In its recent issue, the student publication The Irish Rover confirmed other reports that a student group has begun preparations for another staging of “The Vagina Monologues.” As we note on the Project Sycamore website, Father Jenkins has stated that, if this issue arises again, it will be reviewed again. Therefore, we urge everyone who is opposed to University support of this play and who has not signed the Project Sycamore petition to do so promptly.
We have examined the controversy over “The Vagina Monologues” thoroughly on the website, noting that it has little to do with violence to women but consists largely of extraordinarily graphic accounts of lesbian and homosexual intercourse, lesbian masturbation, seduction of young girls, sadomasochism, and the like. While its performance is an annual rite at countless secular colleges and universities, it is hosted by only a handful of Catholic institutions. (St. Johns University has just joined the ranks of those barring the play.)
There is a special reason for Father Jenkins to withhold approval this year. You will recall that last year, after strenuous faculty protest over his declaration that he thought the play probably ought not be approved, Father Jenkins changed his mind and permitted it. At the same time, he endorsed a different approach for this year. He noted that “[t]he student leaders of ‘The Vagina Monologues'” had proposed “a play written in their own voices and describing their own experiences entitled ‘Loyal Daughters'” which, he said, “I will do all I can to support.”
With University funding and faculty support, that play was in fact produced earlier this year. We will report on it in our first newsletter, which you will receive shortly. In brief, the play includes accounts of illicit consensual sex so objectionable that Father Jenkins turned down the students’ request that he lend his name as sponsor. Nevertheless, the committee overseeing this work did promote the play, with one member resigning in protest and an undisclosed number dissenting.
While it is arguable in these circumstances whether “Loyal Daughters” was an improvement on “The Vagina Monologues,” at least its production ought to remove any doubt about whether yet another public University-sponsored staging of “The Vagina Monologues” is appropriate. Plainly, Father Jenkins hoped that a student production would displace “The Vagina Monologues.” Having allowed great — we think undue — license respecting the Monologues, he had every right to anticipate some degree of restraint in return. And so did everyone else. But now, if the students can once again enlist a department as sponsor, there is, sadly, the prospect of two, rather than one, campus productions colliding with fundamental Catholic doctrine and values respecting sexual morality.
If you agree with us that after six years it is time to put a stop to the public production of “The Vagina Monologues” on the Notre Dame campus, please sign the petition and forward this message to all you think may share your views.
Project Sycamore Steering Committee
Richard V. Allen (’57, ’58)
Dr. Daniel M. Boland (’56, ’61)
Timothy M. Dempsey (’89)
William H. Dempsey (’52)
Dr. John A. Gueguen, Jr. (’56, ’58)
George L. Heidkamp (’52)
Amelia Elizabeth Marcum (’04)
Joseph A. Reich, Jr. (’57)
Dr. Susan Biddle Shearer (’88)