Reaction to Shvarts: Outrage, shock, disgust

Anger and disbelief — mixed with several affirmations of free speech — rippled across the Yale campus Thursday in the wake of a report that a senior art student had created a senior project for which she repeatedly self-inseminated and, weeks later, deliberately miscarried.

Many students expressed outrage when told of the concept, saying it transgressed any reasonable moral boundary. Although the University has since released a statement disputing that the actions Aliza Shvarts ’08 describes actually took place, the general consensus among Yale students was that the Davenport College senior acted irresponsibly in using abortion as a form of art. Rather than encourage dialogue, many said, Shvarts simply incited shock and disgust.

Students gather on Beinecke Plaza on Thursday to protest a senior art project that purpoted to display the menstrual blood from self-induced miscarriages.
Courtesy ofAdamSoloman
Students gather on Beinecke Plaza on Thursday to protest a senior art project that purpoted to display the menstrual blood from self-induced miscarriages.

But several students, including members of the Yale Women’s Center staff, defended Shvarts’ work as an appropriate exercise of her right to free expression.

The commentary extended far beyond campus, as national media picked up the story and bloggers weighed in, often passionately.

Choose Life at Yale President John Behan ’10 said the group considers Shvarts’ project reprehensible.

“We believe that Yale students, regardless of their views of abortion, will be deeply disturbed by this trivialization of the agony of women who face crisis pregnancies and endure miscarriages,” he wrote in an e-mail. “This episode offends every thinking person who grapples with the deeply polarizing moral issue of abortion.”

But, Behan said, the controversy may succeed in sparking dialogue about an important issue.

Nina Solah ’08 said Shvarts did not accomplish what she ostensibly set out to achieve with her unorthodox form of art.

“Even if she was trying to provoke debate, I don’t think she ended up doing it,” Solah said. “People are talking about her, not the greater issue of abortion.”

Some students said Shvarts’ actions were irresponsible, not only on principle but also because they mar Yale’s public reputation.

“You have a responsibility to represent your school,” Elle Ramel ’11 said. “What if you are a pre-frosh and this is your last impression before you decide what school to go to?”

On Monday, hundreds of prospective students will descend on Yale’s campus for the annual Bulldog Days to decide whether the University is the right place for them.

But some students said they did not consider Shvarts’ art offensive. Kate McDermott ’11 said the artist was simply exercising her right to expression.

“If you appreciate the idea that art is intrinsically related to politics, then it is perfectly acceptable,” McDermott said. “But it does set a standard for achieving shock value.”

Shvarts also found support from the Yale Women’s Center, which released a statement defending her freedom of expression.

“The Yale Women’s Center stands strongly behind the fact that a woman’s body is her own,” the statement read. “Whether it is a question of reproductive rights or of artistic expression, Aliza Shvarts’ body is an instrument over which she should be free to exercise full discretion.”

But that opinion seemed to be in the minority as far as student opinion was concerned. Some students questioned whether Shvarts’ stated goal — sparking social commentary — is legitimate. Christine Saffold ’11 speculated that Shvarts’ actual main goal in conducting the project was garnering attention and publicity. The idea that someone would get pregnant for the explicit purpose of aborting the fetus, she said, is simply disgusting.

On Thursday, the general public seemed to agree; by early evening, news outlets from The Washington Post to London’s Daily Telegraph had reported the story, and the blogosphere was ablaze in horrified debate over the supposed exhibition.

The project — at least the way Shvarts presented it in a Wednesday press release and in interviews with the News — was quickly condemned by national groups on both sides of the abortion debate.

“It’s clearly depraved. I think the poor woman has got some major mental problems,” the president of the National Right to Life Committee, Wanda Franz, told FOX News. “She’s a serial killer. This is just a horrible thought.”

The abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America also condemned the exhibition in a written statement e-mailed to the News on Thursday.

“This ‘project’ is offensive and insensitive to the women who have suffered the heartbreak of miscarriage,” said Ted Miller, a spokesman for the organization.

Back on campus, students were still struggling to understand Shvarts’ rationale.

Shasky Clarke ’11 said he thinks Shvarts’ artwork treats humans as inanimate objects.

“Why is abortion art?” he asked. “I feel like art is something to be enjoyed and to be cherished by society. The connection of abortion to art is very disturbing to me.”

Comments

  • Anonymous

    In case anyone needed more evidence that the Women's Center is totally out of touch and absurd, may I present Exhibit A…

  • anonymously in Denver

    When I was a child of 5 I accidently pooped in my pants and my mother became upset. If I could relive that experience today, I would reply, relax Ma, just let it dry and mail it to Yale so I can be eligible for a scholarship.

  • guest

    a Miscarriage is a spontaneous occurrence. If the student is inducing pregnancy loss, please refer to the episodes as 'abortions.' one would expect Yale to be semantically correct.

  • Wayne Dougan

    I'm glad to see you clowns at Yale fooling around with this stuff. Good work.

  • Anonymous

    And the Women's Center continues to make itself the campus laughingstock…

  • Feminist

    Moments like this make me realize that real feminism has no place here on campus.

    The Women's Center has abandoned women when they support this garbage.

  • Tuco

    The Yale PR office indicates this piece is about "ambiguity between form and function of a woman's body?" Just wondering where that "amiguity" is. I can't seem to find any. I'm utterly clear on the profoundly risky statement by The Yale Women’s Center that it "stands strongly behind the fact that a woman’s body is her own." Perhaps the "ambiguity" will be in the minds of those pre frosh admits who will be attending Bulldog Days on Monday and are toiling with the decision of whether to attend Yale, Harvard or Princeton.

  • Ben

    It disturbs me to read that such an exhibition is being allowed and dare I saw encouraged at such a place as Yale - where young people are supposed to be learning to think, not mutilate themselves.

    Your article alludes to Ms. Shvarts' trivialization of abortion, but what about her trivialization of monogamy, pregnancy, miscarriage, parenthood, and life itself?

    In the opinion of at least one (that still counts in America, doesn't it?) This is nothing more than a pedophilic snuff film, supported by Yale.

  • Concerned Woman

    Let's leave out the abortion debate for a moment, shall we? (I'm not in my mind, but I will for the purposes of this comment.)

    What this woman is doing to herself is the equivalent of slitting her wrists and stitching them up-- over and over and over again-- and then displaying the blood as art. She has seriously harmed her ability to have children in the future should she decide to do so. She could have caused her own death messing with her body in such a way.

    Supporters of abortion rights recognize the fact that it is a dangerous medical procedure (hence the need for legalized safe abortions). Did Ms. Shvarts fail to get the memo?

    Actions like those of Ms. Schvarts lead to anti-abortion activists winning political support. She may have a Yale education, but she has managed to show both her mental instability and her lack of foresight.

  • Erika

    As a woman who has endured 2 miscarriages I find this very sick and twisted. To call something like this art would be like calling a tuberculosis patient's cough music. Not only does it trivialize the beauty of a woman's body and reproduction, it also insults true art. Morally speaking, this is an atrocity. No one should create life simply to destroy it. Nor should someone use their own body so destructively. Medically speaking Ms. Schvarts' reproductive future is now seriously in danger. Her life may well be in danger as well since repeated miscarriages have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and other diseases.

  • artist

    "I feel"
    "I think"
    "offends me"

    These are opinions,
    they don't matter.

  • Anonymous

    Of all the arguments used to defend Ms Schvartz, the most disingenuous one is that of her right to "Free Speech".
    The University has not had free speech since the institution of speech codes.
    To paraphrase Orwell, some offensive speeches are more offensive than others.
    Whereas a spectacle (I hesitate to call it art) where life may or may not have been terminated for no other reason than stimulation of discussion is approved and condoned by the University, advocating military service for the purpose of national defense is explicitly forbidden.

  • Anonymous

    "I feel"

    "I think"

    "offends me"

    These are opinions,

    they don't matter.

    Unfortunately, Dear Artist, in today's legal climate they matter a great deal, and are used extensively and successfully in sexual harassment and hate speech lawsuits nationwide.

  • Anonymous

    To "Artist": If opinions don't matter I'd say you're out of a 'job' because art is hardly a field supported by facts.

    http://adamjschmidt.com

  • Duckie

    Free speech?

    I'd be okay if she wanted to write an essay or stand up on stage and express her thoughts on an issue. But this is not "speech." If her vocabulary is that limited that she has to resort to bleeding in order to "express" herself, why is she at Yale?

  • I AM

    I KNOW this is disgusting. Putting aside Morality for the sake of bad art, is a betrayal of God (Whom actually exists, art students!). You will not hear "I think", "I feel", or any other 'opinion'. Human life, in any form or representation, should be treated with dignity and respect, which young people simply do not understand. The ignorance displayed here is stunning, as is the animosity and hatred to your fellow man (fellow 'human beings', for the sensitive people out there… do you see the irony?). May God have mercy on your souls… the God you WILL meet at the end of your natural lives.

  • Anonymous

    Gawd. I'm as put off by this exhibit as the next person, but the sheer amount of stupidity leveled against it makes me wonder if I should reconsider my position.

    As the saying-attributed-to-Mark-Twain goes, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform"

  • Anonymous

    I wonder how the Women's Center would have reacted if someone were to threaten Ms. Shvarts with a lawsuit.

  • Anonymous

    Free Speech is not shouting "fire" in a full theater which is what Shvarts did. I want to know what consequences the university will impose for 1) Shvartz lies and 2) YDNs failure to verify her story.

    Will the university also require Shvartz and her accomplices to attend sensitivity training by meeting with women who have endured miscarriage and with women who have undergone and grieved abortion?

    Where will the university sponsored counseling sessions be held for the scores of people offended by her vulgar story?

  • artiste

    ""I feel"

    "I think"

    "offends me"

    These are opinions,

    they don't matter."

    The above statement doesn't matter.

  • a woman that matters

    ART IS THE EXPRESSION OF THE SOUL,THEREFORE; I FEEL I THINK ARE OPINIONS THAT MATTER What does not matter is an art snob.

  • artists have heads up asses

    um, #11, why do opinions not matter? Yes, an opinion is not a factual statement, but opinions do matter. and, regardless of the offensiveness of this art exhibit (because i think being offended is part of life, and a good one at that), I think (yes, I THINK) that most people are reacting because the art exhibition is incredibly stupid - as is this chick. and, i see your name is artist. no one wants to restrict artists doing what they want. but in that same vain, no one has to monetarily support artists either. unfortunately, much like professors in the academic world, artists have only risen themselves to an elite status and are no longer in touch with the people or reality anyway.

  • JOY

    ^^if they don't matter why should we listen to yours?

  • Cathy Titchenal

    If this is what an ivy league education offers to or tolerates from it's students, I'm certainly glad that my daughter didn't attend Yale. And Michael "Darling", I know you are a curator at the Seattle Art Museum but please shut up. You're embarrassing fellow Washingtonians with your idiotic comments about this situation, thank you very much.

    The young woman in this article is in serious need of psychological attention in my opinion before she becomes another psycho mass murdering suicide killer on campus at Yale or elsewhere. This whole situation is just bizarre, unethical, immoral and in very poor taste artistically. In fact, I wouldn't even consider what she did as "art". It's more like crazy garbage and possibly self-mutilation or worse.

  • realist

    >These are opinions,

    >they don't matter.

    Art doesn't matter.

  • anonymous

    Maybe no one ever thought about those children. Maybe we are so caught up in expressing ourselves and establishing our own rights, we can't possible realize the detriment we have done to those unborn "fetuses" who can't speak with their own voices, because those little feet and hands have been sacrificed to art and liberty. I feel for the woman who has to live with herslef when the realization of what she's done sinks in. Demoralizing and tragic aren't strong enough to portray my disappointment in humanity.

  • jared

    Artist, you contradict yourself. It is your opinion that those opinions don't matter. So your opinion wouldn't matter either. And since when don't opinions matter?

  • Another feminist

    Chase and the rest of leadership at the Women's Center-- you are so out of touch with the rest of women at Yale. You really need to reevaluate. It's such a shame that the Women's Center has become a laughingstock.

  • Normal Woman

    #11, You folks at Yale are insane…
    just my opinion, don't let it offend you

  • Whoa!

    I can't believe the Women's Center actually supports this! Women and men stand on equal footing in every other way, but women are gifted with something so special in their reproductive abilities. This woman's display denigrates everything special about women and makes it seem that our unique reproductive ability is to be looked upon as grotesque and unwanted. There is nothing feminist about it, and the Women's Center should certainly not put itself in the position of defending it. What are they thinking???! This the EXACTLY why so few people support the modern feminist agenda - it is totally out of touch with mainstream, moderate culture.

  • Connecticut Resident

    She should be immediately expelled from the University and required to repay any financial aid that she has received.

    Where is the faculty and staff that should have been supervising this "project".

    Ms. Shvarts is a disgrace.

  • female

    taking the life of children and calling it art is mentally unstable and this person needs to be evaluated by professionals and do some jail time.

  • faust

    OK, first, we don't know exactly how much of this story is true.

    Second, supposing it IS true:

    If I were a prefrosh, I would be appalled at this project, but I would also realize that there are a precious few schools in the country where someone could even consider, let alone actually carry out such a thought.

    You know, a couple professors at Harvard used to give LSD to undergrads. It was a totally twisted idea, and harmed quite a few more people than Shvarts's art project has. But both are really products of bold artistic and philosophical exploration, if gone tragically wrong. As such, they are evidence that, at least, such exploration still exists in our culture and at Yale, and, hopefully, something more beautiful can come out of it as well.

  • artistic

    Since when do opinions not matter in art? Art is all about interpretation. Of course these opinions all matter!

    And frankly, this woman who mutilated her body and potentially created life for the sole purpose of destroying it is seriously deranged.

  • anonymous

    1. Immediately upon fertilization, cellular development begins. Before implantation the sex of the new life can be determined.
    2. At implantation, the new life is composed of hundreds of cells and has developed a protective hormone to prevent the mother's body from rejecting it as a foreign tissue.
    3. At 17 days, the new life has developed its own blood cells; the placenta is a part of the new life and not of the mother.
    4. At 18 days, occasional pulsations of a muscle - this will be the heart.
    5. At 19 days, the eyes start to develop.
    6. At 20 days, the foundation of the entire nervous system has been laid down.
    7. At 24 days, the heart has regular beats or pulsations.
    8. At 28 days, 40 pairs of muscles are developed along the trunk of the new life; arms and legs forming.
    9. At 30 days, regular blood flow within the vascular system; the ears and nasal development have begun.
    10. At 40 days, the heart energy output is reported to be almost 20% of an adult.
    11. At 42 days, skeleton complete and the reflexes are present.
    12. At 43 days, electrical brain wave patterns can be recorded. This is usually ample evidence that "thinking" is taking place in the brain. The new life may be thought of as a thinking person.
    13. At 49 days, the baby has the appearance of a miniature doll with complete fingers, toes and ears.
    14. NAME CHANGED FROM EMBRYO TO FETUS. At 56 days all organs functioning - stomach, liver, kidney, brain - all systems intact. Lines in palms. All future development of new life is simply that of refinement and increase in size until maturity at approximately age 23 years. This is approximately two months before "quickening" yet there is a new life with all of its parts needing only nourishment. The mother will usually not feel the child's movements until four months after conception.
    15. 9th & 10th week, squints, swallows, retracts tongue.
    16. 11th & 12th week, arms & legs move, sucks thumb, inhales and exhales amniotic fluid, nails appearing.
    17. 16 weeks (four months), genital organs clearly differentiated, grasps with hands, swims, kicks and turns somersaults (still not felt by mother).
    18. 18 weeks, vocal cords working . . . can cry.
    19. 20 weeks, hair appears on head; weight - one pound; height - 12 inches. A fetus (little one, child, baby) is essentially no different at fertilization, ten weeks, twenty weeks or thirty weeks. A person is a person, no matter how small.

  • anonymous

    the project is really just a natural extension of the abortion mindset’s utilitarian view that unborn children are expendable. After all, if embryonic human beings can be destroyed for the sake of science, why can’t they be killed in the name of art?”

    “When people are treated like things, we all suffer,” added Janet Morana, another co-founder of SNMAC. “The lie that unborn children are not children is a cancer that has resulted in the kind of calloused hearts and minds that would conceive and approve of a project like this. It’s not just that the project is offensive, it diminishes human life.”

  • old one

    In the late 60's there was a literary magazine called Insect Trust and one of the offerings was about a performance artist who as his project, one spectacle at a time, cut off a limb…Of course the final production was fatal if I remember correctly.

    That was art, then…and very much a fiction…I thought of this when I read of this 'project' and though, oh been there done that

    So nothing new here, someone trying on a more visual level to shock…

    And with less reality

  • Lily Janiak

    However one might disagree with Shvarts' "morals," her project does not "trivialize" issues of miscarriage, abortion, pregnancy, etc. The opinion piece she wrote demonstrates serious and critical engagement with the application of ideas of identity politics to female bodies--specifically, her own female body. Shvarts obviously considers these aspects of femaleness (and how society dictates that they necessarily relate to "femaleness") to be so significant, to be so problematic for women (including those women who suffer from miscarriages, or choose to have abortions), that she has been willing to explore and question them, publicly, in a way that might have major consequences for her. This decision, to me, seems to have nothing to do with "trivializing."

    Most of the criticisms leveled against Shvartz are some permutation of, "her experience of femaleness is different from mine."

    Because it is each woman's prerogative to designate which aspects of her own femaleness are sacred or not sacred, and which aspects she will question or not question, I fully support Shvartz's project and the Yale Women's Center's defense of it and am proud to consider as friends both Shvartz and members of the Women's Center.

  • Anonymous

    #38, this is moral relativism to its core. You said, "Because it is each woman's prerogative to designate which aspects of her own femaleness are sacred or not sacred," Assuming Shvartz actually did do what she claims, if life was created, it is either sacred or it is not. Her designation does not change that. The moral relativism you have expressed explains why Shvartz appears morally tone deaf in her explanation of her "art". For that I take pity on her. Being able to use our reason to think about questions of sacredness and morality is a great gift, but there is a danger for those who happen to be very smart, very intellectual. It is easy to hide behind a lot of complex language and high sounding words to find excuses for behavior that deep down, if you listen to your heart, you know is wrong. I have had 2 miscarriages and 3 children. It is hard to explain to those who have not experienced a pregnancy what a profound, earth shattering experience it is to know that new life is growing inside you. I suspect Ms. Shvartz is pulling a hoax, but in the process she did trivialize the moral questions. If she really did do what she claims, it was profoundly morally wrong. I think most of you know that. .

  • yalie'80

    Watch out…every comment posted here will probably become part of her "art project".

    I think it's clear that Shvarts has earned her "BS".

    What this says to me is that art has become so irrelevant in today's world, that a so-called "artist" is reduced to this kind of drivel to get attention. And why is art so irrelevant? Perhaps that's something the Yale Art Department should spend some time on. As an alum, I would definitely like to see a thorough investigation of what is going on there.

    Hey Shvarts, can you actually draw? Or do anything that in fact requires artistic talent? You're pathetic.

  • NekoNeko

    How boring. They are playing directly into Ms Shvart's hands. The more outrage she gets, the bigger her ego will swell as she looks at all of the people she has taken in. Whether she actually did as she claimed is unimportant at this point, she has done what she's wanted to do, which is to incite the masses.

    I personally find the biggest fault in her art piece is her obvious lack of experience at life, science, & the female body. Her statements have proven only that she is young, has only a rudimentary knowledge of how the female body works (there are tests that can be done to discover whether she was pregnant or not), & is completely sheltered from the outside world. Her works only show that she is incredibly naive & has based her opinions upon what she has been told, not what she has experienced. I will keep my eye on her to see if after graduation she has experienced enough to make a good piece of art, as she DOES have potential, but now? She's too green. Her art should have been able to stand on it's own at the 2008 art expo without the need for grandstanding beforehand. Her art lacks the actual experience of life, which makes her art no more poignant than that of a fingerpainting toddler.

  • Class of 1987

    I read her opinion piece and I did not think it justified or put forth any serious scholarship. I cannot believe that such offensive work is acceptable these days.Also if she lied and falsified information in her project she should fail and/or be expelled for academic dishonesty.

  • An Alum

    To #38, and Shvarts:

    Have you read any EB White recently, or re-read Strunk & White, or read Twain's "Cooper's Execrable Prose Style"? Your writing is so full of prepositions and ponderous catchphrases that it obscures your message, if you have one. Please rewrite your "essays" to reduce the syllable count by 90%, so we can see your core message and reasoning, if any.

    Here's a starter example:
    Change "demonstrates serious and critical engagement with the application of ideas of identity politics to female bodies--specifically, her own female body." to "shows that she is thinking about her body."

    People who feel strongly but who don't think clearly often use this blather-babble-gush writing style, inadvertently revealing how little logic underlies the gush. Please think thoroughly first, and THEN write crisply. That will generate enlightening logical debate, instead of inflammatory emotional rant.

  • my response

  • Hop One

    It's cool. We all get ours in the end.

  • Tom Anderson

    Oh #38, stop with the psychobabble about "identity politics" et al. How about this. How about, if YOU were to get into a fatal car wreck, without you or your family's permission, we post pics of your dead body and blood, and speak great volumes of, I don't know, "man's preoccupation of women's gender issues" or simply state it had nothing to do with your life, but rather, to "engage in dialog about one's relationship to body, asphalt, and sharp metal objects, with full intellectual engagement and discourse about the 'consequences' of such acts". See, I can write garbage too.

  • yalie

    I like comment #18 a lot. I consider myself pretty damn progressive, but I think that it is hypocritical of the Women's Center to defend one incidence of offensive free speech after threatening a lawsuit for another (also, after the "Yale Sluts" incident, they demanded that the University LIMIT such speech). The reason why is that both incidents broadcast some sort of message that people deemed "offensive" and that made people feel threatened; the "Yale sluts" picture spread through Facebook, and the abortion project spread through the YDN (and now the national media). Just because The Women's Center sees one incident as more empowering to women (though that is VERY debatable), it does not take away the issue at hand: that people were offended. It is hypocritical to say that offensive speech is only allowed when it is under the guise of feminist art.

  • Hmmm

    I find it hilarious that Yale Daily News has debased its own status as a source of even remotely respectable journalism. They've allowed themselves the become the platform for an asinine fabricated art project requiring less talent than finger painting…

  • James

    I believe in reproductive freedom, and I believe in freedom of speech. But freedoms are not to be abused. Just as one should not yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, one should not engage in abortions for sport. Aliza Shvarts's caviler attitude and actions trivialize the issue--not give it greater import. And, ultimately, they undermine the very freedom that she claims to support and that so many women need.

  • Anonymous

    Shvartz and Number 11,

    I also have nothing to say.

  • Lou Voren

    This will do wonders for future financial support and contributions for the university's endowments.

  • don't call me "Cliffie"

    NekoNeko (post #41), you get to the heart of the matter. As I read about this controversy, I was struck by the immaturity of the whole "project," as well as by the young woman's lack of awareness of self and of the world.

  • Anonymous

    #38- Ms Jaqniak
    Re: "in a way that might have major consequences for her"
    She sure hedged her bets by testing the "fabricators" for STD's. What courage! No STD's for me! As for the embryos…?
    Well, the embryos, as you well put it, fall on the wrong side of "each woman's prerogative to designate which aspects of her own femaleness are sacred or not sacred, and which aspects she will question or not question". So into the bucket go the embryos. Never mind that they may be a life apart of her own. Only she has the right to decide that. This is the final myopic irrational conclusion of fanatic pro-choicers: The categorical denial that there is a life within a woman's womb that is just as sacred as she is.
    So it logically follows that that embryo can be desecrated and disposed of for more important things such as Art, "Discussion", and whatever else Ms Schvarts may fancy.
    So be that as it may, Ms. Janiak, let's move on to Ms. Schvwarts academic endeavor, forgetting all the awkward morality issues.
    She "demonstrates serious and critical engagement with the application of ideas of identity politics to female bodies"
    That must be why, rather than submitting her project to an academic forum, she gifts it to the world as a press release. This way, every Tom, Dick, and Harry, as well as tabloids, can engage in serious and critical discussion.
    The project, except for the casual disregard for life, what Hannah Arendt referred to as "the banality of evil", is a long series of early and mid 20th century cliches.

    First one: "epater les bourgeois" The artist as purveyor of new ideas so foreign to the bourgeois sensibility as to stupefy them. The trick is at least 100 years old and now a virtual uniform of "artistic" expression.
    Second cliche: Conceptual art. Marcel Duchamp was its originator and master. He put a toilet bowl in a museum and called it art. What mattered was not the object itself but the idea behind it. Duchamp always kept humor in the mix, all his followers have been pretentious bores. The movement petered out in the late 70's under the unbearable weight of ponderously incromprehensible concepts.
    Third cliche: Structuralism/Deconstruction
    Originally a French literary criticism movement (Derrida) that analysed how words are given meaning, it spread into psychiatry (Lacan), even pop phenomena (Lacan). In the US it infiltrated into literature and sociology departments where it morphed into an ideological weapon against "the powers that be". It is the fountain from which todays tortured grammatical aberrations emanate, of all the "signifiers", and "heteronormatives" that bewilder a sensible english reader. All these French ideas lose something in translation: meaning. The very thing they were supposed to clarify becomes obscure.
    I was a French major so I got my full dose of Lacan, Derrida and Barthes. After reading Ms Schvartz defense of her thesis I can truly appreciate all the shopworn malformed cliches that she so clumsily splatters in all directions to make her point. Read Barthes to appreciate how truly awful Ms. Schvarts prose is.
    Fourth Cliche: Body fluids/excreta as art. Even though the thrill of this medium fades (for most people) after age 5, some artists never tire of it. Turner, in the mid 1800's famously used spit to smudge and alter paint strokes. It is not surprising that after the "emotional release" of abstract expressionists such as Pollock, there would follow an anatomic "sphincteric" release, which coupled with a bit of "epater les bourgeois" generated the famous "Piss Christ" by Andres Serrano. Even the artist's own blood has been used, albeit more elegantly by Mark Quinn to make a self portrait bust.

    Well, so what, all art is referential, why should we hold Ms Schvats to a different standard?
    Because by doing a press release she presumes that what she is to say is more important than what her peers in the art department have to say, as well as whatever the other news of the day are. So we pay attention to what she is about to say.
    She says nothing new, or even different from what is copiously emanating from women's studies departments, feminists groups, etc. She says it, to put it mildly, clumsily. Whatever the message was, even its ambiguous nature, does not come across. Even her defenders admit she has not been understood by the masses, who she so fervently wanted to educate when she issued the press release.

    Her art is as gauche and crude as her defense of it.

  • Anonymous

    It's pretty ironic that the Women's Center supports Shvarts. She's done more damage to feminism, women's rights and the Women's Center itself than a group like Zeta Psi ever could.

    http://yaledailynews.com/articles/view/23059

    Like #18 and #47 mentioned, the Women's Center should perhaps consider legal action in this case as well.

  • Anonymous

    As a parent of a Yale student, I am embarrassed for the university and feel that not only the student, but also the thesis adviser should be disciplined. Where is the judgment of the adults in the art department in this matter?

  • Anonymous

    #38, do you actually believe what you are saying here: Most of the criticisms leveled against Shvartz are some permutation of, "her experience of femaleness is different from mine."

    Are you even reading/listening to what people are saying, or are you just missing the point entirely?! No one seems to be focusing on how their experiences differ from those of Shvartz, as if that is even relevant to the situation. Questions of morality, life and death, and mental instability are not judgments of whether one's experience with femaleness differs from another's. There is an objective truth that either life is sacred and precious or it is not. That is not an interpretation of one's experience.

    You demonstrate a real passion for individual experimentation, but your point suffers from a lack of moral and social acumen, which may become more developed with maturity and experience.

  • disgusted

    "sparking dialogue about an important issue"

    ???

    Since when does the abortion debate need a spark to create dialogue? What in the f___ have we been debating for the past 30+ years?

    This "experiment/project" proves nothing except that Ms. Shvarts is a disgusting, morally-bankrupt individual who simply craves attention.

    One can only hope that she has at the very least destroyed her ability to ever reproduce.

  • Capt. Obvious

    Everyone seems to be missing the big point here…

    SHE DIDN'T ACTUALLY DO IT!

    Everyone please take a deep breath and get off your high horses. It's FAKE!

  • Kat

    This "art project" has seriously made me rethink my stand on abortion. This is an abuse of a resource that in essence kills babies for women who conceive under horrible circumstances or just cannot support a child.
    #58, Shvartz has said it is real many times.
    Shvartz in essence is a mass murderer.

  • Prometheus

    Perhaps a bit late to the game, but I had just heard of this (not being a viewer of Fox News). Having said that, this whole project seems to reinforce the idea of instant righteousness. No need to fully examine your own life. Just watch Faux News and lob invective and wallow in your moral superiority. Thought is, of course, optional. And art -- the moralists would prefer maudlin images of lit cottages, the atheists fail to understand, insisting as they do upon pure reason to understand the world. I do not know much about art, but am always willing to learn more. I do know that art is not always pretty, but true art siezes the soul and demands engagement with life.