Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It appears that there has been a bit of a falling out in the FEDS exec. I received two e-mails forwarded to the engineering society mailing lists in rapid succession today. The first announced that the board of directors had overturned the Vice-President Internal's decision to deny the Women's Centre the use of the Student Life Centre to perform The Vagina Monologues. The second e-mail announced the resignation of aforementioned vice president.

I am far from being a supporter of the recently resigned vice president. Quite the opposite in fact. And I will definitely agree that he was out of line - expecting people to have self-respect directly opposing society is rather optimistic, making it unreasonable to say that The Vagina Monologues contains any content that gives cause to restrict the freedom of speech of the people involved. And the stated goals of the V-day campaign (namely the elimination of violence against women, especially crimes which primarily or exclusively affect women such as rape, honour killings, FGM and others) are definitely worth supporting. And although I have no actual information on the organisation, its site suggests that there might be a high enough degree of effectiveness that the creation of a new organisation was worth it.

However I have to almost admire the actions of the vice president. Were he in a position where he was free to act as his conscience dictated I would admire them, despite my doubts as to his motivations. Too many people are afraid of opposing any movement that does good, even if it causes harm as well.

In the interest of explaining to anyone who is willing to listen (i.e. those wiser & better than I) my reasons for opposing this is simple: I find the ideals of the organisation to be suspect. To quote from a defense the organisation has put on its website, the vagina "does indeed represent women both physical and metaphysically as a feminine being" (V-day:Opposition on Catholic college campuses,, 7 February, 2007.) To suggest that women are that strongly defined by their sexual organs is offensive. To suggest that a physical difference can so much define femininity is denying other differences between men & women.

On top of that, if the physical aspect of sexuality is so much a part of what makes a woman, one would assume the same to be true for men. This reduces society to little more than the proverbial naked apes. And even if it were in me to be contented with the dreams a naked ape might have, societal mores (which would not be needed by naked apes, and to an extent are disdained by the V-Day organisation) are a form of protection for the vulnerable. If you doubt that, ask yourself just why it is that the idea of a 16-year-old mother disturbs you.

If you feel that I've misrepresented or misunderstood anything that I present here I'd love to hear from you. However pettiness will likely be met by more of the same & summarily deleted.

Update: Having read the coverage of the story in the campus newspaper it would appear that I was wrong in maligning the former vice president. The presentation of the show is going to be done in the main area of the campus centre, not off in one of the small rooms. In other words, it is not necessary to decide to attend the event to be subjected to it. It would be nice if society agreed that everyone was allowed to choose (that's the big thing for society, right? Do what you want?) how sexualized they wanted their everyday life. Society's attitude towards sex is often called permissive. I would say that that term is somewhat misleading - permissive suggests that anything is permitted. Modesty, however, would appear to not be.

1 comment:

Someone else said...

I looked up the Vagina monologues on Wikipedia (the fount of all knowledge), the V-day web page(the fount of all things V-day), and the Imprint article (the fount of all things... well, not a fount of much at all, really). Having gone through all that, I have to say I agree with your update. Showing the Vagina monologues is fine. Showing it in the main thoroughfare of the SLC is not so fine. I'd like to chose whether or not I want to watch it. I know that at least one religiously controversial event has been moved (at the last minute) to the MPR for much the same reason.

That being said, I think the problem wasn't so much that the VPI made this decision, it was how the decision got made. He apparently didn't follow the proper procedure. It is crucially important that proper procedure be followed for things like this. Otherwise you either have something like this happen, or you have the lingering impression that the only way your event will be shown is if you become best buddies with those in charge.