Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What I Saw Upon Reading The Vagina Monologues.

[a repost, sorry for all the reposting lately, just been super busy preparing a retreat for a confirmation group this coming weekend]

With the approach of Valentine’s Day, I finally got the nerve to see what all the fuss has been about on Catholic campuses due to the infamous The Vagina Monologues. Now I know.

I do not wish to discuss whether or not the play should be allowed on college campuses; ultimately, that is not my decision. But I can’t help to comment that there have been many things done in the name of academic freedom, some of which have been important to the advancements in the academic world, while others have not been so important. What I will share are my observations on the book.

Eve Ensler, in her introduction, makes it explicitly known to the reader that her goal is to end violence against women – a noble and important cause that all people should strive to accomplish, but not just towards women. The ultimate goal for all peoples is to end undue violence against the innocent of all genders, races, and creeds. With all the words Eve spends discussing violence against women and what the V-Day movement has accomplished over the last nine year, one might suspect that the majority of monologues to deal with such subject mater. If this had been the case, her book would have driven the point home hard. Instead, the contrary was true. For every one story about a women being abused there were ten others on women’s sexual exploration or sexual education/liberation.

What does Eve mean by sexual education or liberation? In the context of the monologues this turns not into a discovery of the human person, but translates into women learning how to masturbate, women learning how to achieve an orgasm, women having sexual escapades with not only men but also women. Women seem to learn less about who they are as persons and more about how to pleasure themselves. It is no wonder that Catholic campuses across the nation have protests about production of this play. One can’t help but wonder if Eve is promoting such interests or just merely presenting issues from various females’ lives.

However, what bothers me the most about Eve’s book is not so much the content but how the female human person is presented to the reader. By trying to lift women up she manages only to tear them down and fall into the exact thing she is trying to avoid. Her view of the female person is dismal at best. Ask what is woman and undoubtedly she would reply “vagina.” In other words, she reduces women from being a glorious being, a person with feelings, thoughts, ideas, dreams, and emotions to a vagina: a mere body part meant to be gratified and pleasured. Women go from beings with sexuality to mere sexual beings rooted not in love for the human person but in mere sex. As if the part is not so much greater then the whole, but the part is the whole.

There are other groups who reduce women to nothing more than a vagina. The first group is called pimps. The other group is the stereotypical male who has no respect for women.

Much of Eve’s writings might seem radical to the literary world, but she talks about vaginas in the same light as high-school boys talk about their penises. Men for eons have been naming their genitals and asking such questions as “What would it wear?” or “What would it say?” Such behavior is often left behind in high school or shortly there after in most decent men.

Yet, Eve feels the need to engage in such antics as she provides not an open forum for discussing sexuality in a mature manner so much as she presents a sophomoric attitude towards sexuality and women that are degrading to the extent that women are reduced to mere sexual objects, nothing more than a giant, walking, pulsating, vagina.

To answer Sr. Mary Eve, who recently wrote an article defending the monologues on BustedHalo.com, as to “Why has The Vagina Monologues been protested by a vocal minority of Catholics when it has been offered on Catholic campuses?” Simply put we don’t want women lowering themselves to the level of men – specifically, sophomoric, high school, boys.

Still, the whole purpose of The Vagina Monologues seemed to be aimed at that end: women wanting to become the poorest example of men. I can’t say much about “V-day,” but my personal experiences have been very negative with down right male bashing. As if beating down men will make women greater and amend for the many years of injustice towards women. As if charging men fifty cents more for a candy bar because of the mere fact that they are of a different gender will provide reparation for the sins against women. I doubt fifty cents will heal a soul. Hold on here! Isn’t that what Eve and other feminist organizations have been saying that men have been doing to women for centuries: beating women down? Why the need for a role reversal? Why do women now feel the need to step down off the porch and wallow in the mud with the men like pigs? Men have been throwing enough feces at one another. Must women now partake also in the flinging of feces? According to Eve and the other organizations that support “V-day” it is a firm “yes.”

Also, any person with a beating heart knows that the only way to overcome and defeat the evils and injustices in the world is to respond with an even greater act of love. And so I ask Eve Ensler, “Where is the love in your book?” “Where is the love in your vagina?” “How has your book responded in love to evil?” I saw little love in the book. In fact, it was just the opposite of love I saw: it was use of the human person on a number of levels. All she produces in her book is use that is love unknown, a lazy nature of an inordinate lapsed kind, a misappropriation of urge and desire, a bent vector, a crooked word, love misspelled.

Finally, I can’t say I didn’t take away anything positive from the text. Eve is a talented writer, which makes it impossible not to take away anything. I think the real issue is not “Why have so many women been abused?” but more importantly “Why have men allowed such injustices to occur?” “Why has the world been producing such poor specimens of men who allow such abuse to happen?” “Aren’t men, traditionally, to be the protectors of women?” If the amount of women that have been abused is as great as Eve Ensler leads her reader to believe then men: We have failed our women.


Here are two links to some other views on the "Monologues."
"Monologues" not what we need. By Christina Dehan
Engage in contemporary culture. By Professor Gary Anderson

Also check out The Edith Stein Project.
From the Site:
In fall of 2004, a group of undergraduate women at Notre Dame gathered to beginning planning the first conference, which was held last February, entitled “The Edith Stein Project: Redefining Feminism”. They felt strongly that this conversation needed to take place here at the University of Notre Dame, where modern culture and Catholicism intersect in a unique way.

4 comments:

aggiecatholic said...

You ought to email this post in for the next Catholic Carnival next week. Its a very good post. Also a link to your article in Gilbert mag (I think?) about abusing "freedom" would be great with this.

The Ironic Catholic said...

The Edith Stein group sounds promising.

Thanks for the even-handed commentary here. This play and the controversy around it drives me nuts. I'm glad no one has tried to make it happen on my campus...yet....

PioMagnus said...

I would like to see you post this response on Busted Halo.

This is a phenomenal, thoughtful review.

Universal Life Church said...

Would greatly appreciate the adding of one or both of our links to your webpage.

Universal Life Church http://www.ulcnetwork.com

Universal Life Church Social Network http://ulcnetwork.socialgo.com

Thank You:
~ Brother Michael

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