Looks as if there is an example of an ironical backlash against sassy misandrist feminism in Florida. The University of Florida seems to view it as historical folk art to be preserved for future generations.
And rightly so, at least it is an illustration of young men’s sophisticated sense of humour if not of artistic use of the very much restricted inventory of methods of writing on a concrete wall.
If we go a bit into the analysis of the use of design as message, we notice first of all the strange exchange of sides in the listing of the 10 reasons. To start at the right and continue on the left just cannot be missed by even the most inattentive viewer. This provocation is set as the base reaction of the reading experience.
However subconscious its ramifications, one cannot not be taken aback just by this simple trick of countering the cultural norm of writing and reading from the left to the right, not just in the flow of the letters within words and words within sentences but in the layout of a page with two or more columns of text as well. Children do these things, they use space as it comes, not at all shying away from breaking any rules adults would handle as strict norms to abide by. So the breaking of a perceptive habit is the onset of the affection elicited by the graffiti text layout. In the metaphorical transference we are challenged to look at the issue of the topic from the other side, which is the wrong one, the one where we usually would not get the meaning of a writing, unless we are familiar with or have our origin in an exotic culture.
The two columns of “reasons” which are seemingly offensive statements of entitlement to dominate and instrumentalize the other sex are of distinct difference in their relation to the – assumed – sex of the artist.
On the right side which is the right in all the various meanings of the term we have a man’s assertion of his archaic and archetypical position toward woman. He is the provider, the protector, the educator, the supervisor, the lord, the leader, the guide, the priest, the spiritual, moral and political authority of woman who is his helpmate in mastering the world.
On the left, which again is the left, the left not the right, the left in all its usages of the term, and we are coerced to take note of this fact by the very arrangement of the list, the character of the arguments for the preference of dogs over women is of a different quality than before on the right.
We need to think of ideology and politics, in this moment.
On the left we encounter reasons no real man would come up with. A metro-sexual, a bisexual, a homophiliac man is needed to put any significant weight into these points. Actually they are the typical interests and criteria of a woman in evaluating a potential boyfriend, not of a man thinking of a girlfriend. And augmenting that obvious sudden change of perspective is the development of the content of the reasons, which becomes wanton and pathetic as the progression runs up to the last three.
But what is the new baseline, reason number 6? “Parents approve” it says. So we do not see a switch from a man’s instinctive perspective to a woman’s instincts in the direct sense of immediate relation to a man, but on a woman’s, in the case here obviously of a young woman’s, a girl’s perspective, a child’s, relations to her social environment as a whole. What do my parents approve of or not? The message is that girls are acting dependent on the approval of their parents in matters of romantic relations.
And we again are coerced, set up by design, to take extra note of exactly this specific characterization of the female sex in contrast to the male. The method for calling on our attention is the beginning of the numbering from the bottom which adds a second stimulus of bewilderment to the first of the beginning with the right column and the continuing with the left.
It is not only that we now are confronted with the other sex’s view but we are also told the female sex starts at the bottom of things and works its way up from there to the top. And the bottom for the female perspective is stated as dependency on social recognition, normativity, the following of rules and regulations which is rewarded by good reputation, by acceptance and belonging and good standing within the social group.
With this switch of the perspective of the sexes from the right to the left, with the extra design trick of starting the enumeration from the bottom, so actually with the switch from the right to the left and from the top-down sequence to the bottom-up, a double reversal of cultural habits of presentation and perception, we are given a comprehensive teaching on the complimentary relationship of the sexes and on their idiosyncracies responsible for it. In short, the assertion of authority complimented by the investment in dependency.
It is the charisma of artists and the blessing of art that spiritual, psychical and philosophical as well as anthropological constancies are presented in a condensed fashion of multiple implications, and at the same time put in relation to cultural, social and political conditions of the current times, or of an era of civilization’s development.
The graffiti on 34th Street is an illustration of this inherent quality of art which justifies its existence and recognition as relevant and worthy of our attention.
Its incorporation into the digital collection of UF is in accordance with its eminence as expression of one of the central issues of the present and the sensitive diagnosis of the emerging backlash against the totalitarian manifestation of feminarcissism as feminist discourse and policy.
That a university takes such a piece of art as fit to be collected and archived speaks of due responsibility for the documentation of social history unfolding in instances of intuitive assertion of the fundamentals of anthropological givens and assessment of the political deviance of society from the human ground.
What about the reception of the political art of the street by the greater public addressed by it?
As we can see, the young men who are proud to be aware of the disaster feminism brings on society have a hard time to grasp the intricate implications of the artistic design rendering it a piece of streetwise enlightenment. They do rather demonstrate the lack of humour so typical of people who think they have found a salvaging point of view on social dilemmas and rationalize their dogmatic tunnel vision as virtuous impatience with the evil.
Eager to take a work of street art for a mere pamphlet of sexist propaganda, be it of or against the meanstream of the mainstream, one is not only prone to miss the inspirations which make art art and relevant, but a zealot’s rush into action where nothing is to be achieved but an embarrassing impression is the unwarranted response speaking of foolishness.
We ought to remember that automatic reactions contra something are not of another category from that which made the opposed evil predominant – blind activism is the source of feminism as of any dogmatic belief system of class victimhood and selfrighteous blame games.
How glorious it is to pose as a rebel against oppression! Especially if one is out to liberate others. Which seems to be the chivalrous virtue of the redditors. Are they iconoclasts? After all, their wrath’s target is an item in a catalogue, nothing more. The last commenter seems to get it in the end. As if he would justify the original posting on top of the page, the round is run, we are back where we started, the odd style of the graffiti, the reverse ordering of the direction of writing is mirrored somehow. Vexation.
The full of it? Images are merely images. Images can lie. As written words, images of speech. Or images of images of speech. Are we right to trust the images?
To check suspicions, try here!