Sexualizing minors, in the name of art, has found a niche in Amherst, Mass.
Last week the college town was abuzz after learning that The Vagina Monologues will be performed at the Amherst Regional High School in February with the approval of the school committee and Superintendent Jere Hochman. According to the Amherst Bulletin, Hochman chirped, "We hope that there are ways for our students to find their voice in their years with us."
As part of a global campaign, students and staff at the school will stage the work of contentious playwright Eve Ensler on V-Day (Valentine's Day) at the close of "violence against women" week. Proceeds from the presentation, reported the Bulletin, will be doled out to a local women's shelter. Extracting from interviews she conducted with more than 200 femmes, Ensler created a series of edgy soliloquies and dialogues that are "a celebration of female sexuality." But "celebration" is merely a misleading way to say "overkill." Promotional material for the book edition notes that the word "vagina" is used over a hundred times.
Ensler's play has been featured - sometimes with famous actresses - all over the United States and at hundreds of college campuses. Last year an audience at Amherst College was treated to this feminist bacchanal, and one brave soul publicly complained. Writing in the student newspaper, Andrew Moin was stunned by a scene which "consisted of descriptions" of a teen-aged girl having sex with an older woman. He wasn't too impressed, either, with the scene that was titled "If Men Could Menstruate."
Poor guy. He, at least, attended to gain a better understanding of "gender relations." But who could be inspired by explicit speeches that sound more appropriate for a gynecologist's office? Consider this portion of the "monologues":
"I come from the 'down there' generation. That is, those were the words-spoken rarely and in a hushed voice that the women in my family used to refer to all female genitalia, internal or external. It wasn't that they were ignorant of terms like vagina, labia, vulva, or clitoris. On the contrary, they were trained to be teachers and probably had more access to information than most."
Real educators, those with half a brain and a measure of discernment, would not want their adolescent students mouthing that embarrassing drivel or listening to it. But the airheads who run this school system are not unlike Michael Jackson. They have distinguished themselves by consistently showing bad judgment while in the company of children.
This is not the first time, either, that a school play has been controversial in Amherst. In 1999 a never-ending debate occurred over "West Side Story" because the musical, according to critics, unfavorably stereotyped Latinos. Larry Kelley, who organized a rally on the Amherst Town Common in support of the Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim classic, is perplexed with the current theatrical choice.
"Amherst Regional High School Committee became the only ruling authority in history to cancel a production of West Side Story because a distinct minority in town thought it was racist. Yet they embrace allowing young teenagers - who could not get into an R-rated movie without a parent or guardian - to revel in sexually-explicit material," stated Kelley.
Get the Orwellian logic, Larry? It's cutting-edge to offend the sensibilities of traditional Americans, but it's declasse to offend La Raza-indoctrinated Hispanics.
It's also not the first time that sex-n-art have caused an academic rumpus.
In 1996, Amherst school officials decided to display a photo-text exhibit in the elementary schools titled "Love Makes A Family: Living in Lesbian and Gay Families." David Keenan, a father of five, joined several families in a legal action to bar the exhibit from being shown.
The legal challenge was unsuccessful, but Keenan remains glad he took a stand. "I opposed the exhibit, because it was not appropriate for the age group or the mission of public education."
Long time observers of one of the country's wackiest liberal communities wonder if the mission of public education in the People's Republic of Amherst isn't to sexualize vulnerable youngsters. If so, the shameless adults running the schools are a threat to national security and qualify as enemy combatants. Ship 'em to Guantanamo? Not a bad idea.
(Izzy Lyman is the author of "The Homeschooling Revolution" and operator of Icky's Blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)