the ability to hear

not too many years ago, teaching an ensemble but the college had over enrolment problems, at the last minute moved classes to a rehearsal space business. It was the first time i ever went there. 10 young people, some international students, 50/50 male and female. each room has a name paired with decorating theme. our room was the heaven room. the theme inside, illustrations of naked white women with blonde hair, pouty lips, misty eyes. Some very large, floor to ceiling…. heaven.
while fascilitating that first class, tried to sense whether anyone looked uncomfortable. things seemed ok. when we took a break, approached the only staff person by the front and asked if we could change rooms. he said no the college didn’t pay for other choices. that night i wrote the person-in-charge, explained the situation. he thanked me and asked if anyone had complained. nope, just me checking with you. he said it’s okay because they have artwork at the school/ they’ve all seen nudes before – but keep me posted if anyone complains.
next week someone complained, another teacher in fact she expressed her frustration on facebook. then people-in-charge sent her a letter giving her shit for expressing anything critical online about the school’s business. that it was her private Facebook profile didn’t matter. just then CTV heard about her post and wanted to do a television piece about it. when the people-in-charge heard about that, they moved all of us to different inoffensive rooms but first sent an email to all students congratulating themselves for the swift action they took when they discovered this offensive issue. then CTV no longer had a story to report. then the people-in-charge didn’t renew her contract when it expired.
sometime between when i first looked into changing rooms and my colleague being approached by CTV, one of the male students tuned into the criticisms starting to spread. he shrugged like it didn’t mean anything, like who needs to care about that. i had a theory, if I could change the images on the walls to pouty faced men naked with erections and expressions of near climax, that that would make it very hard for him to enjoy the same level of concentration he was so far achieving. instead, i observed a whole other theory playing out, how often people in positions of power have punitive reactions to conflict instead of demonstrating any real capacity to hear.

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1 Comment

  1. Options are:

    1. Paint over all nude images. Con: sounds like religious fundamentalism…

    2. Leave images as is: Con: offensive to women (which women? all women? I guess so…)

    3. Paint over female images and replace with male images (as per your suggestion…) Con: offensive to some men.

    The solution is obvious: Elect someone who can continue to speak on behalf of ALL women while blaming ALL men for the crimes of a select FEW…provided that the yearbook photos of said representative are properly vetted…


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