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Hijacking Notre Dame’s reputation

Charles Rice | Thursday, March 3, 2005

In retrospect, it is clear that the Queer Film Festival and The Vagina Monologues were not what they claimed to be. My concern is with the judgment of our leaders in permitting these events again at Notre Dame. These comments, therefore, raise no issues relating to the students involved.Liam Dacey, director of the Queer Film Festival, said “The theme … was … not a promotion of [a] gay agenda.” The “gay agenda,” however, is to legitimize homosexual activity as a mainstream lifestyle. The presentation of films that support that objective at a Catholic university serves that “gay agenda.” Due to space limits, discussion of that will wait for another day.With respect to The Vagina Mono-logues, it claims to promote awareness of the problem of violence against women. The Vagina Monologues, however, is so inconsistent with that purpose that it could almost qualify as a spoof. In two ways, the play itself promotes violence against women. First, the proceeds of The Vagina Monologues went to Sex Offense Services, the rape-crisis center and to the St. Joseph County YWCA. Both entities provide information on abortion access to pregnant women. Abortion is an act of violence, in which about half of the victims who are killed are women.Second, in its content, The Vagina Monologues promotes violence against women by glorifying the depersonalization that contributes to such violence. The human person, as Pope John Paul II put it, is a “unified totality” of body and spiritual soul. The Vagina Monologues fragments that unity of the woman’s person in two ways, by personalizing a part of her body and by identifying the woman herself with that body part. Various monologues present the vagina as an entity with which the woman can, and should, establish a “conscious relationship.” I spare the reader the abundant details (believe it – you should thank me). The monologues include such literary gems as, “If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?” and “If your vagina could talk, what would it say, in two words?” One monologue recounts a group masturbation in a workshop run by “a woman who believes in vaginas.” This introduces the Notre Dame community to the concept of organolatry, the deification of a body part. The decisive moment in that monologue came when the workshop participant thought, “I didn’t have to find it. I had to be it. Be it. Be my clitoris. Be my clitoris. … My vagina, my vagina, me.” There, the person is reduced to, and equated to, her body part. This fragmentation and objectification of the person facilitates violence against women. The Vagina Monologues includes a monologue, “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could,” a detailed recounting of the lesbian seduction of a 16-year-old by a 24-year-old. This seduction is described by the victim as “my … salvation.” This monologue is abominable in a “Catholic” university in light of the sex abuse crisis in the American Church. The great majority of such cases involve seduction of a teen-aged boy by a homosexual priest, the mirror image of the lesbian seduction portrayed as a “salvation” for the victim in the monologue.Another monologue consists of the repeated utterance of a four-letter expletive used to describe a body part. Other monologues, I guarantee, are better left unmentioned. The intellectual content of the text would suffer by comparison with the transcript of a town meeting of “Idiot Village.” Maybe you have to be a politically correct academics or administrator to take such material seriously.”Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” the Apostolic Constitution on the Catholic University, lists, as one of the “essential characteristics” of the Catholic university: “Fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church.” As Bishop John D’Arcy said in his statement, “Ex Corde” guarantees academic freedom within the parameters of “truth and the common good.” Bishop D’Arcy concluded that The Vagina Monologues violate not only the common good but also “the truth about women; the truth about sexuality; the truth about male and female; and the truth about the human body.”Notre Dame is subservient to the NCAA, accrediting agencies and many other entities. The one entity it will not obey is the Catholic Church, not even to the limited extent required by “Ex Corde.” The University’s concept of academic freedom is no different from that at Michigan State, Stanford, etc. In short, Notre Dame’s claim to be Catholic violates the principle of truth-in-labeling.The effect of the Queer Film Festival and The Vagina Monologues was to hijack the reputation of Notre Dame in support of an agenda at war with the Catholic Church. Our leaders who permitted this repeated exploitation of Notre Dame ought to be more than embarrassed. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Professor Emeritus Rice is on the Law School Faculty. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be contacted at [email protected] views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.