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Performance art not doctrine

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 2, 2006

“The Vagina Monologues'” sexual content is at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. I, an ardent supporter of “The Vagina Monologues,” will freely admit this fact. However, when did the administration of the University of Notre Dame and the administrations of Catholic colleges around the country forget that “The Vagina Monologues” is a performance art piece? Part of the role of all types of art is to evoke an emotional response from the viewer. Eve Ensler, the author of the “Monologues,” chose to create a performance art piece based on over two hundred interviews about the sexual experiences of various women. Her final result was the dramatization of these real-life events. “The Vagina Monologues” speak about female sexuality from various backgrounds, and the views presented do not always demonstrate a perfect example of Catholic doctrine. However, this is the reality of what happens in the world.

“The Vagina Monologues” give us a brilliant piece of art that transcends all cultures and religions to spread the message that female sexuality often is an oppressive burden on women, and such violence can no longer be a veiled issue in our modern world. This overarching theme strongly speaks to us as Catholics and our quest to impart equal dignity to all people (Dominus lesus, 2000). If we do not find this theme to be a strong element in “The Vagina Monologues,” then we have the freedom to refrain from seeing the performance. However, as intelligent and inquisitive students who have experienced a great deal of moral training both in and out of the classroom, have we not earned the opportunity to recognize that the “Monologues” is not necessarily something to imitate; instead it is a lesson in the hardships faced by those whose sexuality is not respected?

There is no reason that a Catholic interpretation of “The Vagina Monologues” cannot exist. There is also no reason that such a performance should be banned for daring to bring up events that happen to women all across the world. Conservative Catholics must realize that perverse sexuality does exist, and by stifling the truth, they are breeding a generation of people who do not understand the problems of sexual violence. Father Jenkins, I implore you to trust your students to absorb the powerful message of “The Vagina Monologues” that has been illustrated through the intense discussions and the support shown for organizations that work to counsel abused women. Giving the student body the freedom to interpret this performance art piece will be the strongest measure of your trust in Notre Dame students to challenge and form sound Catholic characters.

Gretchen Chrisztsenioroff-campusFeb. 1