Two Adult Women Willingly Posting Nude Shocked to Hear Word “Pussy”
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 29, 2018): Seattle University has banned from its place of honor a self portrait valued at $35,000 by renowned artist Chuck Close because of two allegations of sexual misconduct, neither of which amounted to a criminal or civil wrong, nor even to sexual assault or harassment, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
Seattle said it was “concerned about potential student, faculty, or staff reaction” in replacing it with a work by a lesser-known artist who happens to be female.
In both cases the allegations were made by women who were not employees (so the conduct doesn’t constitute sexual harassment) nor subject to any professional pressures by the famed artist (so it arguably wasn’t even an abuse of power), and both had agreed to take off their clothing and pose nude alone with him in his studio.
The gross sexual misconduct which allegedly required the removal of a completely unrelated and very valuable painting is that he uttered to word “pussy” in their presence.
But the word “pussy,” in its secondary meaning as related to the female sex organ, has been used proudly by thousands of woman who stridently wore “pussy hats” while often chanting “pussy power” in recent demonstrations which were viewed by millions of young children, and even discussed with them by their grade school teachers. It is a phrase also routinely used by major newspapers, and on radio and television where very young children are exposed to it, and even in serious academic papers and articles.
While some women may not agree with these sentiments, or choose not to use the word themselves, it is hard to see how simply uttering this widely-used word in their presence, even to refer to them, constitutes such grievous sexual misconduct that the artist’s paintings must be vanished from public sight to avoid “reactions” by a small number of apparently very sensitive students or faculty.
As “Sex In The City,” many articles by feminists, and common sense as well as ordinary observation make very clear, the days when adult women were deemed so frail, sheltered, and sensitive that they would be shocked and offended to hear so-called cuss words – much less words related to sex but in widespread use such as “pussy” – have long since passed, argues Banzhaf.
Making the claims of sexual harassment even more bizarre is that the chief complainant agreed to get undressed and pose nude alone in his studio even after hearing him use the word “pussy” in a manner which might be deemed sexually derogatory.
According to the Huffington Post, which actually termed him “A F**king Pervert,” “Close began their session by telling [complainant] about another woman he’d photographed – nude – whose print hung on his wall. ‘He was saying, ‘Oh, if you could have seen her pussy,’ talking about how it was so hot and he fucked her.'”
Although the complainant said that “the comments made her feel uncomfortable and confused,” she nevertheless agreed to likewise pose nude for him. Having just heard him use the word “pussy” regarding another woman who had posed for him and that “he fucked her,” before the complainant herself undressed and began to pose nude, makes her claim that she was so shocked to subsequently hear the word “pussy” (but not “fucked”) used regarding her that she was shocked, and as a result suffered some kind of sexual harassment.
Making these claims of sexual misconduct even more bizarre is that Close has used a wheelchair since 1988 and, because of a seizure as a result of a collapsed spinal artery, has only very limited use of his arms and legs. So, obviously neither woman could have any realistic fear that he would sexually assault her, even though she was nude alone in a studio with him. This is clearly relevant, since many other women in reported #metoo situations cited these concerns even though they were not nude.
Moreover, two major reasons for applying a separate and much stricter “reasonable woman” standard in sexual harassment situations, rather than the generally accepted “reasonable man” or “reasonable person” standard used n so many other situations such as negligence, malpractice, etc., is that women can reasonably fear rape by men, and that men might use their greater strength and speed to sexually assault women.
That’s why, for example, a claim by an adult male that he suffered sexual harassment when a male or female artist complemented him on his “cock” or “prick” while he was posing nude would never be seriously entertained, maintains Banzhaf.
Indeed, these concerns about possible sexual assault were expressed in many of the other #metoo situations, but they are obviously not applicable here. These two adult, young, and physically fit women clearly had no fear of being chased, overpowered, and sexually assaulted by a partially paralyzed man in a wheelchair.
Banzhaf says that he would gladly take this Close painting, which Seattle believes is irrevocably tainted, off their hands, as well as paintings by Dali, Picasso, and Pollock in the possession of others who now are reluctant to display them because of even stronger allegations of sexual misconduct which have been made against the artists.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH),
2000 H Street, NW, Wash, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418
http://banzhaf.net/ jbanzhaf3ATgmail.com @profbanzhaf