INDEPENDENT NEWS

AIDS Foundation Strikes Problem with Billboard

Published: Tue 3 Sep 2002 10:10 AM
National Penis Day, Thursday 5th September
AIDS Foundation Strikes Problem with Billboard
for immediate release
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation today expressed exasperation that it was being blocked from erecting billboards that feature (non-erect) men’s penises to mark National Penis Day this coming Thursday 5th September. Foundation Executive Director, Kevin Hague, said:
"It seems that, despite practically everyone either having a penis or being pretty familiar with the sight of someone else’s, men’s penises are considered to be so obscene and offensive that they cannot be shown on a billboard in New Zealand.
At the risk of seeing the headline ‘AIDS Foundation fails to get it up’, I think we have to highlight the rich irony in what has occurred: a campaign to demystify the penis and highlight the demonisation of men’s sexuality has fallen victim to the same mindset that saw early missionaries hack the penises from carved figures in New Zealand and the Pacific. It demonstrates that nineteenth century attitudes are alive and well in New Zealand today.”
The Foundation pointed out that while it was possible to find amusement in this example of modern wowserism, there was also a very serious side to the issue, and the Foundation would still find a way to promote its message.
"The whole idea of National Penis Day is to highlight the need for men to be able to talk about sex in a healthy way and to be able to take seriously their own sexual health and that of their partners. The main obstacles to these goals are the rigid masculine roles men are expected to play and the silence and shame surrounding men’s sexuality."
“ In the 1980s, AIDS activists used the slogan ‘Silence = Death’ to illustrate the tragic consequences if we fail to change our cultures in ways that enable us to be able to talk about previously taboo subjects like sex. Surely we’ve got beyond that by now?”
Kevin Hague pointed out that it seemed bizarre that it would be possible to put up billboards depicting:
- Michelangelo’s ‘David’ or any number of other sculptures or paintings that included naked men;
- The Giant of Cerne Abbas (a huge Prehistoric chalk drawing in the green fields of Southern England, featuring a man with an erect penis;
- Pou Whakairo including figures with penises;
- Men wearing penis gourds;
- Clockwork toy penises;
- A huge array of phallic symbols;
but not a photograph of the real thing.
“What we wanted to depict in the billboard would have been acceptable on Swedish children’s television, for goodness’ sake. It is no coincidence that Sweden has much lower rates of sexually transmitted infections than does New Zealand when we men are continually told that we should be ashamed of our sexuality.”
“It’s about time we got over this silliness.”
For further comment please contact Kevin Hague, Executive Director
Office: 09-303-3124
Home: 09-372-9780
Mobile: 027-291-7628

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