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Fundamentalism And Femininny Extremism Hit Venice Beach
The church ladies and the ladies with mustaches have joined hands to howl about public nudity -- in the form of a nude statue by sculptor Robert Graham that was slated to be put up on Windward Circle (I'd assume, in the middle of the traffic turnaround at the end of Main Street).

If you have dinner at The Globe (in the old 72 Market Street location, oyster happy hour, 5-7pm), totter down to the end of the block and peer through the gates of Graham's studio (north side of Market Street, corner of Speedway). You'll see he's not exactly the Andres Serrano of Venice. If anything, Graham's sculptures, which I find kind of a yawn, are reminiscent of Degas'.

Nevertheless, it appears that the "concerned citizens" above are all atwitter about this shocking proposal of artistic exposure. Apparently, they don't spend much time on the boardwalk on the weekends, where they should be protesting all the nudity by all the last people you'd ever want to see naked. Diane Haithman reports in the LA Times:

Real estate agent Sylviane Dungan is among those seeking to block the sculpture.

"I have owned my house in Venice, a block from the Windward Circle, for 24 years, and I lived in it for 14 years," Dungan writes in her appeal to the city. "I deplore the representation of a woman as a headless bust, a shiny sexual object."

Hey, Sylviane, do you really think all the bazillions of headless busts created throughout history are a plot against women? Is this one a plot against men?

One woman's conspiracy is another woman's cheesecake

Next, the Times' Haithman discovers furrowed brows all around:

The petition drew enough community concern that the March 12 sushi restaurant meeting was schedule,

"Was schedule"?

I seem to remember the LA Times' David Shaw huffing something about his pieces getting vetted by at least four experienced editors before getting turned into birdcage liner, uh, going into print. Were all four of Haithman's experienced editors asleep at the time?

Haithman digs into a few of the mixed nuts in attendance:

The meeting included some of the town's most colorful regulars: homeless activist "Dr. John" Michel with his long white beard and a hatband printed with marijuana leaves;

Haithman forgets to mention his omnipresent wooden staff; a tall (6 ft?), log-like pole, complete with American flag attached at one end; besides his beard, the most noticeable thing about him. Perhaps she saw him while seated, because in my unfortunate experience, the guy doesn't go to the bathroom without it. Worse, he spends a great deal of time marching back and forth through the local hippie haus of coffee and slamming it on the floor repeatedly -- as if we wouldn't notice a guy who looks like Father Time at a Vietnam War protest without the sound effects.

But, enough local color. By now, you must be in the mood for a little more shrieking from the feminists. (Ladies, shouldn't you be home shaving your legs or something?)

Several vocal objectors complained that the proposed headless, armless woman represented a misogynistic symbol of anonymity, as well as violence against women.

The objectors are not the first to charge Graham with degrading women. In 1994, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker was awarded a Graham-designed statuette of a nude female torso for being a California "state treasure."

Walker, who had just completed a book and a film about female genital mutilation, was outraged. "Imagine my horror when … I was presented with a decapitated, armless, legless woman on which my name hung from a chain," she told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Regina Weller, Venice Foursquare Church administrator and the pastor's wife, complained that from the office window of the church on Riviera Avenue "we would see her backside. I work with women in recovery, and no matter what, it's a naked torso of a woman."

And we all know, one look at a naked torso of a woman can cause crack use, blindness, and death!

How come nobody's ever in recovery from being a really big idiot?

UPDATE: More at this Independent Women's Forum link, by Charlotte Allen.

Posted by aalkon at April 21, 2005 9:44 AM

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When are these boring, tasteless, moralistic, old farts going to shut their mouths and leave us in peace? I agree the statue is boring. I would suggest a well-endowed, full frontal, Greek male nude, ex-figleaf. It may help these shrivelled, frigid, tarts have the orgasm their husbands have obviously failed to supply.

Posted by: R.J. Adams at April 21, 2005 11:03 AM

Objectification again? When will feminists realize that having a body that is seriously impressive gives them nearly unlimited 'empowerment' over men if they choose to take it.

By the way Amy, excellent, excellent column this week.

Posted by: Little ted at April 21, 2005 11:26 AM

Thank you, dahlingk. Do you mean the one on the front of the site, or do you read me in the paper where you are?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 21, 2005 12:12 PM

1) These people have too much time on their hands.
2) They *all* need to get laid (by someone who knows what s/he is doing).
3) *Everyone* has a body. What is the big f*cking deal?
4) It's like violence vs. sex on TV and in the movies. Blow their heads, off, fine, but don't f* them whatever you do! Whatever happened to "make love not war"?

I used to get embarrassed as a child when my grandmother would take my measurements while I was in my slip. She would say, "Honey, you don't have anything I don't have more of!"

Posted by: Goddyss at April 21, 2005 12:41 PM

looks like a man to me.

Posted by: mimi at April 21, 2005 2:15 PM

Mimi...that was the point. I took a liberty with using "cheesecake" when "beefcake" would have been more appropriate. The point is, feminists see discrimination where there's merely...a sculptor trying to make a living without working as an accountant. Robert Graham, who is Mexican, is the last person you'd think of as a woman hater. Haven't you ever met any Latin men? You'd be lucky to find one.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 21, 2005 2:34 PM

You know, the first week the new incarnation of A Current Affair was broadcast, I had a tiny little story about Laguna Beach banning nude public art. Cute story.
This week, we shot the Venice ban. I'm hoping to travel the country, indeed the world, doing bans on nude art. I figure it's my new career.

Posted by: KateCoe at April 21, 2005 4:36 PM

This post reminds me - Amy, did you blog on the death of one of your favorite feminists, Andrea Dworkin?

Posted by: Jeff R at April 21, 2005 4:54 PM

Unfortunately, Kate, it's probably a lucrative one!

I didn't get to blog on Andrea, but I've been meaning to link again to the recent piece I wrote on how feminism has ruined relationships, of which she is a prominent part. Anyway, I've been going through assistants like socks these past few weeks. My WONDERFUL assistant Allison is very, very, very pregnant. Hiring somebody now for Monday. I hope. The problem is, thinking and reasoning seem to be a lost art. Literacy, also, is another rare antique. If I didn't live on the first floor, I would have thrown myself out the window during my last deadline. Unfortunately, being as close to the ground as I am, I would merely have been embarrassed.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 21, 2005 5:06 PM

Laguna Beach banning nude public art? I have been away a long, long time. It used to be a great place to go and get some outdoor fun, especially the gazebo.

At least I still have my signed picture of Eilar Larsen over my computer... God I miss Ginas Pizza!

Posted by: eric at April 21, 2005 8:05 PM

I'd like to see less nude public art because most of it is just so cheesy and boring. You want public displays of real beauty? Walk about a block west of Windward Circle to the beach, and check out the young black and latino guys playing basketball in the midday sun.

Posted by: Lena at April 21, 2005 10:51 PM

I meant the column on the front of the site, I haven't had a chance to pick up the newsweekly that carries your column in a few weeks.

Posted by: Little ted at April 22, 2005 10:35 AM

What ever happened to "make love, not war?" In my trips to the US these past few years, I never hear that expression anymore. It has been replaced by "have sex"! How horrible a way to describe to make love! I imagine someone in a restaurant being asked what they have chosen on the menu answering, "I'll just have sex", to which the waitress would ask: "raw, rare or well done?"

There is another word commonly used in the English (American?) language nowadays that really irritates me. It is "female" to designate a woman, a girl or a... lady - the last one I imagine to be on the extinction list.

Frania W.

Posted by: Frania W. at April 22, 2005 11:01 PM

'I imagine someone in a restaurant being asked what they have chosen on the menu answering, "I'll just have sex", to which the waitress would ask: "raw, rare or well done?" '

Actually, Frania, when someone in a restaurant asks me for my order, I usually just reply, "Fuck me." And they don't even have to ask: They know I want it raw.

Posted by: Lena-doodle-doo at April 23, 2005 12:41 AM

'Alice Walker was ... was outraged. "Imagine my horror when … I was presented with a decapitated, armless, legless woman on which my name hung from a chain,"

Horror? I think girlfriend's dreadlocks are wound up just a little too tightly. After all, the armless, legless woman still had titties, right?

Posted by: Lena at April 23, 2005 11:26 AM

Alice Walker should just be glad somebody's giving her prizes and shut the hell up.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 23, 2005 11:41 AM

As a bisexual, I know the difference between a man's chest and woman's chest, and that, without a doubt, is a man's chest.

Posted by: D. Mulberry at May 4, 2005 10:09 AM

As a non-blind woman, so do I!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 4, 2005 10:31 AM

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