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Monologues’ promote non-violence

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that this response to Christina Holmstrom’s letter regarding “The Vagina Monologues” (“‘Monologues’ encourage mistreatment of women,” Feb. 10) is not necessarily a refutation of her ideas, but an expression of an alternate perspective regarding Eve Ensler’s play.

Holmstrom references the V-Day slogan and agrees that “violence against women should be stopped.” “The Vagina Monologues” initiate conversation every year about methods in achieving this exact goal. In contributing her valuable opinion about how best to stop violence against women, Holmstrom has begun this process at Notre Dame this year, and the tentative upcoming production of the play will initiate even more conversation.

In its portrayal of real women’s experiences, “The Vagina Monologues” document the significance of sexuality as a part of womanhood. The women who speak of their positive sexual experiences in the play are examples of women as sexual beings, not sexual objects, as Holmstrom suggests. “The Vagina Monologues” do not condone the perception of women as sexual objects. Monologues such as “My Vagina Was My Village,” in which a number of Bosnian women recount their stories regarding rape as a war tactic, and “Crooked Braid,” an account of the prominence of domestic abuse in Native American communities, clearly discourage the perspective of women as simply “walking vaginas.” I am unable to see how these monologues encourage women to “treat themselves as sex objects.”

As a two-time audience member, I know that Notre Dame’s productions of “The Vagina Monologues” conclude each year with the monologue entitled “I Was There In The Room,” an account of Eve Ensler’s emotional experience in watching her daughter-in-law give birth. The beauty of this marital moment is a facet of sexuality that every Catholic can embrace.

“The Vagina Monologues” value all women’s sexuality and allow each audience member to decide what is best for herself. The play does not encourage sex, but discourages violence against women, no matter how sexually active they are. These accounts are relevant to every woman and man, regardless of her or his religious beliefs. As a worldwide community, we should be concerned with every woman’s experience with sexual violence, not just those who practice Catholicism. I hope all those who participate in this discussion have had the fortune of seeing “The Vagina Monologues,” and that those who have not will attend a production on Notre Dame’s campus, if it is approved to take place, at the end of March.

Rob O’Brien


Sorin College

Feb. 11