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Display featuring female private parts at UC Thursday


A display featured female private parts is scheduled to be at the University of Cincinnati on Thursday.

The display is titled 'Re-envisioning the Female Body' and will show 12 billboard-sized photographs of vaginas. It's scheduled for Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on McMicken Commons.

The group of photos represents a collaboration between a UC student photographer and 12 volunteer models from within and outside of the UC community. The images will be accompanied by posters sharing quotes from the models and from others about decisions that are made by them concerning their bodies in areas of health care, birth and abortion, and stories of abuse and survival.

According to a Facebook post in November, the event was delayed until Spring due to a lot of interest.

The demonstration was formed in response to the Genocide Awareness Project that came to the UC Campus.

Annmarie Condit, President of UC Students for Life, the group that brought Genocide Awareness Project and Created Equal's Justice Ride to campus, have been passing out flyers informing students about what they are calling corrupt business practices by Planned Parenthood.

"The UC Students for Life are deeply saddened by this response to our use of abortion pictures on campus," said Condit. "The abortion pictures, while shocking and offensive, display the truth about the humanity of the babies killed by abortion. Using objectifying images of women with the claim that it makes a political or artistic statement is an utter non-response to the important issue of abortion; it's nothing but the depraved use of obscenity for shock value. This display is an embarrassment to the students who are organizing it, and to the university as a whole."

UC President Dr. Santa Ono says he has received several comments on the display and released the following statement on Thursday morning:

Several members of our campus community have reached out to me to share their concerns about the "Re-Envisioning the Female Body" exhibit on McMicken Commons sponsored by two UC student groups.  In short, some consider the material to be objectionable and thus asked that I ban the exhibit.  While I understand their position and fully support their right to speak up and speak out, I believe that this is a teachable moment for all of us. 

We are, first and always, an academic community where ideas and images, however complex or controversial, are carefully analyzed and debated.  These intellectual exchanges, while invigorating, can also be challenging and at times polarizing, but at a university like ours they cannot be extinguished, for they are part and parcel of who we are and what we do.  Furthermore, as the Ohio Attorney General has reiterated, we are a public institution obligated to protect the First Amendment, even—perhaps especially—when that protection results in disagreement. 

In sum, I see this exhibit and others on campus as an opportunity for us to grow as thinkers and leaders on all sides of such issues—to interrogate our assumptions, grapple with our differences, clarify our convictions and, above all, uphold our commitment to civility and collegiality.  As for the event, the student organizers have followed the necessary protocols; nevertheless, the University has taken the additional step of posting signs indicating the provocative nature of the material, per standard practice for such gatherings.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thinking on this matter.  Let me say again how very proud I am to lead an institution that has the courage to respect difference and pursue dialogue, even when difficult.

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