Some Interesting Displays in the Library

This week the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies 10 class opened their termly exhibit in Baker-Berry Library. As the display states, students were “required to produce creative work that encourages, incites, induces, or otherwise ignites new ways of thinking about or acting upon an issue or topic central to the ideas, materials, and discussions of this course.”

The exhibition description does specifically delineate these central issues and topics; the range of topics is thus quite expansive, including racial microaggressions, gender-neutral bathrooms, and the problems with white feminists.

The most eye-catching of these projects is an enormous portrait of President Trump constructed from hundreds of smaller photographs. The smaller photographs are, in fact, other portraits – these depicting the victims that lost their lives in major US shootings. The victims included come from the Luby’s Diner Shooting in 1991, the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, the Orlando Pulse shooting in 2016, and the most recent attack in Las Vegas this October. All of the victims are grouped into lists by shooting, attached to the sides of the larger image of President Trump for passers-by to read. In addition to the names of the victims and the date and location of these shootings, the lists also include the names and descriptions of the shooters themselves.

The student behind this project, Samuel Fox, is a ‘20 at the College. In his personal statement about the piece, Mr. Fox wrote that this work intends to highlight the effect that “toxic masculinity” may have on the preponderance of mass shootings in recent US history. His use of President Trump’s portrait as the focal point of this project both condemns the President as an example of this form of masculinity, as well as begs the question: “could any white, middle-aged man appear in the place of Donald Trump’s face?”

The crux of this project is the belief that heterosexual-white men, such as the President, are dangerous because they feed into a culture of “toxic masculinity.”  Despite briefly mentioning the shooters in his victim lists, Mr. Fox’s statement does not address the fact that the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, was of South-Korean origins, or the fact that the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was an Islamic Fundamentalist of Afghan origins. This appears to matter little to students viewing the piece. They are drawn in by the image of the President, but rarely stop long enough to read the names of the individuals that were actually involved in these attacks. To that end, the project has been quite successful in garnering attention for Fox’s chosen issue. Whether his defamation the President and use of victims is justified, however, remains to be seen.

  • Giavanna Munafo

    Just an FYI: The exhibit isn’t termly; it’s happened at the end of fall term for the past several years part of as an assignment for my section (22 of over 80 students taking the class now) of WGSS 10.

  • piper60

    There have been some moments our history when a Presidentwith” toxic masculinity”madethedifferencebetween defeat and survival!