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Monologues’ a reflection of society

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 2, 2006

I’m concerned that University President Father John Jenkins isn’t truly listening. I was disappointed at last week’s forum when, after taking 45 minutes to present his side, Father Jenkins attempted to refute the concerns of the students rather than simply listening and considering them.

We, as students, treasure the chance to encourage Father Jenkins to consider our perspectives. This is exactly what “The Vagina Monologues” strives to do.

Anyone who watches the play must understand that the “Monologues” don’t necessarily represent the beliefs of the author or the students performing them – just as the University does not necessarily endorse the events it sponsors.

Eve Ensler simply provides a forum for the liberating the long-suppressed voices of women and an opportunity for actors and audience to consider these foreign perspectives.

The actors hold notecards, symbolizing that the stories they tell are other womens’ stories. They speak directly or indirectly about vaginas because they are attempting to reclaim the part of their anatomy that has been a justification and a means for sexual, physical, emotional and psychological abuse – not to make themselves sexual objects.

Some of these stories are meant to shock us into critical analysis. Many contest the Monologue that describes the seduction of a 16-year old girl by an older woman. Its purpose is not to laud the experience, but to ask us to consider what kind of society we have created when such an appalling scenario is a woman’s only positive sexual experience as a female.

Silencing the voices of these women is not the answer. The purpose of the movement is to acknowledge these voices.

Refusing to listen is refusing to acknowledge pain and suffering and refusing to consider the systemic problems in our society that cause and perpetuate them. What good do we accomplish by silencing ideas that contradict Catholic teaching, except to promote blind faith and blindness to injustice?

Rather, we should critically engage with the Monologues, exploring how they contradict Catholic teachings as well as why they are important as a means of liberating female voices and conceptualizing structural subordination of women. This would truly be respectful dialogue.

Jackie ClarkseniorWelsh Family HallFeb. 1