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ISSUE 120 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/23/2007

Pause the Carnival?

By Lauren Ciechanowski
Staff Writer

Friday, February 23, 2007

For the past three years, the Buntrock Commons Crossroads has hosted V-Week’s Vagina Carnival. The St. Olaf administration apparently decided this year that the best place to provide a fun and informative gathering for women’s issues is a dark, out-of-the-way and inconspicuous place.

The Pause during daytime hours is roughly as happening as the library is on a Saturday night. And besides, I was under the impression that the whole point of awareness weeks was to draw attention to certain causes.

The symbolism involved in removing the Vagina Carnival from the Crossroads is at once infuriating and hilarious. Hilarious because roughly 60 percent of Oles have vaginas, and the remaining 40 percent either have seen one or likely will soon. So who cares if there’s a person wearing a giant vagina costume? Of course it’s campy and over the top; it is intended to attract people.

Is it the word that bothers the administration? “Vagina” is not a word we use in our daily lives, but again, that is the point. If men and women cannot say “vagina” without feeling embarrassed or giggling, then how are they supposed to discuss their own health issues with each other and medical professionals?

Anatomy is not only an issue when it is a problem; our bodies are with us always, and we should be comfortable with them. And the more comfortable we are with the word, the easier it will be for us to walk into Fireside and say, “Hey, there’s a campy vagina downstairs!”

The new location is infuriating because the administration is behaving according to the same logic that V-Week is trying to break free from. They are literally moving women’s issues to a dark place that nobody has to walk past unless they want to. Even the most basic student of social science knows that is the absolute worst way to encourage attendance. There’s a reason that the Co-Curricular Fair and other social issue events is always at the Plaza or Crossroads: if you are unsure about attending, seeing someone you know will encourage you to go. To separate the Carnival from the rest of the community makes the Carnival seem taboo.

St. Olaf is generally a very progressive institution, and I was surprised and dismayed to hear that the Carnival had been moved to avoid offense and disruption. If the worst thing that can happen in the Crossroads during Community Time is a person in a vagina costume, I'd say we're all doing pretty well.

Staff writer Lauren Ciechanowski is a senior from Oak Park, Ill. She majors in political science and in sociology/anthropology.

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