Women's Group Debates Snow Penis

Lucy F.V. Lindsey

AMY E. KEEL '04 (r), ELEANOR J. HONIG '4 (c), and REBECCAH G. WATSON '04 (l) participate in an RUS discussion of the gender issues surrounding the recent erection of a snow phallus in Tercentenary Theater.

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 penis...is 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.