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On why feminists ought to be glad about skyscrapers

Asks the headline above this Guardian piece by Leslie Kern: Do cities have to be so sexist?

Let me ask a similar question: Do skyscrapers have to be so tall and yet so comparatively thin? Do skyscrapers have to be shaped, that is to say, like penises? The answer is: yes. That’s the whole point of skyscrapers. Their reason for existence is to fit a lot of floor space upon a very small patch of land, in a place where land is very expensive to buy because lots of people are needed to work in this one spot, and consequently where the elaborate technology needed to build them is justified by the advantages gained.

Says Leslie Kern:

From the physical to the metaphorical, the city is filled with reminders of masculine power. And yet we rarely talk of the urban landscape as an active participant in gender inequality. A building, no matter how phallic, isn’t actually misogynist, is it?

I’d say that the urban landscape is not actually that misogynist. After all, the basic economic fact that made female political, social and economic equality something which it made sense for women to demand was that the modern economy depends far less on physical labour done in fields and factories, and far more upon mental work, done in places like skyscrapers. Men are, on average, physically stronger than women, so in a world dependent on sweated labour, men were the dominant sex. But now, it counts for more that women have always been, again on average, just as clever as men, and rather more conscientious, while also being rather more biddable and risk-averse than men. Very useful corporate functionaries, in other words. How would all this new indoor and sexually more egalitarian mental labour have been accommodated in the exact places where it has been most needed, without the “urban landscape”, and in particular without skyscrapers? Instead of grumbling about skyscrapers, feminists ought to be glad about them. Even if skyscrapers are shaped like penises.

I once had an unpaid job in the office of the recently deceased and much lamented architect Ivor Smith. Much lamented, because even as I was, even way back then, beginning to have my doubts about his architecture, I had to acknowledge, and I say again now, that he was a lovely man, just as all the obituaries I have today been reading said he was.

One of my more vivid recollections of Ivor Smith was when he and some of his young colleagues were discussing a tower that some other architect had designed, and Smith speculated that this architect had done his design by slapping his cock down on the drawing board and drawing round it. Having only just stopped being a rather nerdy schoolboy, and having just become an equally nerdy student, I was a bit startled to hear a grown man in a suit and tie make a joke like this, in an office, as I think were some of the other architects. But there was as much masculine self-mockery in this joke as there was mere masculinity. Smith was no misogynist. I still remember also how much Smith’s wife and daughters adored him, and he them.

But then again, although I don’t know if this applies to Leslie Kern, many feminists don’t approve of happy families, any more than they approve of skyscrapers.

19 comments to On why feminists ought to be glad about skyscrapers

  • […] to doing another one, a quickie. But that also grew quite a bit, and turned into a piece called On why feminists ought to be glad about skyscrapers. It grew because I found myself also writing about one of the men who designed this […]

  • Dr. Caligari

    Thats remember me of the Simpsons. 😆

  • bobby b

    So, we should be building our civilization in caves?

  • Chester Draws

    No skyscraper looks remotely like my penis. Most are not even round. They are no more phallic than a tin of baked beans (which at least is round and not sharp pointed).

    I’d bet good money that architects go out of their way to avoid their buildings looking too like penises. The example of that football stadium that looks too like a vulva would suggest that ridicule would follow.

    The sub-Freudian analysis that they are phallic should be treated with laughter.

  • mikesixes

    Well, I suppose they could build them “female”, like missile silos, instead.

  • These people really are beyond parody.

  • Mr Ed

    Something that is designed to look like a penis in the sky would at least be recognisable as such. I can’t say that any building that I can think of fits that description, I’m sure we would have never heard the end of it by now were that the case. And whilst they really are beyond parody, as Perry notes, they don’t seem to care, they fit the narrative, to further the revolt against reason.

  • These people really are beyond parody. (Perry de Havilland (London), July 7, 2020 at 10:07 pm)

    Nil desperandum, Perry – powerline blog manages:

    how do we know all these skyscrapers identify as male? I think this whole article is transphobic

    And surely Brian’s point is that other skyscrapers are ‘feminist allies’ (though they do say, “Never trust a male feminist”).

  • CaptDMO

    Oh sweetie, don’t think of every skyscraper as a turgid, throbbing, penis that you can never have….
    Think of them as the receptacles of the firmament, being filled, and withdrawn, every day with the essence of civilization, injecting and exuding the natural essential fluids through the utilities, to enable the proper process of fertile minds.
    …or something.

  • John B

    I agree. There is clear sex discrimination, women are grossly under-represented in city workforces – building tall buildings, scouring out sewers and rubbish collection. Clearly more women should be made to do these jobs – it’s for your own good and that of sisterhood.

    In fact we could start with nursing. 95% of nurses are female, half should be fired and given jobs on the bin lorries etc, and the men they displace moved into nursing.

  • Fraser Orr

    You know you Londoners like to name your skyscrapers, like the Shard, or the Walkie Talkie or the Gerkin. I think they should totally build a new one in London and call it the Penis. If you are going to be accused of these things you might as well have the fun of doing them.

    I guess though people might object to having to say “Hey, I got a job in the Penis”.

  • staghounds

    If they call the Gherkin the Gherkin, I can’t imagine how something they’d call “The Penis” would look.

  • mikee

    The fruit & vegetable aisles of grocery stores must be a source of great discomfort to such people as those complaining about the skyscrapers.
    At least I hope so.

  • Jacob

    You may ridicule these people all you want, but wait, they’ll start soon tearing them down, like the statues. That’s the new chic – tear down anything you don’t like. And all the nice people will stand nearby and applaud the “mostly peaceful” protest.

  • Ferox

    Considering that practically every single artifact of modern life is provided, under the hood, by men doing dangerous jobs without much social reward, cities should be considered triumphs of feminism.

    Every time you sit on a piece of wood furniture, turn on a light switch, use a steel fork, or look out onto the evil misogynist city through clear plate glass, you are seeing the thankless (though well-paid) work of countless men, some of whom put their blood into those things.

    And we don’t even have to look at them. They are tidily out of sight, toiling away so that we can all live in ease and comfort.

    Cities are a parable of modern gender relations in our societies.

  • Jacob

    Cities are a parable of modern gender relations in our societies.
    They are a parable of human ability.

    That’s why they are being destroyed.

    Communism supported (at least nominally) scientific and technological progress.
    The new movement (SJW? BLM?) is primitive – it is against everything. And destroys everything.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    My day-job organisation has a Human Remains department, staffed entirely by females, enforcing “positive discrimination” in their favour.

    So, lest we forget – for every skyscraper there are many more smaller buildings that are shaped like beehives.

    Symbolically (and literally) full of drone males serving and supporting their higher-status females.

  • Paul Marks

    So the Frankfurt School Marxists do not like skyscrapers.

    Oh well – I am not wildly fond of them myself, so I will not be a hypocrite and denounce the Marxists over this.

    Still I quite like Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building (the tallest building in the world when it was built – about the time my father was born) and I am sorry that it was a bit messed up by the “restoration”.

    I also do not dislike the Art Deco skyscrapers of the 1920s and 1930s – it is after World War II that architecture loses its charm (at least for me).

  • Paul Marks

    Cass Gilbert hoped that his Supreme Court building (a rejection of Progressivism) might influence the judges to rule in accordance with the Constitution.

    Alas architecture can not achieve everything. Although I like to think that the Cass Gilbert West Virginia State Capitol building will survive a few years yet – if only as a memorial to a civilisation that is now dying (being murdered by the Marxists – including the Corporate establishment ones).

    My own feelings on modern architecture, such as the Shard in London, are similar to my view of TOTALLY abstract art.

    Modern art that distorts the human figure and distorts other things, angers me. But TOTALLY abstract art does NOT anger me – as it is jut a pattern, a decoration.

    I would not like to live in a place dominated by modernist tower blocks – but I can not say I am angered by the them. They are just there – like giant tomb stones. Nothing to be angry about unless they disfigure other buildings by their presence.

    What, for example, Governor Rockefeller did in Albany was terrible.

    Look at the setting of the Victorian State Capitol building before Mr Rockefeller created his blocks – and afterwards.

    I deny anyone not to be disgusted by what Governor Rockefeller did in the 1960s – and, no, it was NOT needed for more office space, he was just being a swine.

    My mother was horrified by what happened to London after World War II – the housing blocks and so on. But the lady was wrong to just blame the Labour Party – the Conservative Party was also to blame.