Thursday, January 22, 2004

Another Reason Not to Send Your Kids To Public School

A time-honored custom in American education is the School Play. Led by teachers and parents, high school kids have been performing everything from Shakespeare to Sondheim for generations. Last fall, the kids here at our Catholic high school put on an outstanding performance of the stage version of The Diary of Ann Frank. It's a great experience for the kids, and I'm always impressed at how good a job they usually do.

Well, in Amherst, Massachusets, school officials have some funny ideas about what constitutes good material for a high school play. Instead of Neil Simon or Rogers & Hammerstein, Amherst High School will be performing "The Vagina Monologues", with the blessing of the School Board. "The Vagina Monologues" was written by Eve Ensler, supposedly based on interviews she conducted with more than 200 women, as "a celebration of female sexuality." The dialogue in the play is sexually explicit, and liberally peppered with profanity. In addition to a soliloquy on the various slang words for women's genitalia, the play features a graphic and laudatory account of the lesbian seduction of a 15 year-old girl by a 24 year-old woman.

This play is meant to culminate a week of "events educating students and faculty about women's health and reproductive rights, as well as violence against women."

"Women's health and reproductive rights"? I sense code language for "contraception and abortion".

"We sometimes tend to forget the highly sexualized experience of teen-agers these days,'' said parent Al Sax, whose son attends the high school.

That's right, Al. The kids are sexualized, so what they need is kick that sexualization into higher gear! I guess it doesn't occur to the illuminati of Amherst to ask whether this sexualization is a good thing, and whether it ought to be encouraged.

Speaking as both the co-interim director of the Men's Resource Center and as a parent, [one man] said the school's support of the production is ''probably one of the most important steps in the gender healing ... work that we are championing.''

Translation of Liberal Bafflegab: "We're working overtime to thoroughly confuse kids about Nature and sexuality. We're championing the overthrow of outmoded concepts like modesty, chastity, and respect. This play gives us a great opportunity to advance our agenda under the guise of education."

I saw "The Vagina Monologues" on HBO a couple of years ago (I hadn't set out to watch it, but discovered it by chance and decided to sit through it), and the thing that boggles me is the overwhelming stupidity of the play. Having seen it, I couldn't connect the critical paeans of the play with the amateurish drivel I was actually watching. The play is only appealing to the sort of pubescent mindset that delights in saying "naughty" words in order to upset grown-ups. The play is a relentlessly tedious exercise in arrested adolescent development.

And I bet that many of the kids who get suckered into doing this will, at least to themselves, think the same. They'll mouth the inane dialogue and think "this is dumb". But, having been assured by the adults that this is oh-so "Important", and that they are so "Courageous", they'll go on, and be made a little dumber in the process. And Ideology will march on.