Boston, MA — In an essay original essay for The Guardian entitled ‘Upward-thrusting buildings ejaculating light into the night sky,’ Leslie Kern, who serves as the Associate Professor of Geography and Environment and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University, discussed just how difficult city life is for women.
For the record, it’s not the first article from a “feminist geography” perspective. There’s an entire academic journal, Gender, Place & Culture, devoted to the subject.
In her recent book entitled Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Mad World, Kern states:
“We live in the city of men. Our public spaces are not designed for female bodies. There is little consideration for women as mothers, workers or carers. The urban streets often are a place of threats rather than community. Gentrification has made the everyday lives of women even more difficult. What would a metropolis for working women look like? A city of friendships beyond Sex and the City. A transit system that accommodates mothers with strollers on the school run. A public space with enough toilets. A place where women can walk without harassment.
She continues saying, “From the physical to the metaphorical, the city is filled with reminders of masculine power…and yet we rarely talk of the urban landscape as an active participant in gender inequality”:
A building, no matter how phallic, isn’t actually misogynist, is it? Surely a skyscraper isn’t responsible for sexual harassment, the wage gap, or even the glass ceiling, whether it has a literal one up top or not?”
And yet even the height and shape of a building reflects “patterns of gender-based discrimination,” she says, citing a female architecture professor who described skyscrapers as “rape” in 1977:
The office tower, [Dolores Hayden] wrote, is one more addition “to the procession of phallic monuments in history – including poles, obelisks, spires, columns and watchtowers”, where architects un-ironically use the language of “base, shaft and tip” while drawing upward-thrusting buildings ejaculating light into the night sky.”
Did you catch that?
Kern’s professorial writing is but a fancy way of saying what this former middle school teacher overhead walking past a small but immature group of middle school boys at a cafeteria table.
Filmmaker Mike Nayna, who shot the forthcoming documentary on the “grievance studies” project that embarrassed Gender, Place & Culture, and other credulous academic journals, tweeted that Kern’s essay shows she has been “hypnotized” by “a fixed theoretical lens” at odds with reality.
The journal that honoured the dog park paper is the leading "feminist" geography journal, & this perplexing article recently published by the Guardian is written by a "feminist" geographer. This isn't feminism, it's Gender Studies with feminism branding. 2/3 pic.twitter.com/P4bxjUIrnv
— Mike Nayna (@MikeNayna) July 8, 2020
But much of Kern’s essay isn’t about “architectural phallocentrism,” but rather describes purportedly sex- and class-based decisions in urban designing that dates back to the Industrial Revolution. For example, New York’s “Ladies Mile,” which is a stretch of shops designed in the late 19th century to mitigate “high-status white women’s exposure to the messy public realm.”
Kern argues that our society’s constructed environments can still reflect the patters of gender-based discrimination.
Simply put and, given the issues currently facing Americans, many would find the discussion of sexism in architecture and geography, at best, trivial.
One of her solutions is, oddly, sex segregation. Rather than find inclusive ways to accommodate both men and women, she applauds women-only areas.
Perhaps they should join urban planners and architects to design buildings, transit, and the like in ways that can’t be described as “phallic.” Instead of “mean streets and dark alleys,” we bring laughter and illumination both literally and metaphorically to our cities.
We are seeing this play out across our nation now as it relates to race. College campuses are not creating dorms and, when their education is complete, allowing separate graduation ceremonies for black students.
Perhaps there is something to be said about giving equal attention and consideration by renaming or “erecting” new roads and statues named after and in honor of women? But on a list of 10 vital things facing American’s today, this is probably 21st.
Greg Piper is the Associate Editor at The College Fix said that “one of her solutions is, oddly, sex segregation: Kern praises women-only carriages on Tokyo trains. But she wouldn’t be an intersectional scholar if she didn’t jump on the defund-the-police bandwagon:
“Transfer that money to affordable housing, childcare and public transport, all of which would dramatically improve women’s lives in ways that increased policing never has.”
And though you may have a ton of follow up questions for Ms. Kerns, I am left asking an obvious one: Does all of this mean there are only two genders?
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