Who Celebrate Rape
the award-winning radical feminist play by Eve Ensler entitled The
Vagina Monologues, a 24-year-old woman plies a 13-year-old
girl with alcohol, then sexually seduces her. By statute and by
feminist definition, this "seduction" is rape. Yet, from
the stage, the little girl declares, "Now people say it was
a kind of rape ... Well, I say if it was rape, it was a good rape..."
Apparently, the reference to "good rape" has been deleted from
some performances but the surrounding language makes the rape’s
goodness clear. For example, the little girl eulogizes her orgasm:
gently and slowly lays me out on the bed..." She gratefully
concludes, "I’ll never need to rely on a man."
In the past year, a nationwide endeavor has been underway to have
the play performed on every college and university campus. After
it was staged at Georgetown University, Robert Swope a bi-weekly
contributor and a token conservative voice for the student paper,
The Hoya asked
a question in his column. Swope wanted to know, "Is there such
a thing as a good rape?" The column entitled "Applauding
Rape at Georgetown: Vagina Monologues In Its Second Year" was
scheduled for late March. The editors yanked it before publication.
When Swope complained, he was dismissed from the paper for showing
"disrespect." Editor-in-chief, David Wong explained that
Swope’s "ridiculing [of] the women’s studies program and condemning
the women’s center creates the appearance of some personal vendetta..."
A few months earlier (10/19/99), Swope had published a column entitled
"Georgetown Women’s Center: Indispensable Asset or Improper
Expenditure." He opened with the question, "What do you
get when you glorify...the rape of a minor, promote lesbianism,
insult heterosexuals and attack men? Answer: An event by the Georgetown
University Women’s Center." Swope remarked upon how faculty
from the Women’s Center had reacted to a presentation of the pro-rape
Vagina Monologues by giving it a standing ovation. An odd
reaction given that one of the Center’s primary purposes is to support
women who have been raped. Swope called for the Center to be disbanded.
Elsewhere, Swope asked, "why is rape only wrong when a man
commits it, but when it’s by a woman committed against another woman,
who just happens to be 13-years-old, it is celebrated and a university
club sponsors it?"
A flurry of letters in The Hoya excoriated Swope. A female
professor associated with the Center declared, "such a viewpoint
does not represent a legitimate contribution to campus "debate."
Another woman called Swope’s well-reasoned piece "hysterical"
and "scurrilous," containing statements that "breed
hate and fear." Yet another woman called The Hoya irresponsible
for printing such criticism.
Then, in an unrepentant column entitled "Intellectual or Political
Pursuit" (02/11/00), Swope called the Women’s Studies program
"another arm of the feminist movement" that aims at transforming
"American colleges and universities into ideological indoctrination
camps." Among other examples, he pointed to program’s newsletter
(Women’s Studies News, February-March 2000) that advertised
openings in Hillary Clinton’s campaign for Senate. He called the
advertisement "left-wing political advocacy funded by an institution
[Georgetown University] that isn’t even supposed to be in the business
of politics." No less a personage than the associate dean felt
it necessary to shoot down Swope’s claims.
Swope’s dismissal from The Hoya is not the first time he
has critiqued the GU’s administration on the issue of censorship.
The periodical Campus (Spring 1999) featured an article by
Swope entitled "Administrators, Student Leaders Willing Co-conspirators
in Georgetown Theft." He described an incident in what seems
to be a series of attempts to stifle conservative opinion at this
Catholic university. On October 8, 1998, over 2,000 copies of the
conservative student journal The Georgetown Academy were
stolen and, presumably, destroyed. The Academy had criticized the
university’s pro-gay "Safe Zone Program" by which pink
triangles reminiscent of those worn by gays in Nazi concentration
camps were to be hung on dormitory and office doors. When
a similar program was conducted at Carnegie Mellon, a resident assistant
who refused to co-operate was dismissed.
Although The Academy asked a campus group for gays and GU’s President
O’Donovan to condemn the theft, neither party responded. The same
was not true of The Hoya that openly applauded the thieves
in an editorial (10/16/99). Or of The Voice, GU’s weekly
newsmagazine, that accused those at The Academy of being "heterosexual
extremists." The President finally condemned the "alleged"
theft...after feeling the pressure of the national media and when
threatened with a forthcoming letter from the Student Press Law
Center (Arlington). The Law Center advised him to support First
Amendment rights on campus, an issue that has become litigious in
the last few years.
Alan Charles Kors, who co-authored the book Shadow
University, The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses,
commented on Swope’s dismissal from The Hoya. Kors called
it a common scenario with student newspapers. "A paper solicits
its token conservative columnist, and then when he speaks his honest
mind, the editors run for cover." According to a March 28th
press release from the Georgetown Ignatian Society, The Hoya
is receiving prominent criticized for Swope’s dismissal. William
Peter Blatty, an alumnus and author of The
Exorcist, sent a letter-to-the-editor which read, "With
all that the demon says and does in my novel, never until I read
of The Hoya’s and Leo O’Donovan’s support of The Vagina
Monologues, and their suppression of Robert Swope’s article,
have I truly appreciated the meaning of the word "obscenity."
According to Swope, however, not one member of the faculty has commented.
Meanwhile, the editors are suddenly explaining the dismissal by
referring to hitherto undisclosed factors, such as Swope’s lack
of timeliness. Of course the firing had nothing to do with passages
from the suppressed article that described audience reaction to
The Vagina Monologues. Along this vein, Swope wrote, "Like
clap-ridden sailors in a Southeast Asian strip joint, the mostly
female audience who attended the monologues hooted and hollered,
laughing and clapping at just about every piece presented, including
this perverted one entitled "The Little Coochi Snorcher that
Could." The latter is a reference to the drunken 13-year-old
who calls her genitalia "coochi snorcher." Nor could the
firing possibly have anything to do with the article’s renewed call
for an end of funding to the Women’s Center which should be made
to "exist or not in the marketplace of ideas without subsidy."
In the final analysis, however, this sad situation on the Georgetown
campus is cause for encouragement. At least, the words "First
Amendment" have been spoken and some prominent voices think
something is amiss.
McElroy is author of The