Harvard Student Magazine Finds Nudity Is The Issue
February 13, 2004
By TARA WEISS, Courant Staff Writer
When Harvard University officials approved H Bomb this week, a new student-run magazine that will include nude pictures of male and female students, the school newspaper's headline read: "Committee Approves Porn Magazine."
That set off a media frenzy and prompted its founders, Camilla Hrdy(pronounced Hurdy) and Katharina Cieplak-Von Baldegg, to write a letter to the editor of Harvard's daily newspaper, the Crimson, saying the paper had erroneously classified it as pornography.
The magazine will "create a forum for an honest discussion of sex on campus," the letter to the editor said.
"We've discussed it [the content] in a rough sense, but I'm not at liberty to say," Hrdy said in a phone interview Thursday. "There will be images of men and women nude, but nothing pornographic. Whenever you say sex at Harvard, it sticks in people's minds."
The first issue is scheduled to be published at the end of May and will include fiction, reported articles, photographs, art and nude images.
Describing it more as an erotica, Hrdy, a 21-year-old history of science major, said, "We felt there was no outlet for that kind of discussion on campus."
Whatever it's classified as, H Bomb joins Vassar College's "Squirm: The Art of Campus Sex," an erotica magazine published annually and is free. Typically, an issue is 60 pages and includes poems, short stories, photography and in-depth articles. There have been articles about rape, the history of the condom and a piece by a Vassar professor about sex toys shaped like religious figures.
"Our goal is to provide intelligent and provocative exploration of sex and pleasure through artwork and literary submissions," says Per Henningsgaard, a Vassar senior and the layout and design editor of Squirm. "Our real goal is to gray the assumptions people have about sex. Squirm prides itself on representing a diversity of bodies. We're careful not to portray simply the skinny white females who typically make it into pornography magazines. There's a diversity of bodies and colors and sexual orientations."
It's impossible to find one of the 1,200 copies printed after a couple of days, Henningsgaard says.
More than a magazine, though, Squirm is a campus organization that hosts widely attended events. They bring speakers to campus, like Annie Sprinkle, a porn star turned sex educator. And they also screen pornography once a month.
"While we show `Debbie Does Dallas,' we also show much less mainstream porn," says Henningsgaard. "We show hard-core lesbian porn, porn that depicts S&M, porn in which women are the powerful dominant figure. We make an attempt to represent all genders and sexuality, just as we do in the magazine. It's a pretty amazing environment. If we see those types of regular stereotypes, there's a very strong response, not in terms of it being really sexy but that it's really disgusting. People cheer, laugh or boo it."
At Vassar, campus organizations go through a two-semester process to receive university funding that includes writing a constitution, maintaining at least 10 members and being approved by the executive council of the Vassar Student Organization.
Even then, Squirm is only partially funded by the university. The organization holds fund-raisers, including its biggest - the sex-toy auction. The Valentine's Day fund-raiser this week is the flash-o-gram. Students pay to have flashers visit someone's dorm room.
"They just take off their top, or as much as they're comfortable with," Henningsgaard says.
Hrdy says they're still unsure if H Bomb will be a free publication. It depends on how much advertising comes in.
The group was approved Tuesday by the Committee on College Life, a student-faculty body. That means it's eligible for grants administered by the university, but funding is not guaranteed.
Liberal Northeastern universities have a history of unique explorations of sexuality and nudity.
At Princeton University, undergrads race across campus in the buff during the first snowfall of the season in the Nude Olympics. And at Wesleyan University, there is an unofficial clothing-optional policy at the West College dorm.
Vassar's Henningsgaard says Squirm's members struggle over whether to call their magazine pornography.
"Whether or not to call it pornographic is a debate among the staff," he said. "To titillate people, we call it a porn magazine, but deep down, nobody on the staff considers it porn. We're certainly not hard-core porn, which needs to be bound in plastic and have an erect penis. Legally, we're not allowed to depict an erect penis or penetration. Those things can be implied. We're more of an artistic endeavor than most pornography is. We're interested in re-conceptualizing what porn is."
Rather interesting... Mmm, if comments strike me, other than being plain curious, I'll post something... Otherwise, go read ::point above to link::