According to the Washington Post, students at Mount Holyoke College have decided to abandon an annual tradition and never perform The Vagina Monologues again because it might be offensive to transgender people. This highlights an ongoing acrimonious debate over the status of transgender women which is dividing the feminist movement. It is also proof of the old saying: The revolution devours her own children.
In fact, that is what makes the implications of the proscribing of the play so fascinating. Over recent years, numerous Jesuit schools have sponsored campus performances of the play, presumably as a means of showing just how open and inclusive they are. Sadly, they appear to have sold whatever virtue they had left to a very cruel and fickle mistress: Political relevance. Indeed, so fickle is she, that the moral leaders of Georgetown, Fordham, and elsewhere may yet find their acts of inclusion paradoxically become future evidence of their bigoted exclusion of minorities and the marginalized. Past events indicate that our contemporary Committees of Public Safety do not believe in a statute of limitations for yesterday’s breaches of tomorrow’s pet orthodoxies.
Saint-Just famously declared that the republic “is constituted by the total destruction of what is opposed to it.” Shortly thereafter he became unwilling proof of precisely that. Now, total destruction of any opposition within the public market square is the goal of the sexual progressives. The Mount Holyoke incident hints that this will prove unsustainable in the long run because it points to serious fissures within the very revolution it aspires to carry forward. Perhaps Thermidor is closer than we think.
Carl Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary.