Thinking Sex: Representing Desire and Difference
A Feminist and Gender Studies Course
Bryn Mawr College, Fall, 2002

Archive 2: Reading Safe Haven

Name:  Anne
Subject:  safe haven
Date:  2002-09-06 16:38:46
Message Id:  2534
Sharon Burgmayer asked me if I'd created a forum for you to record your initial responses to "Safe Haven" and so I've done so. She and I warmly invite you to write here what you noticed when you first saw the cover of our course packet. What did you feel? What did you think? What did you think about what you felt?
Name:  Sarah Mendell
Subject:  Safe Haven
Date:  2002-09-07 15:23:28
Message Id:  2541
I'll leave out my initial reaction to the course packet cover "Safe Haven" because it was generally all about women and vaginas. What I saw after closer inspection was the birds eye view of a brain, disected so as to allow the viewer to see the male and female forces competing against each other. I was thinking of Woolf's idea that every person has a male thinking side of the brain and also a female thinking side. I know a lot of people saw the bluish green portion of the piece as a single form but I saw it as two--as two forms in some sort of duel, perhaps working together at times, but in general working antagonistically. The piece didn't necessarily comfort me or make me tense--it just made me think. And while I never used the word "sex" to describe my thoughts on it, there is something inherently sexual about the idea of the brain and the forces within.
Name:  Maggie
Username:  mscottwe
Subject:  Response to Safe Haven
Date:  2002-09-08 22:50:57
Message Id:  2560
Here's what I wrote in class on the third:
I see a flower. The beautiful, large, delicate red flowers with petals that open and then bend backwards. Inside is where the petals proctect the flower's pollen. This part is the most important part to the flower, the part that ensures reproduction and survival.

I see a woman's vagina, similar to the flower in its beauty and delicacy. Inside is the dark part, the most private and protected part, that can release feelings of relief, guilt, joy, passion, sadness...

I see a woman's heart. Beautiful and delicate with petals surrounding it, protecting the inside from the world. The inside is the most precious, where the strongest hatred, deepest love and darkest secrets can stay. Inside, they are safe.

Looking back at what I wrote, I was surprised that I wrote that without knowing that the title was Safe Haven. For the other pieces that we responded to I knew the titles, and I think it is more interesting if you don't know what the title is. Because, at least for me, if I knew what the artwork was called, I immediately tried to understand why the artist called it that, instead of just responding to how I saw it.

Name:  Monica Locsin
Subject:  Safe Haven
Date:  2002-09-09 21:55:07
Message Id:  2574
Every year during the first week of classes I am used to buying books or getting some boring thick binder full of papers. However to my surprise it was different for this course and this made me eager to learn what the course entailed. The cover is calm and gives me a feeling of peace. The colors are gentle but at the same time loud. I like the contrast because it gives the painting more definition and mystery. Thinking of the course title made me come up with a picture of an embryo and a baby inside waiting to be brought into this beautiful world.
Name:  Jessica Tucker
Subject:  Comments on Pictures and Questions
Date:  2002-09-10 00:31:57
Message Id:  2579
When I first looked at "Safe Haven" my response correlates to the name of the piece. I recieved the impression of something warm, soft, and loving. Looking at the picture further, I feel almost as if I'm looking at womb with some kind of vibrant life growing in it. When I study the picture even more, it seems to me like some of the walls of the womb are made up of lip stick mouth marks, like loving kisses.

Name:  ngoc
Subject:  "Safe Haven", Sex & Language
Date:  2002-09-14 17:29:55
Message Id:  2678
when i first saw "Safe Haven", i instantly recall something that was said in "Memoir of a Geisha". i think it goes like this... once, there was a client who asked her (the geisha) if she knew why japanese men like the classic peach hairdo. she didn't know until he told her how the peach hairdo is symbolic and can give rise to thoughts and desires of intimacy. this little recall can demonstrate how an image, a sculpture can be a powerful injection of emotions. an image or a particular shape, can be a language by itself...

speaking of which, i do believe that sex should be put into language. my definition of language, however, defines in more than written form. it includes anything that's beside actual experience (for sex itself is its own language). any other language use to communicate, share, explain the actual experience can be can both simultaneously individualize and connect our experiences, emotions.

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