A photo of a sculpture on a Texas college campus went viral over the Memorial Day weekend for being an example of “mansplaining,” according to the New York woman who posted the photo to Twitter. The creator of the sculpture disagrees.
Cathy de la Cruz (@SadDiego) from Brooklyn, New York, posted the photo of the sculpture to Twitter with the caption: “A friend spotted this in Texas: #Mansplaining The Statue.”
The sculpture, named “Classmates,” at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in San Antonio depicts two students talking. The female student is seated on a bench with a book open in her lap. The male student has one leg propped up on the bench with both of his hands on one knee. The man is looking down toward the woman as she looks up at him.
The statue was unveiled on the college campus in 2006 and was created by a female alumni’s father, sculptor Paul Tadlock. The woman in the sculpture is modeled after Tadlock’s daughter.
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“The sculpture honors the past, present and future students of UIW,” Carl E. Myers, a social media and communications specialist for UIW, told Women in the World.
That is not the impression Ash Hernandez, 34, got from the sculpture when she saw it after attending a teacher’s certification test.
“The sculpture just screamed mansplaining,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez went to her car and retrieved her cell phone so she could snap a photo of the sculpture. She then “texted it to a few friends, including Cathy, to share the artist’s unintentional joke.”
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Hernandez, a self-proclaimed avid "tweeter" and feminist, works for an arts education nonprofit by day, freelances for a filmmaker, and is an aspiring comedian. She did not post the picture to Twitter immediately herself because she wanted to test the material first. One of her friends, a fellow feminist and stand-up comedian, approved of Hernandez’s “statue joke” and told her she wanted to see the photo go viral.
It did, after writer Ann Friedman shared the photo, The Daily Mail reports, with the slightly altered caption: “Mansplaining: The Statue (via @SadDiego).”
To date, the photo has been retweeted over 4,000 times and favorited by more than 4,600 Twitter users.
Plenty of Twitter users also chimed in with their own responses to the sculpture.
[email protected] @annfriedman Interesting. Where some see mansplaining, I see "I'm busy reading, asshole. Whatever you're doing won't work,” Aaron Weyenberg (@aweyenberg) tweeted.
[email protected] @1aprildaniels Bet you ten dollars he's telling her she'd be prettier if she smiled,” Eileen Shyler (@EileenShyler) tweeted.
What exactly is mansplaining?
According to The New York Times and their annual “The Words of the Year” compilation for 2010, a mansplainer is “a man compelled to explain or give an opinion about everything—especially to a woman. He speaks, often condescendingly, even if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or even if it’s none of his business. Old term: a boor.”
The college was unaware of what was happening on social media in regard to the statue, Myers said.
“The statue has long-symbolized the friendship and camaraderie that develops among students as they attend UIW,” Myers said. “We are deeply saddened that this image of friendship has been misconstrued as a symbol of sexism on social media. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
While Tadlock is “mildly amused” by the attention his statue has gotten, he says mansplaining was not an intended meaning for the sculpture.
“It was two students visiting, talking … implying nothing beyond that,” Tadlock insisted, refusing to consider mansplaining may have been done on a subconscious level.
Photo Credit: @SadDiego/Twitter