White House security staffers will be clamoring to work on April 21, 2017. Or maybe they won’t. That’s the day a giant sculpture of a vagina is scheduled to be delivered to the White House. (Wow, talk about sentences you never thought you’d write.) It's not a joke, it's a weird; kitschy misguided message.
Please, please watch the explainer video. I don't want you to go another second without seeing dancing labia.
A giant vagina filled with letters to President Trump is being sent to the White House pic.twitter.com/2YkydwVnlz— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 22, 2017
Actually, the vagina is just the messenger, the messages inside will come from women all around the world as part of Mogul’s #ReadMyLips campaign. The online news/community platform has been inviting women and men everywhere to write, via an online form, telling President Trump what they’d like to see regarding women’s health and rights over the next four years. Mogul will print the messages and deliver them, gift wrapped so to speak, to the president’s front door.
Considering the unwelcome attention vaginas have been enjoying, social media reaction to #ReadMyLips is surprisingly negative. Perhaps that’s because on some level we all know that it’s sending a mixed message.
While professing to provide a voice to women, the campaign is drawing attention to the wrong body part; women should be heard and valued because of what comes out of their mouth, not their genitals. Even if you want to celebrate the vajayjay’s appreciable gift of conveying mini-humans, it’s counterproductive to do so as a catalyst for discussing equality since it undermines those who can’t, don’t or won’t have children.
Mogul founder Michelle Wen told Allure, "By having the statue as this shape, it empowers women to be proud of their sexuality and bodies." But if any of us were able to stand in front of Trump and deliver our message, would we really want him thinking about our lady garden at the same time? Please say no. Anatomy and important ideas: separate, but equal.
Watching the video made me wonder if the whole thing is a joke. After all, Mogul’s website touts that the designers of the sculpture are SNL veterans and the work is being done by Dan Castelli, the show’s former specialty prop fabricator.
And Mogul VP Bethany Heinrich seems almost theatrical as she describes the effort as “Classy, classy, classy, I can’t express classy enough.” You mean like Ron Burgundy classy or Jackie O classy? It’s also antithetical to feminist demands for equality. If a group of men did a similar thing to Hillary Clinton, they’d be rousted, vilified, run out of town.
Heinrich explains, “We wanted this to be a gift that he would be excited about receiving.” I don’t need to explain why it’s gross for a man who jokes about groping to receive a vagina as a gift. Let’s send one to every frat house and locker room, while we're at it.
The campaign has primarily been targeted at millennials and promoted by universities so I have to ask myself — am I just being a grouchy old bag? Maybe it’s all good fun — something to lighten up the most fractious year we’ve seen in a long time. I still can’t reconcile it, though.
One thing I will concede is that the messages being submitted by women via Mogul’s website are important and cross generations. A 13-year-old wrote about safety for women of color. A 25-year-old designer wrote about how cuts to arts funding will affect her career. A woman who declined to state her age wrote encouragement to Ivanka Trump to use the platform she’s been given.
And I do know that messages often go down better with a dose of humor. That's why late-night monologues about politics go viral and C-SPAN clips don’t. And Mogul seems to be perfectly earnest in pursuing that end. “I just hope this will drive the point home for him, in a good, fun way. And I hope that he has a sense of humor,” said Heinrich. Though I think Trump’s virulent Twitter responses to SNL sketches kind of address that.
But at the end of the day, there is a very real concern for some women who want to campaign for equality but don’t want to be characterized as an angry shrew. The answer to that is to communicate with respect and intelligence, to support women breaking barriers, not to nudge elbows with the boy’s club. 'Boys will be boys' is a standard that reduces men, and girlfriends, we have to be careful not to sink to it too.
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