With Respect

This past Monday, we at the Lanthorn decided to publish an editorial cartoon concerning “The Vagina Monologues” that has since drawn criticism and outrage across Grand Valley State University. With such a strong response to the cartoon, we deemed it necessary to explain our decision.

In almost 50 years of publication, our paper’s Opinion and Editorial page has served as a place for all voices across campus to be heard provided they do not lash out against or belittle any individual social groups – this includes the unpopular, the controversial and the questionable. Jacob Bowen’s cartoon, which depicted selective scenes from the “Vagina Monologues” with male characters claiming that the play “sounds like porn,” was not intended as a commentary on women in general but rather as commentary on the play itself. Upon viewing the cartoon, the men and women on staff assessed it and determined that, on the basis of free speech, it was appropriate enough to publish on our Opinion and Editorial page. While the underlying opinion in Bowen’s cartoon does not necessarily reflect the views of the Lanthorn or any of its staff members, we will continue to stand by him and his right to make his voice heard.

We do not claim to have made the absolute right decision, but it was a controversial cartoon involving a controversial production. “The Vagina Monologues” has always been a play that has drawn a variety of reactions. Several of the Letters to the Editor that we have received have made note of the play’s intention to be perceived as a message of female empowerment through open discussion of the Vagina and issues of female sexuality that would otherwise be taboo. While this is an important concept to note in understanding the true purpose of the play, that does not mean that everyone will interpret that message the same way or feel comfortable with the way it is presented. Bowen’s cartoon represented a perspective, and while such a perspective is clearly less popular among GVSU students, that does not make it less valid or less worthy of being heard.

Since the cartoon was published, students, staff and faculty on campus have rallied around “The Vagina Monologues” and the issue of women’s rights. Classrooms, student organizations and informal groups have engaged in discussions about the intentions of “The Vagina Monologues” and the importance of the issues it raises. While the circumstances from which such discussion was derived were unfortunate, it has been heartening to see the campus rally so strongly around the issue of female empowerment.

We sincerely appreciate the amount of feedback we have received in regards to the cartoon and hope that you will continue to voice your comments, concerns and opinions to us.