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Monologues’ not only gender issue

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, February 28, 2007

While many of us on the Notre Dame campus had mixed feelings regarding the debates about the “Vagina Monologues,” academic freedom and Notre Dame’s Catholic character last year, I think it’s important not to see the “Vagina Monologues” as the only response of the campus community to the admitted difficulties of gender relations here at Notre Dame.

Personally, I find it sad that the move of the “Vagina Monologues” off campus this year made the front page of The Observer while there was no mention of the Edith Stein Project, a student-run conference that addresses difficult issues of gender (rape, abortion, etc.) in a context that seeks to integrate femininity, intelligence, and Catholic identity.

There were many big names from the ranks of the national Catholic community, women like Jennifer Roback Morse, Janet Smith and Dr. Pia de Solleni, who have successfully reconciled their identities as women with their identities as Catholics. They have managed to do so without ignoring the difficult issues that face women, and they have done so without rejecting men. If anything came out of this year’s Edith Stein Project, it is the need to see all of us, men and women, in our integrated human identity. That integrated identity is relational, and we cannot exile one sex or the other and hope to remain healthy and whole ourselves.

I found it very affirming that Edith Stein organizers included a talk on pornography given by two male undergraduates, Jack Calcutt and Patrick Tighe, who bravely explored the difficult issues of male sexual transgression here on campus but did so in a way that invited dialogue and mutual vulnerability between men and women. Isn’t this what we’re all trying to do on campus?

Similarly, in this year’s production of “Loyal Daughters” there were segments that explored male-on-male sexual assault, and female-on-male alcohol-induced rape. Gender relations on this campus will never improve until we all, male and female, start admitting our own sins toward each other and work for healing, forgiveness and change in Christian charity.

Sam Cahill

grad student

off campus

Feb. 27