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Monologues can still be useful tool

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, February 7, 2006

The “Vagina Monologues” is scandalous to the faithful and non-faithful alike for many reasons. On the surface, the name is vulgar and evokes an image unbecoming of any university. Some of its skits glorify rape and abortions; others degrade men as a way to combat violence. These are not issues that should be glorified at any university, much less a Catholic university. In the name of “academic freedom” this production has had the privilege of being performed in the DPAC in coordination with a V-Day and fundraising for YWCA and S.O.S. Banning the “Vagina Monologues” from public, university or department-sponsored performance does not hinder academic freedom at all. If anything, the inquiries that the play raises would be more conducive to a classroom setting, where more people would actually be able to voice their opinions about the contents of the play. True academic endeavors should aim to find the truth, not play off the emotions of students.

What I suggest is an effort by students and the administration and faculty alike to try to find another means to combat the issues of violence against women. It is ludicrous to think that the only way to raise awareness about violence against women is with a crude performance. The Edith Stein Project is one way through which students are addressing the issues that need to be brought forward in light of Catholic teaching. Many colleges have taken up the “Take Back the Night” campaign, which looks at the issues of violence against women in the local neighborhoods, and visually makes a statement by a night march in many cities. There could also be fundraising for the local YWCA outside of context of the Vagina Monologues in the same way other organizations and clubs raise money on campus.

The “Queer Film Festival” is also an area of contention with the Church’s sexual ethics. Films that glorify homosexuality and festivals that host speakers that only support homosexual lifestyles without reservations are in direct contrast with the Catholic Church, and therefore the University of Notre Dame, which is an institution under the Church. However, I do not believe that the “Queer Film Festival” should be abolished. To be honest, I am not sure how to precisely make the film festival conform to the teachings of the Church. While using films, it could be possible to look at the difficulties that homosexuals have in society. The films could also be used to look at stylistic aspects of film in general – all in line with Catholic teaching. While advocates of homosexuality could present their side, the issues should remain largely in conformity to the Church. Homosexuals deserve to be treated with dignity, but that does not mean that their sexual preferences need to be glorified. Sexuality is a broad and complicated topic, but it is not something that needs to be flaunted around like a banner over each person’s head crying out “I am gay” or “I am straight.” The issues addressed by both the “Vagina Monologues” and the “Queer Film Festival” obviously need to be addressed; they can be addressed, though, in different ways and by different means that acquiesce to the Catholic identity and character of the University of Notre Dame.

Ian McDoleSecretary, ND Right to LifeFeb. 6