Vulva: a simple body part… or weapon of mass obscenity?

The organization of which I am president, Liberation In Progress, has been banned from having its bake sale in the Polsky building. Why? For selling edible art—chocolate in the shape of a woman’s vulva.

I’m sure most of you have seen or heard about our now (in)famous bake sales, which offer genital-shaped cookies and chocolate vulvas. This is the second year we have held these bake sales, and it is the first time we have ever had a problem.

L.I.P. doesn’t hold these bake sales simply to be in your face; part of what we advocate is positive body image and the demystification of the female body. At every bake sale, we give away free condoms and information about safe sex, contraception and local support agencies like Planned Parenthood and the Rape Crisis Center. This bake sale in particular was used to launch our newest project called No Woman Left Behind, which is a campaign to end campus sexual assault by empowering women to look out for one another. These tables aren’t just for fun (though of course they are that way inherently); they are an attempt to better our campus community as a whole.

Tuesday afternoon, shortly after setting up shop in Polsky, board members Arienne Acuff and Tiffany Holbrook were approached by Juanita Ward, a Summit College Academic Advising and Student Success employee. Ward proceeded to scream at the group, stating that the candy was inappropriate, obscene, and offensive. Our group was forced to pack up and leave the premises. Ward did not ask what our organization is about nor even if we had permission to be there; her only concern was removing an item she felt was offensive from what she called her building.

Later that day, I contacted Lorri March to reserve a table in Polsky, assuming that going through the proper channels would allow us a safe return to offering our special brand of baked goods to interested customers in Polsky. I was wrong. I was told that our edible art was not allowed because high school students are in the Polsky building.

March informed me that since students under the age of 18 require parental consent to watch R-rated movies, we would not be allowed to have chocolate vulvas in the building. How R-rated movies and edible vulva art are related was never made clear. I then requested permission to reserve a table to promote safe sex in the Polsky building, and was told that I needed to get special permission from a dean of Summit College, and that such permission would only be granted on the condition that no graphic material be present on the table, though graphic material was never clearly defined.

I have spoken to representatives of Associated Student Government as well as Student Judicial Affairs, and I have been reassured that our treatment in Polsky is not University policy. Student organizations cannot be discriminated against based on content of material. What Juanita Ward and Lorri March did was against University policy and based solely on personal beliefs. Summit College does NOT have its own rules when it comes to censorship simply because students under the age of 18 are in the building.

We have been banned from Polsky for reasons that are against University policy. The reasons given were that we were being vulgar and offensive, but I ask you, what is more vulgar: a piece of chocolate vaguely shaped like a body part, or a University representative yelling at a student organization in full view of students, based only on her personal prejudices? What is more offensive: openly talking about anatomy, or being wrongfully banned from a building against University policy?

Advocates of Liberation fear not: we are fighting back. As I posted on our organization’s webpage, Liberation In Progress exists to FIGHT against this kind of small-minded discrimination! We are not going to sit quietly and allow this section of OUR campus to ban safe sex and positive body image