Headless Sexting Woman Sparks Outrage, Naturally

headlessPhoto: Via Huffington Post.
Another day, another ridiculous controversy over a woman's body. This time, that woman is actually a headless, bisected sculpture. She lives in a park near Overland Park, KS, and some of her neighbors aren't very welcoming. The scandal isn't especially new — residents began calling for the removal of the statue by artist Yu Chang last summer. When the park refused to cede to demands, a religious group started gathering signatures to convene a grand jury in the hopes of having the statue deemed "harmful to minors."
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The American Family Association (AFA) of Kansas and Missouri insists the statue of the nude woman photographing herself, titled Accept or Reject, promotes sexting. Say, what now? In a comment on Watchdog.org, AFA director Phillip Cosby asked, "Why is a city agency putting in front of children an act, that if they mimicked, would be the illegal manufacture of child porn by children?" This isn't Cosby's first go-around with the statue. Last year, he mounted a failed campaign to have it removed — at a cost of $35,000 to taxpayers. This time, he promises to have the district attorney investigated for obstruction of justice and witness-tampering for "hijacking" the first case. Curiouser and curiouser.
The statue's story itself is strange, too. It's actually a gift from China to the U.S., supposedly to commemorate the presence of Chinese immigrants in America. And the artist, Yu, is the president of Guangzhou Sculpture Academy (where a giant statue of Kobe Bryant stands outside to greet visitors) and is the first of six Chinese sculptors taking part in an initiative to bring international artworks to Overland Park.
What's ultimately troubling, though, is that both art and women's bodies are still considered "obscene" by some in the West. But can we suggest that this sculpture sans head is, in fact, problematic? Casual decapitation is a strange, misogynistic thread that runs through much of popular image-making and plenty of contemporary art, too. Without heads, women become objects, disembodied sex parts, playthings, and commodities. You could argue that Yu is making a statement about how nude selfies strip the subject of identity, or that the photographic process is one of violence — hey-o, Susan Sontag! — but it turns out that Yu just doesn't like giving his sculptures heads. Disappointing, but not obscene. (HuffPo)
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