Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art Imitates Life

Noor Abed's public art installation, Rotten, in the making at Ramallah's Manarah Square. Courtesy Noor Abed

From Ramallah in Occupied Palestine comes the interesting story of 21-year-old artist Noor Abed, who got tired of comments and catcalls from men on the street and decided to see if she could do a little consciousness-raising with art. FTA in the UAE paper, The National:
Ms Abed decided to place a mannequin in a long white dress in Manara Square in central Ramallah. Then, with two male colleagues, she urged passersby to write comments on the dress. She asked them to write what they might have thought had they seen a woman walking down the street in similar attire.

The comments veered between corny and outright filthy. But almost all had as a common thread: sex, or the desire for it.
Sex is universal. The desire for it is universal. But the expression of that desire varies from culture to culture, and has historically been oppressive to women and those whose sexuality differs from the norm.

Sex advice columnist Dan Savage, an icon of our queer community, talks to the parent of a gay adolescent and advises him to treat his gay son like a daughter:
You should also regard your son, at least through his adolescence, as more of a daughter to you than a son. We tend to be more protective of our daughters — our straight daughters —than we are of our sons. Why? A sexist desire to keep our daughters “pure”? That’s a part of it, sure, but there’s also this: Men are pigs, and people on the receiving end of male sexual desire and attention are in more danger than people on the receiving end of female sexual desire and attention. (In general — individual results may vary.) Testosterone is the crystal meth of hormones, a badass drug, and men are more likely to be abusive and violent. The prevalence of HIV among gay men makes the stakes higher for your son. So don’t allow him to date anyone you don’t get to meet and approve of, and don’t confuse “being supportive” with “letting him do whatever/whomever he wants.” Be active, be engaged, and never stop being his meddling, interfering, hypersuspicious dad.
Kudos to Danny for voicing those sentiments, and kudos to Ms. Abed also for her courageous art!

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