Students hang purple vulva from The Arch in PUSSYGATE


Lauren Duquette/Daily Senior Staffer

Student organizers hung a purple inflatable vulva at The Arch Friday afternoon. Spectators crowded around the piece, entitled PUSSYGATE.

Kelli Nguyen, Assistant Campus Editor

Hundreds of students marched through a 20-foot-tall inflatable vulva at The Arch on Friday afternoon following the unveiling of PUSSYGATE.

Student organizers hung the purple vulva from The Arch for students and community members to interact with. Spectators watched, took photos with and walked through the open vulva, which hung on display for more than two hours.

Organizers said they wanted students to form their own interpretations of the piece and declined further comment on PUSSYGATE.

For many students, PUSSYGATE served as a statement about the perception of vulvas in society.

“Vulvas carry a lot of shame in our society,” Weinberg senior Ary Hansen said. “It’s a statement about equality and about pussy pride.”

Hansen added that placing a subject typically discussed privately into a public space was a way of bringing the topic into people’s discussions. Students viewed PUSSYGATE as both a conversation starter and homage to vulvas.

Communication junior Maggie Monahan called PUSSYGATE a symbolic representation of the vulva’s “essential and beautiful nature.”

“It’s just a celebration of the pussy,” Monahan said. “We need to stop enshrining phallic symbols as supposedly the most beautiful things at our elite academic institutions, but I also think that the pussy is at the core of everything that’s good in the world.”

Communication sophomore Julianne Lang said she interpreted PUSSYGATE as a symbol of the rebirth of Northwestern students. She compared marching through The Arch to re-entering the womb and said graduating and marching out through The Arch is like a rebirth into the real world.

“We’re being formed while we’re in Northwestern,” Lang said. “(Then) we are birthed into the world.”

Some students said that upon first glance, unexpecting spectators might not recognize the vulva in PUSSYGATE. Medill sophomore Florence Fu said if she had not known beforehand what PUSSYGATE was about, she might not be able to tell that the purple display was a vulva.

Alex Gedye, a McCormick graduate student, said he did not understand the point of PUSSYGATE.

“It’s some balloons that vaguely look like a vulva,” Gedye said. “I have no idea why it’s there. If people are trying to make some sort of statement, I have no idea what it is.”

Many students, however, said they were still thrilled with PUSSYGATE. Monahan said she sees a lot of institutionalized misogyny at institutions like NU, and she’s glad students are rejecting that culture “with passion.”

Communication freshman Cammy Harris said she appreciated the fact that PUSSYGATE increased the visibility of vulvas and celebrated them in a nonsexual way. She added that it was a step in the right direction in changing the culture around vulvas.

“We’re celebrating the community of pussy owners here on campus and decreasing the innately sexual nature of it and embracing it as more of a wonder part of life,” Harris said. “I could not be more happy with this rounding out my first year here at Northwestern.”

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Twitter: @kellipnguyen