February 9, 2015 (CardinalNewmanSociety.org) — At least eight Catholic colleges and universities will be hosting performances of The Vagina Monologues or have student groups putting on the play in 2015, The Cardinal Newman Society has discovered. This year, six out of the eight Catholic higher education institutions with connections to the play are affiliated with the Jesuits.
The Monologues has been criticized by several bishops for its positive portrayal of distorted human sexuality and promotion of immoral behaviors, such as lesbian sexual activity and masturbation. Bishop John D’Arcy, the late bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, called the play “an affront to human dignity.” Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing described it as “anti-woman, reducing her God-given genius and dignity to a bizarre emphasis on one physical aspect of her person.”
In one particularly offensive Monologues scene, the molestation and rape of a teenage girl by an adult woman is described as the girl’s “salvation” which raised her into “a kind of heaven.”
The Cardinal Newman Society has monitored performances of the Monologues on Catholic campuses for several years. The number of Catholic institutions performing the Monologues was at an all-time high of 32 in 2003, but has since decreased significantly. At least eight Catholic colleges and universities are hosting or have recognized student groups that will be putting on performances of the Monologues this year.
Many of the Catholic institutions performing the Monologues this year, the majority of which are Jesuit-affiliated, justified the occasion by linking the performances with the laudable causes of supporting women’s shelters or organizations dedicated to ending violence against women. However, Bishop Boyea wrote that, while this may be the case, “this theatrical event actually embraces the dismissive outlook on women that leads to violence and exploitation of our sisters in Christ,” thereby making it an inappropriate way to fundraise at any Catholic institution.
A spokesperson for student affairs at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., confirmed to the Newman Society that the Monologues would be performed under the women and gender studies department. The student stage manager for the Monologues also told the Newman Society that the three scheduled performances would be in the Cushing 001 auditorium from February 5-7. Last year, Boston College theology professor Dr. John McDargh reportedly described the Monologues as “profoundly spiritual and a touchstone for understanding what the Christian tradition may mean when it deploys the language of ‘Grace’,” despite the demeaning nature of the play.
College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., verified two performances of the Monologues set to take place in the Hogan Ballroom from February 9-10.
DePaul University in Chicago, Ill., confirmed that the Monologues will be performed in the student center with three showings from February 13-15. The event was advertised as the 16th annual performance of the Monologues at DePaul. It is also being sponsored by the Women’s Center, the Theatre School, the DePaul Activities Board, and the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, according to the event poster.
Take Back the Night, an official student organization of Georgetown University, will present five performances of the Monologues from February 12-15, according to a University announcement. The event will be held at the Davis Performing Arts Center on campus. The Monologues is “produced, directed and performed completely by Georgetown women,” the event description states.
Loyola University Chicago will host two performances of the Monologues from February 13-14 in the Mundelein Auditorium, communication manager Megan Troppito told the Newman Society. A representative for the University’s women’s studies and gender studies program confirmed that the V-Day Club is hosting the event with sponsorship from the Student Activity Fund.
Una, a feminist student organization officially recognized by Saint Louis University, is hosting two performances of the Monologues from February 19-20 at Sheldon Concert Hall, an off-campus location one block north, according to the event page. Proceeds will reportedly support a V-Day Campaign.
The Pigott Auditorium—which serves as a performing arts center for Seattle University—confirmed to the Newman Society that March 13 has been reserved for a Monologues performance. A student Facebook page indicates that auditions took place last November and also confirms the weekend of March 13 for the performance.
A media representative of Villanova University in Villanova, Penn., confirmed to the Newman Society that the Monologues will be performed as a gender and women’s studies event on February 24 in Driscoll Auditorium. The play is being touted for “div[ing] into the mystery, humor, pain, power, wisdom, outrage and excitement buried in women’s experiences,” according to the University webpage.
Additionally, the Women’s Resource Center at Saint Mary’s College of California, which has frequently performed the Monologues, announced that it would be “taking a year off” from the Monologues “to perform a more inclusive, equally riveting piece that maintains the spirit of V-Day” on February 13 in the Soda Activity Center. The piece to be performed, A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer, is edited by Monologues author Eve Ensler and purportedly features voices of all “genders” and “sexualities,” despite Catholic teaching on human sexual identity.
Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.