Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taking A Ride In A Vagina

image Every where we look there are phallic images in architecture because we have uplifted masculinity as good and normal.  Even in my small city of Niagara Falls we have the Skylon Tower which I consider to be the big penis watching over the city.  Just a few minutes away in the city of St. Catherines, Ontario we have the Schmon Tower at Brock University which stands guard over our institute of higher learning.  What every city seems to need is a pseudo cod piece reaching bravely into the sky.

Rarely do we see the vagina or images symbolic of the vulva as part of our landscape.   Unless it is on display for the sexual titillation of masculinity the vagina is considered to exist without beauty or power.  It is a thing to be possessed even as it is maligned at every opportunity.  

A Finnish artist noticed this trend and sought to normalize images of the vagina by creating a bike taxi in the shape of a vagina.

image Mimosa Pale refers to her work as a “Mobile Female Monument”.   One simply needs to crawl inside the vaginal opening to tour around the city. 

When I first saw this image it gave me a moments pause.  I wholeheartedly agree with Pale that the vagina is under represented in comparison to phallic symbols, however this kind of imagery does not counter the hegemony.  The fact that a passenger must crawl inside it once again reifies the concept of the vagina as existing for penetration and thereby consumption.  Unlike the phallic symbols that we see, this vagina has been put into service thereby once again proving that a penis need simply exist to be of value whereas anything associated with womanhood must justify its existence to be deemed socially relevant.

When we consider how we can change the dichotomy between male and female we must consider how any new images may be read by the casual onlooker.  If we find that we are simply repeating understandings that are already common in our discourse it is a fruitless effort. If we are going to normalize the vagina and create it as equally powerful to our current phallic images, it must stand alone and proudly proclaim its presence without being forced to labour in the service of others.  



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