Wellesley Students Denounce White Male Privilege of Statue

"I'm not even conscious that I'm wandering through your lady landscape," the statue says.


I changed my mind. Liberalism isn't a mental illness. Actual mental illness is more reasonable than this.

A sleep-walking man clad solely in his underwear is a bit startling to encounter on the campus of a women’s college. Even if he’s just made of bronze and paint.

Double-takes and debate have abounded this week at Wellesley College, where a lifelike statue of a somnambulant male was installed outdoors as part of a new exhibit at the Davis Museum.

Hundreds of outraged students have signed a petition asking administrators to remove it.

Of course they have, because liberalism.

“[T]his highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community,” says the petition.

Fears of sexual assault... from an inanimate object. But the actual petition is full of even crazier arguments.

"Many students are already forcing themselves to "get used to it" (dir. quote) and to accept it as a situation that they do not have control over and are powerless to. This is an emotion that is all too familiar in the real world for many people, and I am shocked that this kind of scenario is being willfully replicated right on Wellesley's campus. Our safe space - the only safe space for some of us - is being heavily compromised, and the fact that you are choosing to defend the statue before considering students' comfort-levels is a shame."

Sruthi Narayanan

But Sruthi's fears that her safe space has been violated by an inanimate object... that she knows is inanimate is sane compared to the white male privilege claim...

Even unconscious and vulnerable, he is threatening. "Arms outstretched, eyes closed," he lumbers forward, quite literally unable to acknowledge the presence of his (in this context) largely female spectators. What a perfect representation of the world outside of Wellesley, where women and people identifying as women are often subject to a similar ambivalence. "I'm not even conscious that I'm wandering through your lady landscape," the statue says. "I do not have to experience you. I feel about you the same way I feel about the snow. But you have to experience me, and I don't care."

What does this statue do if not remind us of the fact of male privilege every single time we pass it, every single time we think about it, every single time we are forced to acknowledge its presence


It's a... statue. It can't acknowledge you. Like every other statue it is not conscious of you because it is not real.

A statue cannot be guilty of white male privilege. It is not alive. It is not guilty of anything. It's an inanimate object.

Your claim that Sleepwalker is passive is spoken in privilege and without regard to the many students on this campus who have faced and survived assault, racism, and many other forms of violent oppression.

Rebecca Layton

Great, so now the statue is also racist

Mr. Matelli comes from a place of great privilege which has apparently been used to place a sculpture of the white male body on campus. I find it weirdly invasive. Wellesley students already have a hard enough time a) keeping creepy boys away and b) destabilizing power structures of gender, race, and class.

You claim that Sleepwalker is inert, passive - free of action or blame. Funny, so do his real-life counterparts.

Anne Corbett

It's not a creepy boy. It's a statue. It is literally passive and inert.

I can tell you from my daughter's perspective (current Wellesley senior) that her reaction would have been almost the same had the statue been female. She encountered this "art" at night while walking back to her dorm from a class (alone). She was startled, concerned, and, yes, frightened. She was ready to call the campus police when she realized that the statue wasn't moving. She has had very poor reactions to hyper-realistic art for as long as she can remember. Now she is forced to walk past this "art" on a daily basis, in the community that she has called home for 3 1/2 years. This is disrupting her studies and causing a great deal of stress. Her reaction would be similar to a female statue because of the hyper-realistic portrayal

Emily Ritsema

I don't even...  "She has had very poor reactions to hyper-realistic art for as long as she can remember."

Wasn't there a time when 18-22 year olds went out to war, got married and had children? Is Emily's daughter seven years old?

This is not art! It's a sexual assault!

Laura Kenderes

A statue. S...t...a...t...u...e.

The sculpture can traumatize and terrorize students on campus who deserve a safe place. To some extent, I personally see it as sexual harassment by proxy.

Yue Xing

I give up. Ladies and gentlemen, your future elites and leaders of tomorrow have spoken. Just wait until they control your lives.


Tags: Art