In the American state of Colorado, an art exhibit that features a work consisting of penises hanging on a wire is causing controversy.
It's causing controversy because the exhibit is intended to raise awareness of, and make people think about domestic violence. Hanging something that's a part of me on a wire to raise awareness about evil acts is misguided, to say the least.
In addition to what I'm saying up above, I'm thinking about something else: the exhibit is being supported by Safehouse, a local centre for battered women and their children. Why are there such centres that only take in battered women and children? Why not men? The argument could be made that the women in those centres wouldn't feel comfortable with men around, but that just doesn't cut it with me.
First off, the whole idea seems pretty heterosexist. Like, if you're a woman who's battered, we have to protect you from men and vice-versa. Second, it just encourages men who might be afraid of women after being battered by one (and vice-versa) to go on feeling that way. Wouldn't it be better to have them all together, to feel their feelings together?
Here, I'm not even getting into the practical side of things -- like wouldn't this idea make sense for smaller communities, where there might not be enough men, say, to sustain a shelter of their own?
Well, Dzuun, you already know what I think, but here goes...
I don't think this piece of art is offensive. To me it looks like a bunch of dildos on a clothesline, which is absurd, but not offensive. It's just a play on the word "hung". I'm sure similar works of art have used other body parts. What about those silly packages of "penis pasta" or "boobie pasta"? It's ridiculous, it's in bad taste, but pretty harmless.
To me what is more harmful is the attempt to censor artworks such as this.
About the shelter issue- I'm not sure what this piece of art has to do with domestic violence. Perhaps the artist is a survivor. Perhaps it indicates the artist's independence from men. Or perhaps it does symbolize a violent wish. It's all up for interpretation, and that's what good art's about in my view.
Finally, should domestic violence shelters be open to both men and women? Yes, ideally. In large cities where numbers warrant, pilot projects should be implemented to try out the idea of co-ed shelters. But I do worry what will become of abuse survivors who feel uncomfortable around the opposite gender. Yes, they need to realize that an entire gender cannot be demonized for what happened to them, but we also can't just leave them "hanging out to dry" if they want an all men/women shleter.
As far as a play on the word "hung" goes...
What the title of the work ("Hung Out To Dry") suggested to me was when a rancher kills a coyote, the carcass is often hung up on a fencepost, sort of as a warning to other predators, and left to wither and rot and dry.
Penises hung up on a clothesline made me think about that - and that really disturbed me. I don't think it's about men always being the aggressors, about men being evil and women being victims. As a woman who loves quite a few men, my lover, my father, my friends, this image is really shocking. What would we think if there were representations of breasts, lopped off and stapled to a wall?
------------------ ~lemming, Scarleteen Advocate
want to know the inner lemming? read her diary at http://innerlemming.diaryland.com. "Did you see my friend? He couldn't believe it, 'The girls are holding hands, the girls are holding hands!' Don't be a fool, it's 1995, the girls are just friends." --Belle and Sebastian, "Photo Jenny"
Some thoughts this thread brings to mind...
If I remember my shelter history right, most women's shelters were started by non profit groups made up of women interested in creating safe houses for battered women and children.
I think the big thing stopping men from creating safe places for themselves is the great shame they feel. They should take a lesson from the women of the past who worked past their shame and fear and created their safehouses. I am sure men could find support from clergy and other religious leaders who will hold their requests for help in confidence. or they can look for help on the Internet. It isn't a big step, but it is a step nonetheless.
As for the art, I see it as open to interpretation. I am terrible at examining art when I see it in person, much less if I am only glimpsing it in a small picture on the Internet so I will refrain from doing so.
------------------ Louise Lalonde -Scarleteen Sexpert & Volunteer du Jour
"Glad to have a friend like you, And glad to just be me" -Carol Hall
Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998
Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.