RE: Fwd: Women's Group Debates Snow Penis

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Fri 28 Feb 2003 - 13:04:28 GMT

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    I actually think this is of interest to the list as it demonstrates two things. First the fear of the embodiment of ideas in artefacts, even such transient ones as snow sculpture, that leads people to defile/destroy them. Second, it demonstrates the power of ideology, in this case the ideology of radical feminism, to lead to extraordinary cases of self-contradiction. In this case, radical feminism suggests that the "correct" response to the historical repression of female identity (including, but not exclusively sexual identity) is the repression of male sexuality and indeed the description of it as "offensive".

    (Broadly speaking liberal feminists are not fundamentally opposed to representations of sexuality (exploitative and abusive forms of this aside), believing that the repression of personal expression to be a greater evil.

    This sculpture might have been in poor taste, or likely a deliberate wind-up, but to describe it an assertion of male dominance is rubbish. After all, let's optimistically assume that one day gender equality will be achieved in all areas of life, what will the response then be to representations of male sexuality? Will they still be offensive as symbols of male dominance/aggression etc?

    Shouldn't Ivy league students be doing something a little more constructive with their time.... I dunno, discussing and debating the war on Iraq perhaps?

    BTW, is this form of description of students as '04 etc. typical? I assume it refers to their year of eventual graduation, which seems to me to be remarkably optimistic. Given the number of Ivy league dropouts on this list, maybe students should be described in terms of when they join the memetics list? :-)


    > ----------
    > From: Ray Recchia
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2003 2:28 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Fwd: Women's Group Debates Snow Penis
    > An amusing article and perhaps of interest to those at Harvard, but I
    > don't
    > think you can justify its presence on this list without some extreme
    > stretching.
    > Ray Recchia
    > At 05:42 PM 2/26/2003 -0500, you wrote:
    > >Originally published on Wednesday, February 26, 2003 in the News section
    > >of The Harvard Crimson.
    > >
    > >Women's Group Debates Snow Penis
    > >By HERA A. ABBASI
    > >Crimson Staff Writer
    > >
    > >The destroyers of the nine foot snow phallus explained their motivations
    > >to the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) at a meeting last night,
    > >receiving a mixed reaction from the feminist group.
    > >
    > >The sculpture's destroyers, Amy E. Keel '04 and her roommate Mary C.
    > >Cardinale '03, said they leveled the ice penis in order to spare others
    > >from being offended by it.
    > >
    > >"I think that women or men who are walking to class should not be
    > >subjected to a penis," Keel said. "It was a structure put up to assert
    > >male dominance."
    > >
    > >Cardinale said that she thought the sculpture was "lewd" and not
    > >"appropriate."
    > >
    > >The 20 students at the meeting debated the free speech rights of the
    > >builders—and destroyers—of the giant penis and discussed how affronted
    > >onlookers could have responded to its construction.
    > >
    > >While some RUS members criticized the statue—which was erected in
    > >Tercentenary Theater by members of the men's crew team on Feb. 11—others
    > >were less sure about its inappropriateness.
    > >
    > >"I didn't really think of it that much," Ellenor J. Honig '04 said.
    > "There
    > >are things to me that are so much worse."
    > >
    > >Fred O. Smith '04 said he thought other people might have been upset when
    > >the sculpture was torn down because it took a great deal of work to
    > construct.
    > >
    > >"I wonder how much people's upsetness is due to how much time they put in
    > >it," Smith said. "I can think about it both ways."
    > >
    > >However, Smith said that if Keel and Cardinale were threatened as they
    > >took the sculpture down, then that would raise the issue of "male
    > domination."
    > >
    > >RUS members also discussed whether the First Amendment gave the sculptors
    > >the right to construct the snow phallus.
    > >
    > >"It wasn't anyone's private property; it was snow," said Keel. "Taking
    > >down a not impeding anyone's free speech."
    > >
    > >RUS Co-President Ilana J. Sichel '05 said she believed the most effective
    > >way to protest the sculpture would have been to put up signs with
    > >differing opinions.
    > >
    > >"I don't think we have a right to take down things that offend us,"
    > Sichel
    > >said. "We have to put up posters to the contrary."
    > >
    > >The group also threw out possible actions that could have been carried
    > out
    > >in protest of the snow phallus' construction.
    > >
    > >Some who were present said they had thought about building a snow vagina,
    > >but quickly dismissed that type of artistic protest because the two
    > >symbols would be construed differently.
    > >
    > >"It's a fundamental misunderstanding or ignorance what an erect penis
    > >means as opposed to a vagina," said RUS Vice President Rebeccah G. Watson
    > '04.
    > >
    > >Honig argued that the group would not have taken the destruction of a
    > snow
    > >vagina well— just as the snow phallus builders were upset by Keel and
    > >Cardinale's nighttime castration of their sculpture.
    > >
    > >"I feel like we'd be having the same discussion," Honig said.
    > >
    > >Copyright © 2001, The Harvard Crimson Inc. All rights reserved.
    > >
    > >===============================================================
    > >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > >For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > >see:
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

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