When CBS decided to pick up the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show, knowing that the programs was aimed directly at hormonally-exploding youngsters, I wondered: how would parents react if their local high school announced that it would be holding an underwear-and-lingerie fashion show on their own? Little did I realize that at least one community would outdo the spectacle on CBS. In oh-so-progressive Amherst, Massachusetts, the local high school is aiming to sink lower, much lower.
To celebrate (or more accurately, eviscerate) Valentine's Day, the Amherst-Pelham School District is welcoming a Friday-the-13th staging of the vulgar feminist play "The Vagina Monologues," the first national notice of a high-school show in this genital-obsessed production's history.
How inappropriate is this piece of sexual/political propaganda on a high school stage? Start with the fact that the word "vagina" appears in the play about once a minute, or over 100 times, as participants ask penetrating questions like "What does a vagina smell like?" When that word isn't used, the C-word for female genitalia is uttered, all in a feminist attempt to get women to fall in love with their own sex organs.
The feminist theory is that no one appreciated those, see. Men may beg to differ, but they are cast in this play mostly as violent woman-haters. As Christina Hoff Sommers has explained, "It offers a rogues' gallery of oafs, brutes, adulterers, rapists, child molesters, and vile little boys."
When "The Vagina Monologues" it first emerged to raves in off-Broadway circles, playwright Eve Ensler featured a 24-year-old woman seducing a 13-year-old girl: "Your vagina, untouched by a man, smells so nice, so fresh, wish I could keep it that way forever." She then "rapes" the child. So why would a high school approve the presentation of a play that glorifies lesbian statutory rape? As the play moved from anything-goes New York to showings across the country, the seduction remains, but the 13-year-old was transformed to a 16-year-old and the "good rape" talk was dropped. That bit of editing made it all OK for high school audiences.
Amherst's decision did not go unopposed. Local resident Larry Kelley drew national attention for protesting. "The girls who will be up there faking orgasms onstage wouldn't even be old enough to see 'When Harry Met Sally' in the movie theater," he declared after the school's announcement. "But it isn't the orgasms or even the use of the C-word that gets me. Rather, it's the favorable description of sex between a 24-year-old woman and a 16-year-old woman. This is inappropriateness squared for high school students."
Amherst town board official Carl Seppola claimed on Fox News Channel that the school's approval is no different than a movie theater showing movies for adults: "The school's not just simply putting this on, and bringing all the kids into the auditorium. We're treating it like an R-rated movie. The participants and those who wish to view it must have parental permission. The school is very much relying upon on the ability of the parent to assess the maturity of the child."
This is a grotesque case of political correctness and cultural surrender. The school hasn't always been this casual about protested plays. The same bunch putting this garbage on stage would not allow the staging of Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," since activists insisted that it was demeaning to Puerto Ricans.
Ensler and her "V-Day" cultural campaigners protest that Amherst is not the first staging of the play, that the trendy Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, New York, put on the play, and featured the school's principal and a lunchroom employee in the cast. They claim they have no organized campaign to stage the play in high schools. But that's disingenuous. In fact, their Web site offers a youth page with suggestions for high school activism.
Among the suggestions for high school students are "Have a Vagina-Friendly Bake Sale" and, believe it or not, "Design and designate a Rape Free Zone in your high school." (Shouldn't the entire school be a rape-free zone?)
Unfortunately, the number of protesting parents in Amherst were outnumbered by the number of supporters at the school board meeting, and that's perhaps the most troubling aspect of this whole sorry tale. An entire generation of children is having their very innocence stolen, and in this case it is their own parents robbing them of it. Valentine's Day will now be Vagina Day. Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad.