Justice For Women

In the Church. In the World.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

20 Colleges Remain on the CNS Protest List, PC Pres Misses the Mark

And hurrah for these twenty brave colleges.


CNS takes plenty of credit for the nine that have been removed from the list, even when no event was ever planned. But I digress.

The real GOOD news is that Catholic colleges that are not backing down are receiving community support. St Kate's event in St Paul (scheduled for this week) sold out before I could buy tickets! Saint Mary's College of California has also been added!

The BAD news, and the big story, is Providence College's president cancelling what has become an annual event at the school. It's especially dubious with a tagline like, "Transform Society, Transform Yourself." Rev Brian Shanley's statement does a swell job of towing the CNS line, and while he references the paperback version of the book, I truly wonder if he's ever even opened it. If he did, he would see that CNS's descriptions of the monologues are downright false at worse and miss the point at best. He also seems to lack the ability to comprehend metaphor (see the "new bible" remark).

But my real contention with Rev. Shanley's statment is the passage that follows: "Any depiction of female sexuality that neglects its unitive and procreative dimensions diminishes its complexity, its mystery, and its dignity." This makes me really think that he's never opened the book or seen the play that he is banning from the PC campus. Let's all think about The Vagina Monologues for a minute, and the monologues that even talk about sex . . . unitive? Check. Procreative? Check. Neither is neglected. And all this "mystery" around sexuality is what leads to unintended pregnancy, sexual abuse and violence (because there is no vocabulary for it), shame, and 70-something year old women having never experienced and orgasm. And dignity? (Warning: rant follows) What authority does the Catholic Church have to talk about what constitutes the "dignity" of women when the Church continues to refuse women's call to the priesthood and women's ability to determine if, when, and how many children they will have. It's ludicrus. And I say this as a Catholic. Seriously.

One more thing for Rev. Shanley: as much as we'd all like to believe you are truly advocating for women's "dignity" and an end to sexual and physical violence, your week long effort in April is missing one very important part of the V-Day movement - FUNDRAISING. I cannot emphasize the importance of this aspect of the V-Day movement enough. Through performances of The Vagina Monologues, local organizations which provide services to women experiencing violence receive cash donations. What Providence service provider will got without this year? Without systemic change and cash flow (both of which are lacking from Rev. Shanley's Project SAVE week proposal) violence against women will continue and there will be no place for survivors to turn.

The Vagina Monologues isn't always polite, correct, or Catholic. But neither are women's experiences, whether they attend a Catholic college or not.

Here's V-Day's response to Rev. Shanley. Much more eloquent and less rage-induced than mine.

But I don't want anyone who reads this to think that all Catholic male priest presidents of colleges are bad. Because they aren't (especially Jesuit ones). So here's a statement from Rev. Kevin Wildes of Loyola New Orleans. It's quite good.

So in short: YAY Benedictines, CSJs, and Jesuits. BOO CNS, Shanley, and anyone else who thinks censoring women is a moral action.


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