Reader H.M. alerts us to this odd article in Reason Online arguing that it’s OK for the femnista radicals in college women’s studies departments to stage The Vagina Monologues on hundreds of campuses year after year, but it’s not OK for anyone to protest the custom. In the words of author Kerry Howley, the latter is “censorship,” whereas the former is mere “gleeful gratuitous vulgarity.”
Now, I’m generally a fan of Reason magazine and its cheeky libertarian approach to economic and political issues. But I don’t understand Reason’s attack on IWF board member Christina Hoff Sommers (Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys), who’s been one of the few people willing to say out loud that vagina-touting dramaturge-empress Eve Ensler is wearing no clothes (and not just over her you-know-what, either). When Christina pointed out in a recent speech that Ensler’s line “My vagina is a shell, a tulip, and a destiny” is not exactly Shakespearean in literary quality, what oft was thought was ne’er so well expressed. Even Reason writer Howley agrees that “The Vagina Monologues” is one lousy play; it’s “horrendous theater,” he or she writes.
What Howley objects to is Christina’s observation–which strikes me as perfectly accurate–that all these “Vagina” stagings are part of a rad-fem program of indoctrinating young college women that men are the Enemy and that such traditional values as modesty and chastity ought to be pitched overboard. Howley writes:
“At the close of Sommers’ dire warning about Ensler’s play, a concerned mother had a question: ‘Where can I send my child so she’s not exposed to this?’ The audience obliged with suggestions of Ensler-banning, second-rate colleges; Sommers nodded gravely. When women who call themselves feminists see censorship as the way forward, we have bigger problems than bad playwriting.”
Oh, so it’s the mark of a first-rate college that it stages a third-rate play. As for Howley’s assumption that the religiously affiliated schools that refuse to stage “Vagina” aren’t up to snuff, I suggest that he or she take a look at Naomi Schaeffer Riley’s God on the Quad, a carefully reported look at the soaring academic quality and applicant popularity of these supposedly backward institutions.
Howley also takes a potshot at me, over my opinion piece “Feminist Fatale” in last week’s Los Angeles Times:
“The urge to infantalize turns a shade darker when the focus is on women. In an L.A. Times opinion piece last Sunday, Charlotte Allen theorized that there are no female intellectuals worthy of following Susan Sontag. Every one, it seems, has been swallowed by the excesses of feminism. This is the frustrating irony of conservative feminism: As the movement rightly condemns modern feminism for being a paralyzing ideology of victimization, it leaves a bloody trail of victimhood in its wake.”
I don’t understand what “the urge to infantalize” and “a bloody trail of victimhood” have to do with my article, which merely pointed out that many women, given enough feminist-ideological rope, have hanged themselves. I urged no form of censorship–although frankly, I don’t see what’s wrong with upholding public standards of decency and good taste. One of our InkWell readers informed us that Uganda has just banned “The Vagina Monologues,” and I say: Yay for Uganda! Here in the U.S. we have the spectacle of hundreds of college campuses staging “The Vagina Monologues” once per year and Shakespeare and Sophocles zero times per year.
Howley does make one valid point: That most college students are smarter than the feministas give them credit for being and pay little attention to the annual revving up of the Ensler propaganda machine. But that’s no reason to condemn Christina and me for pointing out that the propaganda machine is still grinding its wheels.