Kavita Kumar of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about a Catholic college’s decision to not stage a production of “The Vagina Monologues” on campus. Her story claimed that officials at St. Louis University canceled the controversial play for various reasons:
Campus administrators refused to sponsor the play last year, after several years of sponsorship, because they said that doing the same play year after year is redundant and didn’t add much new.
SLU leaders said their decision was not censorship, but students suspect that is just what it is.
Conservative watchdog groups and others have protested at SLU and other Catholic campuses where the “Monologues” is performed because they say the play, with its frank discussion of female sexuality and homosexuality, is inappropriate.
Kumar’s explanation cannot be dismissed out of hand. Why campus administrators pulled the plug is almost unknowable.
But let’s call a spade a spade. Kumar’s story is biased. The play’s opponents come across as censorious and closed-minded. Now maybe they are, but Kumar provided no evidence for this implication.
“Conservative watchdog groups and others” have said, repeatedly, that they object to the play not for its frankness but rather its morality. For example, the president of Providence College criticized a scene in the play in which a teenage woman is raped or forcibly seduced by an older woman. Kumar should have noted this objection.
In addition, critics have objected to description of the play as a “new bible” for women. As you might imagine, traditional Catholics take issue with any sort of new bible, not just this one.
Perhaps Kumar wrote the story under tight deadline pressure. But it’s too bad that she adopted a superficial understanding of the dispute between Catholic colleges and the play. There is a real story about how traditional Catholics and the play’s secular writers view female sexuality. But getting it requires a reporter to engage in a colloquy not a monologue.