V-Day Statement in Response to the Cardinal Newman Society's Attempt to Ban V-Day Benefit Productions of "The Vagina Monologues"
As another V-Day season comes to a close, over 1000 cities and universities have successfully presented V-Day 2003 benefit productions of "The Vagina Monologues." Local organizers have raised money and awareness for thousands of groups within their individual communities that work daily to end violence against women and girls. At this time of year when V-Day can claim numerous victories over violence, it seems important to dispel the myths that the seemingly fringe Catholic group, the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), has put forth in their efforts to ban V-Day benefit productions at Catholic Colleges and Universities.
Cardinal Newman Society successfully stopped V-Day benefits from taking place at Catholic schools.
All but one of the V-Day events that the CNS attempted to ban actually took place. In response to news of efforts to ban these benefit productions, many community members offered off-site space to support the V-Day organizers who were being censored.
In fact, in most cases, attempts to ban the productions created a healthy public and media debate within the community about free speech, the problem of violence against women and the need to address it, and also raised questions about the true goals of the CNS, which attempted to stop students from doing good works and pressured University administrators and their alumni toward censorship.
At Xavier University in Ohio, the attempted ban led to on-campus rallies and news coverage in the major daily newspapers and on radio and TV stations. In an article in the Cincinnati Post with the headline, "Play rallies campus on academic freedom," the reporter noted, "By Friday, however, the so-called 'V-Day' project also had clearly become about censorship and student freedoms. 'What started as my idea to bring '"The Vagina Monologues" to campus has ended up being something that has united students and faculty alike,' said the play's director, a Xavier junior, Chris Sims." The faculty declared their overwhelming support of the student-run V-Day production. To read the full article, go to:
CNS describes "The Vagina Monologues" as a "vulgar play", "complete with a favorable reminiscence about a lesbian seduction of a 16-year-old girl" and "explicit discussions of sexuality and sexual encounters including lesbian activity and masturbation."
The monologue referred to reflects the real-life experience of a real woman who was interviewed by Eve Ensler. The monologue accurately reports the woman's experience.
The pieces in "The Vagina Monologues" are all reflections of real women's experiences. Some of the stories are not politically correct, but they are all real. It is important to allow all of the voices of women to be heard, regardless of how we personally feel about their experiences, as violence against women happens everywhere affecting one in three women worldwide.
"The Vagina Monologues" has been successful as a play in part because it inspires reflection and thought among audience members, and dialogue among people who have seen the play.
V-Day envisions and is working to create a world in which violence against women and girls no longer exists. V-Day hopes that the devastating and true stories that are the foundation of "The Vagina Monologues" will inspire people who see productions of the play to help V-Day create V-World and stop all violence against women and girls.
"The play is a collection of monologues by women describing their personal stories, replete with vulgarity, frequent use of 'vagina' to represent women and femininity.
What else would the vagina possibly represent but women and femininity?
The success of "The Vagina Monologues" has been in its very use of the word "vagina". No one before Eve Ensler has had the confidence to do the obvious - marry the word with women's actual stories, their realities. V-Day and "The Vagina Monologues" celebrate the vagina and work to empower women, freeing them from the shame that is often associated with violence.
(Of course, it is always essential to read or see a play before commenting on its content. It is important to note that performances of "The Vagina Monologues" do not "show" anything in the literal sense - it is a fact-based series of monologues, spoken or read by the performers.)
CNS calls the V-Day College Campaign "a marketing ploy."
The V-Day College Campaign is anything but a marketing ploy. It is a simple but powerful program to raise awareness and funds to stop violence against women and girls primarily through the efforts of college-age people – the leaders, shapers and messengers of the future. The College Campaign is such an excellent example of a successful, global, grassroots campaign incorporating the unique and effective combination of art and activism that it has been highlighted in the international media and has been the subject of academic presentations and papers, including a case study by the Harvard Business School.
V-Day originated out of Eve Ensler's conversations with women who approached her after early performances of the play to tell her of their own experiences of violence. She began to use performances of the play to raise funds for organizations working to stop violence, ultimately forming V-Day as a global movement to end violence against women and girls.
Through the V-Day College Campaign, which launched in 1999, thousands of student organizers have raised funds for local groups on their campuses and within their communities.
To date, V-Day has raised over $20 million dollars for local community groups who do anti-violence work on the ground every day. Along the way, millions of people have been empowered and educated and have become active in the fight to end violence against women and girls.