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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » penis sculpture=harassment

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Author Topic: penis sculpture=harassment
Dzuunmod
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http://www.badgerherald.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/02/26/3e5c0f518cbc8

A capsule: A bunch of the guys from Harvard University's men's crew team made a snow sculpture of a giant penis. Nine feet tall, it was, and I'm sure they were all very proud. The sculpture was in a public area.

Anyway, a bunch of women on campus are now claiming that this constitutes harassment. One of them is a rape victim.

Sculptures like this happen every winter, and I'm surprised that they don't get this reaction more often.

Harassment or good-natured goofing off?

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You can twist his body 'til it faces backwards/Those plastic features/You could make somebody a pretty little wife/But don't let anybody tell you how to live your life.
-Elvis Costello, Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)


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-Jill
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I'm inclined to think it's more good-natured than anything else.

quote:
From the above link:
The women, one of whom was a rape survivor, claimed that not only was the snow-penis offensive (it clearly was), but that "by logical extension" these men sought to force their sexuality upon women.

That seems a bit...extreme to me. While I see as much wrong with destroying it as I do with building it (both a trifle immature and neither giving any thought to others) I think a far more appropriate response would have been to sculpt a giant vulva.

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The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.


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persephone801
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Personally, I feel intimadated in any ethics talk if someone brings up very emotional, personal information relevant to the topic, but it's their right. In this case it's the rape victim bringing her past experience up so that you feel bad disagreeing with her about the snow-penis. rankly, I'm a rape survivor too, but that horrible experience has nothing to do with a juvenile prank of some college idiots ( even if they go to Harvard they're still being idiotic). THe crew team boys were not being malicious, they were being silly boys. It is not sexual harrasment. The captain of the team admits it was a junior hight stunt and that anyone was willing to tear it down if they were offended. I agree with him. Also, the artcle in the Harvard Crimson on this concludes with "Smart kids tend to overanalyze things." and the female protesters are doing just that. No one forced them to do anything, it was a stupid joke. Should we sue our neighbors because their snowmen discrimante against women because they perpetuate a preference for males in our society just because they are snow"men", obviously not. While a penis is a bit more graphic it is no more harmful. They real issue is that some guys got physically abusive when the women tried to demolish the snow penis. As it wasn't the builders of the piece because they had an early morning practice, why blame them. Also, guys have been doing this since kindergarten, girls do too. It is wrong, but when you've and your freinds have just built an elaborate house of cards and some boy comes over and destroys it because it's in the common room...you get pissed. What they did was understandable, but not excusable and that should be the issue the gilrs should sue over if anything. Harvard would punish the boys who attacked the snow penis demolishers, but strangely, the two girls can't seem to remember who they were or see their faces even though the square is well lit and they could see to walk around the campus and demolish the penis, sounds like they are turning a blind eye and letting the only boys who did anything wrong here walk away.
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LilBlueSmurf
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Defineatly good natured goofing off. I've been reading about it lately and have seen the pics online ... And it's funny. I don't find a thing wrong w/ it. If anything, i was amazed at how anatomically correct that managed to make it

And ya know ... I was sexually assaulted too. So what? In no way should an snow/ice penis scare or offend someone so much that they feel the need to tear the thing down! It's snow/ice ... Not a real penis. I don't understand how someone can feel so threatened by snow.

It sounds to me like she still has some issues w/ her rape and probably needs more (assuming she had any) counseling.

quote:
"...these men sought to force their sexuality upon women..."

Does this make sense to anyone else? I couldn't disagree more. It was just a prank ... And really, i can't believe how many people were actually offended by it. It's not as if they ripped their pants off and stood in the snow w/ their REAL penises hanging free ...

I think Sigmund Freud says it best tho ...

quote:
"Sigmund Freud, the master of phallic symbolism, once conceded that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." And sometimes a nine-foot erect snow-penis is just a nine-foot erect snow penis"

This was JUST snow. JUST a prank that wasn't intended to offend anyone, or make anyone feel uncomfortable ... Just like making a snowman or snowangel.

This is also an issue of freedom of speech. If the snow penis makers had the right to put it up, why don't the women who were so against have the right to take it down?

I do think it's really sad that this is SUCH a big issue tho ... The penis itself isn't a bad thing, nor does it symbolize violence against women. Until people can realize that penises themselves do not commit violent acts, or sexual assaults, we will have a lot of unhappy women (and even men) when it comes to stuff like this.


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Gumdrop Girl
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aww, it was just a dumb prank. If it had been me, I'd have been out there making a giant clitoris out of snow and not getting my knickers in a tizzy (this only exemplifies the supremacy of the University of California -- if only we got snow once in a while).

Freud has been debunked. And the women's studies professor who asserted that missile design was about patriarchal oppression needs to take a class on aerodynamics. If I had to fear every object that was taller than it was wide, thne I'd have to live my life in a cave (a reaffirming womb symbol, you see i am being facetious).

For those of you who actually live in places that get snow and agree with me, protest the absurdity at Harvard by buiding your own snowphalli

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Universal Law #4721: Any joke can be made funnier with the word "goatf**ker." Corollary, any story can be made more entertaining by adding a few ninjas.


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twiceagainyesterday
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Bah, just fun. Heck, if I made a giant snow vulva, people wouldn't start screaming that I was forcing my sexuality onto them. That is, assuming that they realize that it IS a vulva, considering my past experience in snow construction.

Penis does not = male supremacy, sexual harassment, or what have you. It is a body part. A body part. A body part that the builders had. Apparently. No more offensive than building a giant hand, at least, it shouldn't be more offensive than a hand, in my opinion.

Assigning body parts ideas because they are exclusive to one gender is wrong, in my opinion. Just leave it be. A penis is a penis, vulva is vulva, erect snow phalli are erect snow phalli.

Gumdrop Girl: That would be lovely. "Mom, I'm going out to build a snow penis, be back in an hour."


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Heather
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To be perfectly honest, the only thought I had when I saw this fracas last week was, "Gee, why hasn't anyone ever claimed the Washington Monument was sexual harassment?" Or the Space Needle? Or the St. Louis Arch?

I also can't help but wonder if the reception would not have been different had women constructed it, or had it been a giant vulva.

Penises don't rape people (and yes, I'm a survivor as well), nor do they have mailcious intent. People do, of any gender.

Really, if we'd just have a better envirnoment for being celebratory and joyous about bodies and genitals -- made of snow or otherwise -- not only would this sort of thing not get major, we'd likely all be a lot happier and more at peace.

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Heather Corinna
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Dzuunmod
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Yeah, people who claim everything is a phallic symbol bother me, too. How about trees? Aren't they phallic? What about women who are standing up?

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You can twist his body 'til it faces backwards/Those plastic features/You could make somebody a pretty little wife/But don't let anybody tell you how to live your life.
-Elvis Costello, Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)


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Pumpkin_Pie
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In Dublin in Ireland we now have a spire that's about 200ft up in the air, and there's no one comlainging that's a bloody sexualy harassment tool in disguise.

This was a dumb prank that any college kid, or any immature little prankster would do.

I mean, who hasn't built a snow penis/snow clitoris/vulva etc. at some point?

*waits expectantly for lots of raised hands*

Right, ahem. Just me and the college boys then.


On a serious note
As for the rape victim, then I think that she obviously has some issues with the rape that need to be resolved deep within her if she takes so badly to a snow penis.
Rape is a horrible horrible and brutal crime, but using it as a tool to dig into people's conscience is vertainly not the way to gain woman's liberation or to reduce sexual harassment. In actuality, it degrades and lowers the extent and severity of the crime, which should not EVER happen.


I'm not saying that that's what this woman is doing, but I just wanted to add that.


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Gladys
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May I just say how much I love the phrase "snow penis"? It's cracking me up. Snow penis, snow penis, SNOW PENIS!!! Hee hee hee!

Next time it snows, I am so making a snow vulva. And then I will pour cranberry juice on it so it will be a menstruating snow vulva. And then perhaps I will dance around it and chant.


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nifty
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good natured goofing. and skill too, if you think about it - i mean, 9 foot tall?! wow. that takes dedication. and really thick, warm gloves...
although i have just thought - in sculpture, to make things straight and upright (i assume this is how it was made as it is described as 9 foot TALL, not long...) there is some *stroking* involved, to flatten the snow and smooth it out? maybe these women saw this and freaked?
ok - people build snow MEN all the time... nobody sees any wrong in that right? i mean, its just a snow man! well, this is just the part of the snow man that has been left out for all these years - maybe these boys were fighting for the rights of snow men and women everywhere! hurrah! (its really hard to take this seriosly... read the article, even the journalist jokes about it...) and why are there hardly any snow women around? if you think about it - you can make a fuss about anything and everything in life.
this is just one of the sillier ones

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HDThoreau
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Waaaaiit just a minute...

Mind if I play devil's advocate?

It seems like a lot of people have suggested that the makers of the sculpture were "just kidding around." Doesn't that defense strike anyone as just a little too close to the "boys will be boys" attitude that is so often used to justify everything from lewd comment to rape?

I was also surprised to see so many people discount the feelings of those women who were offended by the sculpture. Unless you think they were lying, you have to take their accounts at face value -- they *were* upset by the sculpture. Two people is hardly a majority, but I have to believe that there were probably a couple of others who were offended but didn't say anything.

The makers of this sculpture chose a penis for a reason. They wanted to have an effect. Clearly nobody thinks that they were consciously attempted to harass anyone, but the fact that they chose this particular form indicates that they understood the image had power. After all, that's what makes it funny.

The issue, it seems to me, isn't whether the sculptors were malicious, but whether they were appropriately sensitive to the wide array of emotions their sculpture might engender.

And why do they have to be sensitive to it? "After all," you might say, "art has always been controversial, and controversial art has often dealt with sexual issues that might make viewers uncomfortable or even upset."

Well yes. But in most situations, art avoids being intrusive by being placed in settings where the viewer can choose to see it or not. In this case, the viewers had no choice, short of closing their eyes and stumbling around.

In that kind of setting, the artist or pranksters or whatever have an obligation to be aware of *everyone* who might come in contact with their piece. If they have any decency, they would apologize right away. And if those people who were offended have any sanity, they will recognize that the intent was not harmful, and everyone can move on.

But to justify it as "just a prank" is dangerous, because it implies that the pranksters should feel justified in creating something which, however innocently, caused harm to others.

just my two cents,

-dan

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"I'd rather live in a private hell than a public heaven"


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sapphirecat
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quote:
Originally posted by HDThoreau:
It seems like a lot of people have suggested that the makers of the sculpture were "just kidding around." Doesn't that defense strike anyone as just a little too close to the "boys will be boys" attitude that is so often used to justify everything from lewd comment to rape?

[...]

But to justify it as "just a prank" is dangerous, because it implies that the pranksters should feel justified in creating something which, however innocently, caused harm to others.


I think the difference here is that the giant snow penis was not directed at a particular person. It's there for everyone to see and make what they will of it.

Realistically, we can't smooth out all the corners of the world for everyone. If I go outside wearing nail polish, that might offend someone. How far does my sensitivity have to go in silencing my personality? When should I expect others to have a thick skin? Truly a thorny question.

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Sapphire Cat, a feline who can be both pink and blue...


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