A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, January 29, 2006

No V-Monologues at Providence College---Thank God

This is how it ought to be.

Catholic News Service: College cancels 'Vagina Monologues' play---

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) – Providence College will not be presenting the play "The Vagina Monologues" this year, according to an announcement made by Dominican Father Brian Shanley, president of the college.

The priest said the play, performed on several hundred college campuses around the country in mid-February, is not appropriate for a Catholic college campus "because its depiction of female sexuality is so deeply at odds with the true meaning and morality" of church teaching.
"To prepare a response, I have carefully read and studied the play. I have met with some of the student leaders of Women's Will, the main sponsoring group, to listen to their perspective and share some of my concerns. I have pondered their position, discussed the matter with many people, educated myself about what other Catholic schools have done and prayed to God for guidance," he wrote.

The priest disputed some of the play's claims, written on the back cover of his paperback edition, that the play is a "celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery" and has been "hailed as a bible for a new generation of women."

Father Shanley said the play "simplifies and demystifies" female sexuality by neglecting its "unitive and procreative dimensions."

"To explore fully the dignity of woman requires not only a consideration of female sexuality, but also of the capacity of women for intellectual, artistic, moral and spiritual activity; none of these dimensions are featured in 'The Vagina Monologues,'" he added.

He also found fault with the description of the play as a "new bible" for today's women, saying the play and the Bible are "deeply and diametrically opposed."

The college president also addressed issues of artistic and academic freedom, saying he knew he would face these questions with the play's cancellation.

"Artistic freedom on a Catholic campus cannot mean the complete license to perform or display any work of art regardless of its intellectual or moral content," he said, adding that "any institution which sanctioned works of art that undermined its deepest values would be inauthentic, irresponsible and ultimately self-destructive."

Likewise, he said the true meaning of academic freedom "is not the license to hold any view that one chooses" but is "always governed by truth."

"Prohibiting a theatrical production of 'The Vagina Monologues' does not prohibit free inquiry about the play," he said, adding that students are "free to read, study and discuss the play in various settings, especially the classroom."