At least 10 Catholic colleges and universities will be hosting productions of The Vagina Monologues or have officially recognized student groups that are performing the play in 2014, The Cardinal Newman Society has learned. Many of the institutions with connections to the play in 2014 have reportedly hosted the play in past years, and students from at least one institution are advertising 15 years of performances.
The Monologues seriously distorts human sexuality and celebrates sinful behaviors, including lesbian activity and masturbation. One scene even declares a lesbian rape of a teenage girl her “salvation” which raised her into “a kind of heaven.” The play’s production on Catholic campuses has been criticized by several bishops.
While many Catholic institutions have not allowed the play on campus, Fr. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., the President of University of San Francisco, defended the showing of the play in a 2013 interview and seemingly compared it to a nativity play.
When asked why USF allows performances of the Monologues when other Catholic universities have banned it, Fr. Privett reportedly said: “As I tell our students, the Vagina Monologues has all the appeal of the annual grammar school Christmas pageant. It’s the same old thing year after year.”
While critics of the play have acknowledged that it is often used as a fundraiser to support women’s shelters or AIDS research, they have cited the inappropriateness of using the play as a fundraising vehicle, especially at Catholic universities.
The Newman Society has closely monitored showings of the play on Catholic campuses for several years. In 2003, the number of campuses with performances of the play reached a high of 32. The Society has discovered that at least 10 Catholic institutions are hosting or have recognized student groups performing the Monologues in 2014.
The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., confirmed to the Newman Society that the Jesuit institution will host the Monologues from February 18-19.
The Georgetown UniversityWomen’s Center in Washington, D.C., is advertising the Monologues as a “powerful performance that raises awareness about violence against women and girls.” Performances run from February 6-9. University spokesperson Rachel Pugh confirmed to the Newman Society that the performance is being sponsored by a student group called “Take Back the Night.”
DePaul University in Chicago, Ill., will be hosting the Monologues for the 15th time this year, according to a Facebook post. There will be three performances from February 14-16. On the final day of the show there will be a question and answer period with the cast about the show.
The Facebook page of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., is advertising performances of the play from March 28-29. The post states that the performance is independently sponsored by the performers, but the play will be held on campus. “Each year this dynamic play is performed at Bellarmine to raise awareness and to raise funds to end violence against women,” the post states.
The student group “Una” at Saint Louis University (Mo.) will be presenting the Monologues from February 20-21 at the Sheldon Concert Hall a block north of campus. Una is an officially recognized Saint Louis University student-led feminist organization, according to the university’s website. Tickets are free for SLU students. All proceeds reportedly benefit Karen House and the V-Day movement.
Fordham University (N.Y.) hosted auditions for the Monologues from January 22 -23 and show dates are scheduled from March 6-8, according to a Facebook event page. The listing reads: "No male actors…People who lead their lives as women are eligible to perform in this production. This includes individuals who were born with a vagina and transgendered individuals (trans men and trans women are welcome)."
Auditions for the play were held at Loyola University New Orleans (La.) on February 13 and the play will be produced in April, according to a Facebook page. The play is being produced by the student group Student Advocates for Gender Equality (SAGE). The auditions are for any who “identify as female.”
Loyola University Chicago (Ill.) spokesman Maeve Kiley told the Newman Society that the Monologues performance is being sponsored by the Fine Arts department.
Saint Mary’s College of California will be hosting the play for the 12th year in a row, according to the Women’s Resource Center’s website.“Using monologues from Eve Ensler's famous play, 'The Vagina Monologues', SMC's V-Day will bring inspiring, heartbreaking, hilarious, and eye opening stories to the stage,” states the website. The event will take place on February 14.
The Pigott Theater box office at Seattle University (Wash.) confirmed that there are currently two dates scheduled for performances of the Monologues– February 28 and March 2. The University’s Society of Feminists, a recognized student group on the Jesuit campus, has hosted the event in past years. It is the sixth time the play has been presented at Seattle University, though a university spokesman denied last year that it is “hosted or sponsored” by the university.
Santa Clara University’s website has not published a date for a performance of the Monologues in 2014, but the University has hosted the controversial play numerous times in recent years. The Wellness Center’s website states:“Be part of the V-Day (Vagina Monologues) cast for the 2013-2014 school year –contact the Women and Gender Studies Department at SCU.” Calls to the Women and Gender Studies department were not returned. There is a “Vagina Monologues” club registered for 2013-2014 student organization page on the University’s website.
One theology course offered at Santa Clara during the Winter semester titled “The Christian Tradition” even required students to read Boston College professor Cathleen Kaveny’s defense entitled “Be Not Afraid: The ‘Vagina Monologues’ on Catholic Campuses.”