The end of the women’s rights movement at BC
To whom this may concern:
I write primarily as a response to the ‘cartoon’ entitled “The end of the women’s rights movement at BC”. Many of my peers and I were appalled by the crude and explicit rendering of an actual member of our cast. While I acknowledge that the publication of that picture falls within the realm of freedom of speech, I think the Boston College community deserves more from a newspaper that claims to exist solely for “the greater glory of God”.
It is nothing more than hypocritical to condemn a theatrical work for being explicit and respond to it by producing something even more explicit. This drawing demonstrates exactly why women on this campus need a healthy, non-judgmental forum for expressing and judging sexuality: currently, to talk openly about sexuality on this campus is to be objectified as a half-naked piece of meat. We do this play to change the existing paradigm.
Secondly, I contest Mr. Bindernagel’s assertion that BC’s production of The Vagina Monologues leaves the audience “with no opportunity for meaningful debate”. If Mr. Bindernagel, any member of the Observer staff, or, quite frankly, anyone who finds aspects of the play problematic had actually attended any of the four post-play forums for discussion led by eight different faculty members, they might have seen that this campus does not unilaterally accept this play as gospel. They might even have observed a group of men—the friends, boyfriends, classmates, mentors and professors of cast members and audience members alike—speaking frankly about issues of masculinity related to the play in the Gate on Monday evening.
As a student who is not only engaging with this piece as a director and performer, but also writing a senior English thesis investigating the relationship between form and meaning in the play and the lived interviews that inspired it, I deeply resent your statement that “those behind the performance have no intention of academically posing questions and seeking answers”. I see problematic aspects of the play in a new light every year as a result of these panel discussions and talk-backs. It is possible to engage with the play in a critical lens—this should be obvious to anyone who has done a merely perfunctory scan of academic articles published on the play.
I would hope that the editorial staff takes into account Mr. Bindernagel’s own statement that “speech which presupposes answers or actively works against certain answers from being voiced has no place in academia”. Actively resisting the opportunities for discussion of this play that already exist on campus—not to mention continually condemning the very presentation of the material itself—is really what set Plato’s Academy ablaze.
Maggie Carr ‘10
Executive Director of The Vagina Monologues, 2010
Game, Set, Owned.
Besides being incredibly offensive, this piece illustrates The Observer’s completely misconstrued understanding of what the Women’s Rights movement is. I’m even confused as to what this is trying to say, that there is fault in loving one’s vagina? What does “Just say no!” refer to; consent?
However, I would like to see how The Observer staff would draw the Feminism it approves of. This cartoon implies that it would be a polite and quiet woman, without an opinion to voice. That hardly seems like a step forward to me.
The Observer should be embarrassed. I am appalled.
Can the artist of this cartoon imagine for a moment drawing his/her sister, best friend or girl friend in this way? Because that is EXACTLY what you just did. The character you drew is a real person and to be forced to view oneself in this light is beyond hurtful. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
I would like to let you know the disgust I felt when I saw the way I was depicted in your newspaper. This is a humiliating representation of ALL women.
Right on, Kyra! When will we not be afraid to see women as strong, thriving individuals?
And really, I still can’t believe people view Feminism as the movement pitting the downfall of men.
It’s about equality! Do your homework first, please!
The female staff at The Observer outnumber the male staff. To make a claim that The Observer would support the idea of a woman without a voice is simply ridiculous.
Well then where were these women when their newspaper was publishing a cartoon which is both offensive and absurd, but also undermines the legitimacy of their beloved “news source”? Clearly their voice is not strong enough; mocking issues like rape and consent, and female body image.
This cartoon is absolutely humiliating, for both the Observer but also for the entire Boston College community. The fact that there are even students on this campus who have the audacity to publish such a thing makes me question this institution. Both the men and the women at the Observer should be ashamed of themselves.
I see that you represent and speak for the “majority” of members on the Observer staff. Your brief comment above says it all and is the reason that the dialog produced by the Vagina Monologues is so important and successful. This is the reason that the VM sells out for each and every performance, the audience filled with males and females, young and old, black and white, and those of all faiths.
As a male, I found that the Vagina Monologues opened to me information about world experiences, past and present, I would never have read in The Observer. What is The Observer’s target audience? I suspect you can answer that for the staff also.
You are mistaken, I do not speak for any member of the staff or represent anyone other than myself. I fail to see how my “brief comment” speaks to the importance or success of the Vagina Monologues.
I cannot speak for the women of The Observer however I can say that your derogatory comments regarding their “voice” as members of this staff is as offensive as the picture itself. The women on this staff have a voice and they do not need you to judge how important they are.
Just because the number of female staff outnumbers the number of male staff on your publication, does not give this drawing any legitimacy. Please do not try to support this piece of work with that excuse. You are entitled to your opinions, and there is no doubt about what the opinion of this “artist” is.
As an alum, this is apalling, not because of the drawing itself, but the message that it sends to the audience at large. I went to the performaces during all four years at BC. The Vagina Monologues is to bring to the surface issues that are hidden and swept under the rug – rape, sexual assault, shame, etc. It is because of people like this artist that The V-Mons are even more necessary – to show to everyone the narrowmindedness of some. Because I would not want the words / actions of a few to speak for me, I do not want this drawing to represent the Boston College community that I loved and felt respected in. But believe me, this does speak for the BC community and the much criticized and scrutinized Catholic nature of it, and it shouldn’t.
People everywhere play the “penis” game, in which the louder you shout the word shows that you have the most “balls,” while if you wimp out on something, you are called a “vagina” or even worse forms of the word. What does that show us about our community? That is why the V-Mons exists – to make the idea and symbolism behind the word not of shame but to own it. If this drawing is a depiction of what YOU gathered from the production, it seems as though you must have been watching a different production than the other people in the room.
Did you attend the performance?
Also, for people so opposed to VM, take a look at this video– part of the VDay movement. http://drc.vday.org/paintopower
At BC we are men and women for others, after understanding where proceeds of the performance are headed, I hope you understand why some women on this campus find it so difficult and offensive to see such a crude cartoon about a Boston College woman.
We are also not stomping on men, bring on the Penis Monologues!
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)
At what point do I ever use that excuse to support the cartoon? I simply mentioned our female staff members to refute the claim that The Observer would support the idea of a woman without a voice. As an alum, I find it ridiculous that you would try to twist point I made and attempt to give it a new meaning.
Anonymous? Really? Now there’s some journalistic integrity!
Kyra and Maggie,
Relax. After performing in the Vagina Monologues for several years, I’m sure you know that it is quite controversial. Some believe the performance is necessary to bring up key issues, while others believe that the sometimes vulgar messages have no place at a Catholic university or in pleasant company. Kind-hearted, reasonable people can come to different conclusions – it happens all the time.
If anything, one would think you’d be glad that The Observer gave coverage to your performances, as your goal is to raise awareness of women’s issues, correct? If the cartoon and article were in such poor taste (and I don’t disagree with you there), then it should prompt those that read it to come around to your points by agreeing that women’s issues are downplayed and need to be talked about in an academic setting.
In short, if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. You chose to be a part of the performance. One would assume that you both have pretty thick skins given your ability to stand in front of a packed house and talk about such taboo issues. It’s surprising that this cartoon and article got to you to the point that you were so enraged and disgusted.
I agree with you in that certain women’s issues need more airtime, but can also empathize with the concerns of your critics. That’s the beauty of the Vagina Monologues – whether or not you see the show it inspires discomfort, conversation, and more awareness of women’s issues. Good luck in spreading your message.
Kyra and Maggie are very much “handling the heat”, with dignity. They are responding to a distasteful and offensive cartoon. They have a right to be enraged and disgusted, and their “thick skins” are exactly the reason they are able to defend themselves in a respectful and intelligent manner. I, for one, would be surprised if they didn’t say anything about the piece. Telling them to “relax” is condescending and unnecessary.
This cartoon is hilarious; don’t lie to yourself.
Again you speak much with few words. You and many others do “ fail to see “. This is one problem with the world today. Though, I do thank you for admitting that the picture is “offensive” to women and that you won’t be “speak[ing] for the women of The Observer” in the future. Maybe there is a glimmer of hope out there.
The artist’s hiding behind a screen of anonymity only proves how worthless this cartoon actually is. If you have strong enough feelings to publish such a crude drawing- own it. Additionally, the drawing itself makes little sense. The Vagina Monologues have nothing to do with hating men, they have to do with loving women. Is that really so wrong?
At what point do I say that the picture is offensive? All I said was that I do not speak for any other member of the staff. I don’t wish to put words into anyone’s mouth, something you don’t seem to have a problem with seeing as you’ve put words into my mouth. The only things I find offensive is the way people have treated the women of The Observer. People who believe that they do not have a voice are sorely mistaken.
This cartoon is just appalling, and frankly, poorly thought out. Whoever suggested that the Vagina Monologues propagate an ‘anti-men’ message is just delusional, and I doubt that he or she has ever actually seen the Vagina Monologues. The monologues are honest, sometimes brutally so, but they celebrate the female body in a world where it is often forced into repression and shame. And who can ever argue against self-acceptance? Making a mockery of loving one’s body is just pathetic, and frankly, I feel badly for the creator of this cartoon. You’d prefer to live in a world where people are ashamed of their bodies? Have fun with that, Anonymous.
It’s very clear, as you keep restating, that you are not speaking for the women of The Observer. If what you’re taking away from every, single comment on the drawing, is that we are attacking the women and other memebers of your staff, then it clearly is not getting through to you. I think it’s pretty clear, as you, a male, are one of the only people of the staff apparently responding, that you are NOT speaking for the women of The Observer because I have yet to read a response from the women. It would be interesting to hear from a woman who feels like this drawing is not offensive in the least. Allie also makes a good point that just because you are in the V-Mons or support it does not automatically mean you hate men or dislike men. Is that what this drawing is indicating? That if you love your vagina and can own your womanhood that you are automatically thought of as a man-hater.
Will, you are right. The one thing that this drawing is good for is to allow people to see just why there are so may issues that need to be discussed in a more open manner, and if it has to be launched in a nontraditional way, then so be it. More than anything, I would love to hear what the artist even intended for this piece – the vision, the target, and of course, the reality. Well, if there was any. It is unfortunate that something so prominently displayed on The Observer and fostering heavy discussion is unspoken for.
The criticisms against this picture lack substance. This article of The Observer was great and shows how much progress journalism has made at Boston College over the past few years. I am proud to be an eagle.
I quote from your post to Kaki: “I cannot speak for the women of The Observer however I can say that your derogatory comments regarding their “voice” as members of this staff is as offensive as the picture itself.”
From your own words, not from my mouth to yours, you are either offended at both the “comments regarding their ‘voice’ as members of this staff” and the “offensive[ness] [of] the picture itself “ or you are not offended at both. Which is it?
The heart of these threads has a focus on ALL women. The women and men who speak here without anonymity all find The Observer’s coverage of the Vagina Monologues distasteful, but The Observer has that right to speak and we have that right to say The Observer it is totally missing the point of the VM.
Allie says it best. “The Vagina Monologues have nothing to do with hating men, they have to do with loving women. Is that really so wrong?”
Keep digging, Ian.
Amelia and others,
I agree that the cartoon was a bit crude and misguided. As Allie pointed out, the Vagina Monologues isn’t about hating men, but empowering women. Thus, not only do I think it was a crude cartoon, but a poorly thought out one.
All I’m saying is that those that helped organize and perform the VM brought something controversial to campus. It seems obvious to me that they would expect some backlash. In order to attract attention to women’s issues, VM is pretty out there at times. That’s great – I support it and think it’s an effective tool for garnering attention. This cartoon is an example of the other side using the same tactics in response. The artist clearly used sensationalist and exaggerated drawing techniques and messages to get his/her point across. Just my thoughts…
Arnold, read through the criticisms made, especially Maggie Carr’s and think again about how great the article was, it may have had good writing structure, but it made some statements that were misguided, or just plain wrong. Also, to discount the criticisms against the picture as “lacking in substance” is essentially stating that what these people have stated (women’s rights issues, journalistic integrity, etc) are not substantial. The picture itself is mocking a portion of a show that may have been sillier and light hearted than the rest of it, but to anyone who saw the performance, they understood the importance of this comedic relief to break up some of the incredibly depressing and disturbing revelations made by the show. These “sillier” portions of the show was simply good play structure on the part of Eve Ensler, regardless of what you think of Ms. Ensler.
I fail to see why “It’s surprising that this cartoon and article got to you to the point that you were so enraged and disgusted.” Many of the pieces in The Vagina Monologues are written from a place of anger and disgust at precisely what this cartoon depicts: a paradigm that allows for violence against women in person and in print and which deliberately twists women’s honest challenges to that paradigm into an invitation for assault. I appreciate that you do see that this cartoon is crude, but I hope you also see why so many people are upset by it. Does it not logically follow that people who have invested many years in a cause which fights against demeaning portrayals of women, the diminution of women’s experiences, silencing of women’s voices, and violence against women would indeed be enraged and disgusted by this?
I don’t think anyone who has seen The Observer’s responses to The Vagina Monologues in the past are surprised at this cartoon and the backlash that people express against the play. It doesn’t make the cartoon nor some of those responses any less cruel and offensive.
I’m just curious — if the Vagina Monologues represents the “end of the women’s rights movement at BC”, what should the women’s rights movement at BC be shooting for? According to this cartoon supporting V-Day (which is a day dedicated to spreading awareness of and stopping sexual violence), taking ownership of female sexuality through the Vagina Monologues, and discussing gender roles and sexuality with peers and faculty is the same as becoming an hysterical, ugly, scantily dressed, man-hating, madwoman. What then, should women at BC be doing instead?
The Vagina Monologues are candid and explicit, to be sure. But they involve women being graphic about women’s issues — while they involve men in several cases, they do not seek to portray men in a malicious sense, only to shine a light on important issues women face today. This cartoon, however, seeks to crudely demean women who would own their sexuality. It is not candid or honest, but malicious.
While your response is fair and thoughtful, we recommend that you attend the show next year.
On Maggie’s “enraged” response, we felt that her response was necessary, merited, and over-all fairly moderate in nature. Of course those involved in the VM expect backlash (they have received it for years), but when faced with a cartoon that depicts a specific member of the cast, a fellow BC student in a such a manner, is a response not called for? Should the cast have said, “Ah yes, I expect to be attacked. Very well then.” and not respond? Kudos Maggie, kudos girls, keep the debate going.
This cartoon makes me deeply thankful that I went to Brandeis.
Women and allies of the BC VagMons/V-day – I don’t mean for my comment in any way to take away from your efforts, and I commend you for the grace and dignity with which you’ve handled this idiotic piece so far.
P.S. I’m so sick of college newspapers defending their bullshit through claims of journalistic integrity. Get over yourselves.
I actually went to the Vagina Monologues performance and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I thought that it was a refreshingly honest and open representation of women’s issues. As a woman I am horribly offended by the fact that the thought of embracing one of the few parts of my body or my identity that makes me fundamentally woman makes me an idiot or whatever was meant by the ridiculous portrayal of Kyra.
I’d also like to ask how this means the end of the women’s rights movement at BC. The fact that women were openly embracing their vagina? The fact that the monologues represented women who found themselves without regard for men’s opinions or tastes? The fact that some of the monologues focused on a woman’s right to her dignity, integrity and safety? I’m curious which of these sounds like BC women giving up their fight for equality in society and protection from exploitation.
The Observer has been making some really poor choices in terms of content this year. ‘Ethnic packs,’ anyone?
In fear of being labeled a sexist, I’d like to retract all of my previous statements. Good luck to the cast of VM in spreading their message and kudos to the Observer for addressing a hot button issue and taking a stand. Like it or not, this is what journalism is all about – getting us to think, debate, and reason with each other.
p.s. I went to a VM show when I was in high school.
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