every moment you put into this work, every person you talk to about the play or about V-Day, and every time you think about your own beliefs because of this effort, you are helping to be sure that women everywhere will be able to live happier, safer lives.

Kerry Walshclass of 2002former V-Day ND organizerJan. 30