New monument is too phallic with all these vulvas around

Without passing judgement on the wisdom of Vancouver city planners, this is not the sort of story I was expecting to read this morning:

A tiny Vancouver park is at the centre of a monument war, pitting backers of a proposed monument to Irish Canadians against activists who feel its dominant “phallic” nature would violate the integrity of an existing Montreal Massacre memorial.

“Placing the [Ireland Canada Monument] design 80 feet from the women’s monument, which has vulva shapes engraved in the top of each of the 14 sarcophagi forms, is inappropriate and will be seen to be a violation by supporters,” wrote Chris McDowell, an activist and second-generation Irish Canadian who led a seven-year campaign to build the Marker of Change.

And with this, I believe I can claim the crown of first contributor here to use the word ‘vulva’ in the title of a post.

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28 thoughts on “New monument is too phallic with all these vulvas around

  1. Oy. Just because the penis happens to be pillar-shaped does not mean all pillars represent phalluses (phalli?).

    But if the laughably uninspired Irish monument is close enough to the vulvas to cause immature folks (like Schilling and, oh, sure, me) to crack jokes, then maybe they should find a better locations or, better yet, a more creative design. Hell, they’re making use of Celtic knots in, why not make the whole damn thing a Celtic knot? (I’d suggest a bottle of Guinness, but beer bottles are obviously a phallic symbol, too–why else would hundreds of millions of straight men put them to their lips each year?)

    On the plus side, it’s always comforting to be reminded that Canada is every bit as silly as the U.S. You Canooks do give us a bit of an inferiority complex now and then.


  2. I’m not really sure I understand why the best way to memorialize murdered women is with sarcophagi with vulva images carved into them in the first place. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a little reductive.


    • This is a good thought. One of the feminist criticisms against porn is its focus on the sex organs, and how that reduces women to nothing more than an object of sexual desire, a vehicle for reproduction. So even though the intent here is not to represent women as objects of sexual desire, it seems a bit awkward.

      On the other hand, there is another strand of feminism that very actively celebrates the female role in reproduction, women as the life-givers, women as being more intimately related to Gaia, by virtue of their common reproductive capacities. I would be inclined to think that the designer of the monument came from the latter approach.


      • I guess they could have. What made me a bit uncomfortable was the thought that the Montreal murderer came at women from the former perspective. So, it seemed a bit crass. But I think probably this is a good time to look up the artist’s intent.


        • Yeah, okay- according to the public art registry, they’re actually benches and the ‘depression’ at the top collects rainwater, which is a reference to tears. Interestingly, the most controversial aspect of the project was the engraving that it was dedicated to ‘all women who have been murdered by men.’


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