From: Clay (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 12/25/02-11:06:28 AM Z
It just occurred to me that there is some precedent for male urination
captured photographically: Do you remember the Alvarez-Bravo photo of
the boy taking a leak into a pot? My daughter took the Bravo book to
school for a report on a Spanish-speaking artist to her high school
Spanish class. This particular photo caused a bit of a stir, as you
might expect from a group of high school students.
Can't believe this discussion. Only on the alt-photo list. Only after
the end of the semester. What fun!
On Wednesday, December 25, 2002, at 12:16 PM, Shannon Stoney wrote:
> Judy, I lost your original message, but I believe its main point was
> the picture of Edith Gowin urinating on the floor of an old house or
> building was somehow degrading to her and to women in general. But I
> an argument can be made that this in fact a radically subversive
> photograph. This whole subject originally came up because Jack was
> the idea that men and women look at the land differently: that men
> possession of it by urinating on it, "marking" their territory like
> dogs do,
> but that women "embrace" the land, presumably nurturing it and caring
> for it
> as if it were their child.
> There seemed to me to be something slightly wrong in this formulation.
> After all, caring for the land and possessing it are not mutually
> but frequently go together. And, I have noticed that country women do
> outside a lot, and they quickly discover that squatting to pee is not
> handy, and sometimes not as safe, as standing up to pee. Also
> erect can be done discreetly almost anywhere. I believe that this is
> the traditional garb of women the world over is the skirt, an admirably
> practical garment, easy to sew, easy to convert to a carrying cloth by
> holding up the hem of it, easy to use as a dish towel, etc. And I also
> believe that women did not wear underpants until sort of recently: our
> traditional underwear in cold climates was just a lot of petticoats.
> (Underpants are hard to sew, and stretchy machine-made knits--a modern
> invention-- are practically a necessity.) I read an account by a woman
> visitor to India who asked a bunch of women in saris, at a bus stop,
> the women's room was, and they just laughed at her. They just pee
> they are, whenever they need to (she figured out).
> So this photograph of Edith Gowin could be seen as a statement of the
> that women claim the land in an upright, territorial, fierce way, in
> same way that men are alleged to do. (It's hard to be very dignified or
> fierce when you're squatting with your pants legs around your ankles.)
> Further, it has been noted that Edith is standing at the threshold of a
> building. She is claiming not only the land--the outside--but the
> INSIDE of
> the building, the zone that extreme forms of patriarchy restrict women
> exclusively. By doing something taboo on the floor of this house, she
> challenging the idea of the house-trained, domesticated woman. She is
> You can be territorial and nurturing at the same time. Peeing on the
> doesn't only mark your territory; it also nourishes the ground. Urine
> has a
> lot of nitrogen in it. It's a good idea to pee on your compost pile
> time to time. I know people who have converted huge piles of
> sawdust into nice rich black compost by peeing on it every day.
> Also this gesture of Edith's--lifting her skirt to urinate--is the
> archetypal gesture of Baubo, a Greek goddess known for her ability to
> fun of pomposity and over-seriousness by lifting her skirts and making
> obscene noises and gestures. She is the one who finally made Demeter
> after Demeter had grieved the loss of Persephone for too long; and
> laughter caused summer to return to the earth. Baubo is a trickster
> like Jack in the Jack Tales, or like Coyote in Native American
> stories, or
> like Huck in Huckleberry Finn. Trickster heroines are not as common as
> trickster heroes, so that is perhaps why it is startling, and somewhat
> disturbing, to see Edith re-enacting that role. But it is by no means
> degradation of her or of women generally: it is a deeply
> feminist joke aimed at people who think women should be domesticated
> pets who can't own or defend land.
> PS I hope nobody on this list got a lump of coal in their stocking.
> Tangerines and chocolate money only.
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