The Rock had a meeting with The Observer regarding the recent articles made by both publications regarding The Vagina Monologues. The Rock thanks The Observer for engaging in a civil discussion. The following is an account of the events that transpired.
As we all know, The Observer’s recent “Open Letter to Father Leahy,” pertaining to the recent showing of The Vagina Monologues, caused quite a stir on campus and received harsh criticism and negativity from many BC students and alumni. This letter disheartened all of us at The Rock and encouraged our Chief, Ian Thomas Malone, to write an “Open Letter to The Observer” voicing his concerns and disappointment with the editorial.
In response, The Observer requested that our two organizations meet and discuss the recent articles relating to the monologues. It took effort and patience and we were almost certain that The Observer had decided to back out of the discussion, but on Tuesday night we were finally able to meet and converse about the letter.
We met with Ethan Mack, The Observer’s managing editor, who vehemently stood by his letter and declared that The Vagina Monologues is a play that is incompatible with Catholic values and Catholic education, and thus, is not fit for this university and should not be shown on this campus. In fact, he argued that as a Catholic university, Boston College has turned its back on its Catholic background by allowing production of the play to persist.
He explained that what angered him most about the monologues was the consistent use of vulgarity, that it seemed to make light of and even promote statutory rape, and that is enforced the idea that a woman is nothing but her genitalia. Ethan continued to say that although he understood the intention of the monologues, he did not feel that it filled the purpose in the appropriate way that it claimed to.
Ethan began his argument by saying that above all, The Observer supports the Magisterium in its fullest and refuses to affirm anything that is contrary to church teaching. In fact, he referenced The Observer’s January article on the vandalism found in the office of the Lambda Law Student Association at the BC Law School, (“Vandalism at Law School is Reprehensible”) which made a point to apologize for the newspaper’s previous controversial relationship with BC’s LGBTQ community and was widely appreciated by BC students. However, he explained that the apology was taken out of context and that The Observer only criticized the vandalism in the law school because it was vandalism, not because they think homosexuality is moral and that because homosexuality is contrary to church teaching, The Observer “didn’t apologize for the view, but instead, for how the view was expressed.”
Ethan finalized his argument by saying in the future The Observer will not purposely try to seek controversy but will be sure to address something that they think is blatantly wrong, like they have in the past. He only hopes that the university will take it upon themselves to ensure that the catholic identity of this school and the catholic values of this school that are supposed to be held dear are actually enforced.
I must say that the meeting itself was civil, but incredibly difficult to sit through. We persistently argued that The Vagina Monologues is an empowering and motivational play designed to encourage women to embrace and express their entire personhood, and that it wonderfully celebrates the versatility of women and offers a support system for women on campus and around the world. Unfortunately, Ethan was adamant about his beliefs in the “Catholic values.”
I believe that his response and opinions about The Vagina Monologues and the LGBTQ community show a blatant disregard for others and a misguided understanding of what is supposed to be inherent in Catholic values: loving one another and accepting others for who they are. The Observer thinks that their articles promote Catholic values, but instead, these articles have consistently hurt people, undermined efforts to combat sexual violence, and furthered the idea that most students on campus feel – that their newspaper is backwards, misinformed, severely lacking progress, and becoming irrelevant on this campus. They are not promoting Catholic values, but instead, are hoping to reinforce old-age traditions that only hold back our society from progressing.
Although I have to thank Ethan Mack and The Observer for agreeing to meet with us and discuss the topic, it is unfortunate that I left the meeting feeling even more disheartened with the publication than I had before.