‘Darkness and Secrecy’

As the narrator in The Vagina Monologues explained, she “wrote” the play because she “worried about [her] vagina. It needed a context, a community…There’s just so much darkness and secrecy around them.” Not only did she worry about the state of her primary sexual organ, but she also felt concerned about the unsaid, the unspoken, the abyss still unexplored for nothing other than the sake of propriety. The Andover community faced such questions this past weekend at the show’s opening: how would, and how should, the school receive such a controversial production? Despite the hesitance of some to stage the play, The Vagina Monologues reflected the result of risk-taking and intellectual curiosity, as well as a need for the Andover mind to extend the boundaries of academia and embrace such borderline topics as sexuality, feminism, and closeted individuality in an honest and thoughtful manner. An institution that values the beauty of an active mind, Andover ironically places academic conservatism above challenging its own limits. The controversy surrounding this theatrical production speaks to the desire to separate the rational mind from less scholarly topics. Thus, in order to stage the show, the director and her critics compromised, resulting in a 16+ age restriction and an optional discussion to follow each performance. These careful choices helped assimilate the mind and body, academia and sexuality, and provided a scholarly forum for the serious and controversial topics addressed in The Vagina Monologues. From the 1974 Senior prank, which featured a formation of naked bodies that spelled the words “Mother Phillips,” to a 2000 Phillipian article regarding female sexual habits on campus by Liz Edmonds ’01, students have demonstrated a desire to address such taboo topics in a public forum. With such blatant signs of sexuality floating in our midst, avoiding this topic in an academic setting represents an egregious fallacy in academic thought. The culture of the unspoken certainly needs a context, and a comfortable place in this community. The “darkness and secrecy” surrounding such topics only furthers misunderstanding and misinterpretation; it is the duty of the community to shed light on the unspoken and prepare PA students not only for future academic endeavors, but also for analysis and understanding of less traditional topics. The Vagina Monologues introduced, first and foremost, a problem with academic culture and this institution’s repression of sexual expression. The community should welcome these unexplored topics for the purpose of challenging the mind and stretching the limits of its academic environment.