EG: Strong Grrrls and Triggering Statues

Oooh, so scary!

“Sleepwalker” by Tony Matelli. Source: Getty Images

It’s come to my attention (multiple times now) that the students at the all women’s college Wellesey are freaking out over the statue pictured above. As some of my readers may know, I graduated with an Art degree. As a result of that I know for a fact that this is not very obscene as far as art goes. He has his underwear on and isn’t doing anything remotely sexual or threatening. Yet the students, many of them apparently feminists, are freaking out saying that the statue is “triggering” and talking as if the mere presence of a statue that looks like a man somehow makes their campus an unsafe place.

From the linked article:

Lisa Fischman, director of the art museum on campus, wrote an open letter to students explaining that, to her, the Matelli statue depicts a vulnerable, pathetic stranger. (He’s sleepwalking in his skivvies in the snow, after all.) But to the petition-signers, her point of view is apparently not worthy. One wrote that Ms. Fischman’s letter, like the sculpture itself, “should occupy a less intrusive place.”

Typical, anyone who disagrees with the offended ought to shut up. Now, I will say that I don’t find anything particularly noteworthy about the statue. Just because I’m an artist doesn’t mean I look at someone else’s work and automatically see the point. There is a lot of art where I don’t see the point, but I don’t see why this statue should be censored or put away. A child would not be worse for having seen it. It’s not like he’s naked or doing anything inappropriate.

I do wonder what these strong grrrls would do if they had, like me, had to take multiple figure drawing classes. Those classes aren’t split by gender and they can’t discriminate about the age, race, or sex of the models. I wasn’t happy about taking those classes and morally I’m not sure what they would be considered, but I muscled through it even though I had personal discomforts with the subject matter. Funny that an anti-feminist like me is a better example of strength than the feminists at Wellesley. Then again I took philosophy and learned that emotion has no place in intelligent discourse.

I also worked at a gallery which frequently had nude art on display. We didn’t have a trigger warning at the door and no one ever complained that I knew of. That kind of art has a long tradition, so no one is legitimately surprised about its presence in a gallery. If the students have trouble with that statue they better not walk into the gallery itself, because Matelli’s work only gets more intense and at times legitimately kind of horrifying.

And they better not walk into any gallery ever, come to think of it. Compare the above statue with these:

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence Source: Wikipedia

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. Source: Wikipedia

The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini Source: Wikipedia

The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Source: Wikipedia

These portray actual assaults in progress. Look at the expression on the women’s faces, how terrified they are. If one of these were placed on the women’s campus, I might agree that these are a little harsh to just walk past. However, there are a couple of differences here. Firstly, they are classic and no one gets to say classic art is obscene. Secondly, the men in this case are attractive.

So, I have two possible conclusions about the students of Wellesley. Either A) They are legitimately terrified by the first statue and therefore probably should not be pursuing college educations because they are not strong and independent women and ought to find themselves a nice husband to protect them from the big scary world or B) They simply find the man portrayed by the statue to be unattractive due to his appearance and helpless circumstances and therefore find it creepy and want it out of their sight, meaning they are lying and trying to use their “minority” status to get what they want.

Either way, we shouldn’t accommodate them. Which the art gallery apparently has no intention of doing.

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4 responses to “EG: Strong Grrrls and Triggering Statues

  • DJ

    Idk but I think walking passed that installation in the dark would definatly startle me , before I would realize it was a sculpture. Just a thought

    • allamagoosa

      Anything vaguely human sized and shaped will startle someone in the dark. Once you determine it isn’t a person it shouldn’t bother you anymore. Or does the campus also need to cut back bushes that are roughly human size too? The fact that it probably has startled passersby doesn’t necessitate it being taken down.

  • A feminist reader expresses her heartfelt thanks. | Sunshine Mary

    […] Next, consider what Allamagoosa has to say about Strong Grrrls and Triggering Statues. […]

  • Against Utu: against justice. | Dark Brightness

    […] It’s come to my attention (multiple times now) that the students at the all women’s college Wellesey are freaking out over the statue pictured above. As some of my readers may know, I graduated with an Art degree. As a result of that I know for a fact that this is not very obscene as far as art goes. He has his underwear on and isn’t doing anything remotely sexual or threatening. Yet the students, many of them apparently feminists, are freaking out saying that the statue is “triggering” and talking as if the mere presence of a statue that looks like a man somehow makes their campus an unsafe place. […]

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