Was it right to destroy Harvard's giant snow phallus?

Pictures are here.

This column gives the background. A 10-foot tall phallus made of snow and ice was erected at Harvard. Two women destroyed it. The columnist believes that it should have been knocked over because it was indecent and obscene, in the old-fashioned sense of the words. The perp had a different reason for knocking it over.

What do you think? Should this sculpture have been knocked down? If so, what would your reason be?

I have to say that the thread title alone made my day. :smiley:

Story, in case the WSJ link disapears.

And–if y’all are opening the links at work, watch out, 'cause it’s…um…not your ordinary everyday “snow phallus”, like a snowman with a “head” on top. This one’s “special”.

My take on it would be:

  1. That it’s an extremely anatomically explicit penis, veining and everything, so I can see where yeah, it might be offensive to some people and it probably wasn’t a good idea to construct it out there in front of God and everybody. More mature minds might have tucked it discreetly away behind the garage or something. Which brings me to…

  2. College kids. Feh. << shrug >> What can you do. I’d get more upset if this were put up, say, in the parking lot of Hickory Point Mall, but this thing was erected (heh) on the campus of a major university, where presumably grandmas and babies in strollers aren’t going to be spending much time, and where it may be assumed that everyone who’s there is an adult and won’t fall down in a fit of the vapors if they see a giant penis made out of snow.

  3. My biggest problem with the issue would be what is apparently everybody else’s problem at Harvard, that Amy and Mary didn’t consult anybody but simply rushed in and knocked it down, thus sparing everyone the horror of having to look at a giant snow penis with veining and everything. However, I would prefer to be allowed to make my own choices about stuff like this, and while I think that Amy and Mary had their hearts in the right places, maybe next time they should stop and think a bit before they go rushing in to edit “Life” for the rest of us. Which brings me to…

  4. Geez, how long did it take them to MAKE that thing? Hats off to a group of hard workers. Perhaps Amy and Mary should have taken that into consideration as well. And perhaps to less jingoistic minds the fact that the guys tried to stop them from knocking it down might simply mean that it took them a LONG time to build that puppy, and they were rightfully annoyed that two people who didn’t happen to like it were taking it upon themselves to knock it down.

  5. And this:

–sound to me like the words of a terribly earnest young woman who will hopefully lighten up a bit as the years roll on. She’s learned a lot of kneejerk pushbutton feminist reactions at school, but I consider myself a feminist and I don’t see an assertion of male dominance here–I just see an assertion of what a blast it is to be in college and to be allowed to do things that would get you locked up if you did them up at Hickory Point Mall.

So, anyway, “no”, it was not right to destroy it. It wasn’t theirs to destroy, and if they didn’t like it, or found it offensive, they should have gone through channels and had it removed.

I agree that it was offensive and possibly obscene but the only result of such political correctness is a nation of thin skinned people.

Right or wrong? If you erect (hee hee) any sort of large structure on a campus square made out of snow, expect it to get knocked down. The funny thing is that if the girls had just said something like, “We just thought it would be fun to knock it down,” they wouldn’t have caught much flak for it at all.

So who’s the real dickhead in this entire story? Someone got stiffed and I’m not sure which one it is.

It was lewd, crude, & rude.
The reason the girls gave sounds just plain dumb. (Does anybody really think like this? Yeesh.) I’m sure it was knocked down because of their gut reaction, which was…see above.

I don’t think they should have knocked it down. I think they should have gone somewhere else and created a giant Snow Vulva. DIffering reactions could have been very interesting from a political point of view.

Or maybe some kind of big Snow Venus of Willendorf.


1 - Thank you for the thread title. Made my day.,

2 -

 Does that really work?  :dubious:

I agree that nobody has the “right” to have their public snow sculpture treated as though it were private property, although I also agree it’s silly to claim that knocking it down is striking a blow for feminist liberation. Whether anatomically explicit erect phalluses are appropriate subjects for snow sculpture on a college campus is not something I have strong opinions on one way or the other.

As it happens, though, the issue of visual obscenity on campus property is a fairly tense one on many campuses right now. At the Ivy League university where I’m a faculty resident in one of the dorms, there is an official policy that students should not be putting explicitly obscene drawings and objects, etc., in public spaces. When (as frequently happens*) an anonymous student goes around the dorm drawing stiffies and boobies and snatchies at random on the dry-erase message boards on people’s doors), it’s considered inappropriate behavior and the undergraduate counselors have meetings with their residential units to discuss it and the graduate resident supervisor reports it to the deans, etc. etc.

In this context, I think it’s very possible that the Harvard snow artists were just trying to be pricks, so to speak, and annoy a lot of people who they knew perfectly well would consider such a sculpture genuinely offensive. I still think the iconoclasts’ claims of defending themselves against evil male-supremacist intimidation are silly, however. At most, they might have said “Some of the boys were trying to annoy us with an obscene sculpture, so we emasculated it.”

  • Until I moved back onto a college campus seventeen years after I graduated from college, I had absolutely no notion how common it is for late-adolescent males** just to go around drawing pictures of stiffies and boobies and snatchies on any available surface. I mean, there have been times when such doodles seem to be appearing every other day or so in my dorm. I’ll tell you, it’s really changed my perspective on paleoanthropology: now, every time I read something about a figurine or cave drawing excavated at an archaeological site showing an erect phallus or a female figure with massive breasts and talking about how these must represent some ancient fertility cult, I think to myself “yeah right, it was probably just some horny boy drawing stiffies and boobies and snatchies.”

** Of course, I have no way of knowing that all such doodlers are male, but all the ones who’ve been identified are; it seems to be, at least predominantly, a guy thing.

Kimstu: too bad the -lithic (paleo and neo) ice sculptures didn’t survive. They might have been better made, for all we know.

[18th Century Man / Modern Feminist] Women are delicate and easily upset by suggestive displays of unbridled manhood.[ECM/MF]

Hmmmm… footnotes to footnotes. Kimtsu, you are David Foster Wallace, and I claim my £5.

“Uncomfortable environment”. Well, I suppose it might be a bit uncomfortable if you were to sit on it. Cold, at least.

Very silly reasoning indeed. These women would no doubt object to maypole dancing in England, or in India to Shiva lingas. How’s about the Washington Monument?

C’mon, willies are funny.

What a load of bullshit. How can a sane person really believe that that this somehow was a monument to male dominance? Maybe if it was shown towering over a small snow-woman or something, maybe, but just a shlong by itself? Stupid fucks.

matt_mcl had the right idea, the proper response would have been to make a snow-snatch. One much bigger than the snow-shlong. And with teeth.

The link isn’t working now, but I read it before.

The last quote of the crimson article is my favorite. It says something to the effect of “College students tend to overanalyze things.” Understatement of the century.

They should have destroyed the balls, and left the penis intact. That would have made their point, and been humerous.

[sub]Another vote for “Thread title of the month” :-D[/sub]

Please, please, please

Do NOT let these women anywhere near a copy of Clifford Geertz’s Interpretations of Culture and especially do not let them read the chapter on cockfighting in Bali. If one big snow penis gets them riled up, the full implications of what Balinese cockfighting entails will cause their heads to literally explode.

According to the Crimson article, they thought about it:

Well, duh, of course they would be construed differently. That would have been the interesting part.

Oh well, I guess it’s too much to expect the hyperearnest and hypersensitive to do anything interesting. Hopefully they’ll lighten up as they get older.

And with a big sign next to it saying “FRIGID!”

I’m going to chop the willy off the huge reproduction of Michaelangelo’s David in Sarasota. Iconoclasts unite, emasculate your male statuary oppressers! [/ECM / MF]

Ivy-League intellectuals aren’t the only ones capable of such hypersensitivity – you can also find it out in the heartland:


Now, you may expect more tolerance at Harvard than in a small town in Ohio. And you might be justified.

But I just wanted to add some balance – it seemed everybody was piling on these uptight Harvards like a bunch of Yalies.