The IWF’s own Cathy Seipp alerts us to this post on Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess blog about the efforts of warpath-feminists in Venice, Calif., to prevent a sculpture of a nude female torso from being placed in a commercial-zone traffic circle.
The chief protestors? You guessed it–militant fems who consider the stainless-steel sculpture sexist. As Los Angeles Times writer Diane Haithman reports:
“Real estate agent Sylviane Dungan is among those seeking to block the sculpture.
“‘I have owned my house in Venice, a block from the Windward Circle, for 24 years, and I lived in it for 14 years,’ Dungan writes in her appeal to the city. ‘I deplore the representation of a woman as a headless bust, a shiny sexual object.'”
The story is funny on a lot of levels: The as-yet-unfinished female torso is by Robert Graham, a respected Venice artist in the classical style who eschews both the abstract nature and the in-your-face ugliness of most avant-gard art and specializes in the beautiful human form. He sculpted the acclaimed and reverent bronze doors (featuring clothed figures) of Los Angeles’s new Catholic cathedral, as well as a series of nude torsos for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Furthermore, Venice, a longtime (and until recently, scruffy) artists’ community on the Pacific Ocean, is famous for the amount of flesh its residents and visitors display while bikini-skateboarding and topless-sunbathing. Indeed, back in the Sixties, until a public nudity ban was passed during the 1970s, the denizens of Venice’s beaches wore exactly as much clothing as Graham’s planned sculpture.
Some of the protestors are evangelical Christians, including a minister’s wife who says that her office window at the church, where she counsels troubled women, would afford a view of the sculpted torso’s backside. But, as Haithman reports:
“Several vocal objectors complained that the proposed headless, armless woman represented a misogynistic symbol of anonymity, as well as violence against women.
“The objectors are not the first to charge Graham with degrading women. In 1994, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker was awarded a Graham-designed statuette of a nude female torso for being a California ‘state treasure.’
“Walker, who had just completed a book and a film about female genital mutilation, was outraged. ‘Imagine my horror when… I was presented with a decapitated, armless, legless woman on which my name hung from a chain,’ she told the San Francisco Chronicle.”
Well, gee–if Alice Walker disapproves of something, I guess we’d better ban it!
While I’ve got some sympathy for the minister’s wife, Graham, as the Advice Goddess points out, is no Andres Serrano (don’t click if you don’t want to look at Serrano’s urine-submerged crucifix). As she asks: “[D]o you really think all the bazillions of headless busts created throughout history are a plot against women?”
Unfortunately, I think I know how the rad-fems would answer that one. Next target: the Venus de Milo. She doesn’t have any arms or legs, either.