#CocksNotGlocks — UT Austin students fight for dick-swinging rights

Jessica Jin, founder of "Cocks not Glocks," at a protest in Austin, Texas, U.S. August 24, 2016. (Image: REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz)
Jessica Jin, founder of “Cocks not Glocks,” at a protest in Austin, Texas, U.S. August 24, 2016. (Image: REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz)

Thousands of students at the University of Texas, Austin carried giant dildos around campus last week to protest the state’s lax gun laws. Student Jessica Jin created “Cocks Not Glocks” in response to a Texas bill, which, as of August, allows for the open carry of guns in all public Universities in the state. “We’re just going to normalize sex culture in the same way that they’re normalizing gun culture and see how they feel about it,” says Jin.

The thousands of veiny phalluses are meant to cause discomfort for pro-gun conservatives in the same way that an openly carried weapon would cause discomfort for those who fear for their safety, due to gun violence. Jin explained, “We want to force that kind of conscientiousness on people who are so ingrained in gun culture that they don’t understand the impact they’re having on the people around them.”

There’s only one problem with the basic premise of this protest: a dildo is hardly a foil to a gun. A gun is already a phallic object. It’s a symbol of power and a threat of violence. Many American males open carry for the very purpose of performing a threatening display of machismo. UT Austin students claim to be concerned with gun violence and the increase in mass shootings occurring in public places such as schools. Yet with nearly every single mass shooter being male, it is astounding that they have failed to sufficiently make the connection between gun violence and masculinity.

Cocks Not Glocks is meant to simultaneously protest Texas obscenity laws (both the University and state law prohibit displays of “obscene items”) which protesters characterize as restrictions on “free sexual expression.” Jin and co. position their movement for “sex-positivity” in contrast to the stodgy old pro-gun conservatives. But “sex culture” cannot be placed in opposition to “gun culture.” Between porn’s dominating male gaze and gun culture’s macho toxic masculinity, both are thoroughly pro-dick.

A writer at Bustle claims the protest uses “sexuality” as “an extremely powerful, norm-defying weapon in the face of injustice.” It makes sense that the liberal mainstream are fans of this style of activism — the Cocks Not Glocks protest perfectly exemplifies the ideology of queer activism, which celebrates “performances” that transgress social norms (such as public masturbation) as a revolutionary act for positive social change.

Foundational queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick lists several queer performances of “identity” as examples that challenge the normative “monolith” of religious, capitalist state power: “leatherfolk, ladies in tuxedoes… masturbators, bulldaggers, divas, Snap! queens, butch bottoms… lesbian-identified men or lesbians who sleep with men… ”

Who knew that BDSM leather fetishists and all those men masturbating on the subway were actually nobly challenging oppressive state power and capitalism — wow! And men obsessively trying to sleep with lesbians are probably just trying to subversively “queer” sexuality… by having heterosexual sex.

Cocks Not Glocks is yet another example of queer activism which touts itself as subversively challenging the status quo while actually doing nothing more than celebrating the mundane patriarchal phenomenon of sexualized transgression. Uncomfortable with my massive plastic penetration rod in your learning space? Get over it! The protest has gained enormous media coverage, as news outlets gleefully take the opportunity to run images of pretty young college women smiling while groping erect phalluses and wearing t-shirts that say “Take It and Come.” A golden chance for marketing to key demographics, porn companies such as Hustler have donated thousands of their products to be distributed on campus.

I have yet to see any media mention of the female UT students who are less than eager to playfully juggle colorful peens for the camera. It seems that Cocks Not Glocks forgot to consider the way survivors of sexual assault might be triggered by the omnipresent dildos. Instead, Jin encourages students who are less cool with the protest to “strap it on” anyway, and “deal with the discomfort” in the name of their sex-positive cause.

How in the world did we get here? It seems that somewhere along the way, the American liberal value of tolerance morphed into meaning tolerance for dicks shoved in your face — especially for women.

While Jessica Jin’s desire to combat gun violence is certainly a noble one, a campaign premised on equating safety and freedom with masculinity and male-centered sexuality seems like it would only serve to feed the culture of male sexual entitlement contributing to so many mass shootings. Aren’t women confronted with public erections enough? At the very least, let’s agree that, since we already live under a patriarchy, ensuring dicks have enough freedom of “sexual expression” is one issue we don’t need to stress over.

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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  • radwonka

    Thats a good example of rape culture: forcing people to watch/sex/feel/etc sex or sexual acts. + Defining what “sexuality” is and labelling others as negative (the new “prude”) if they dont agree. Wow so much freedom! So positive!
    And the phallus is celebrated among conservatives and anyone who is misogynistic (99%of males), so it is just useless and stupid. The phallus equals power and domination. Using porn norms to shock libertarians when libertarians created porn and all are pro objectification? Funny.
    And it implies that pornsick males are not pro guns and/or progressive. Funny.
    These people are so obsessed with patriarchal sex that they use any opportunity to normalize it, their activism is just a stupid excuse.

    Consciousness my ass, they are disgusting. Pornisck activists.

    And the fact that the dick represents (and essentialize) their vision of sexuality says it all. You couldnt be more conservative than that.

  • Wire Bead

    So, at UT Austin, female students have to study with either guns in their face or dicks in their face. Or both. And just learn to “deal with the discomfort”.

    This is the new sound, just like the old sound.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    Ooooh, SEX! So EDGE! Much COOL!
    Yawn.

    • Rachel

      Ha ha pretty much! It actually scares me how much sex has become fetishised in and of itself. People are so weird about a completely natural thing, to the point that it’s not natural anymore. It has no meaning except for beinh a sleaze fest now where women are objectified to the point of self-objectification. It’s no wonder it’s so hard to trust men when they immediately go to sleaze town when they think of sex. And my first thought was – “yea I’m sure men are going to be really intimidated and uncomfortable with young women flaunting dildos around.” *eye roll*. Won’t be long until they start offering money to the girls to use it and girls using them for money and to “exert their power and self expression” even more. Oh yep you really told them boys! It’s sad that the only people who are made to feel uncomfortable are other women. And those other women are probably women who are opposed to gun laws also. Blegh. I really hate this sex crazed weirdo world we live in sometimes.

      • radwonka

        “And my first thought was – “yea I’m sure men are going to be really intimidated and uncomfortable with young women flaunting dildos around.” *eye roll*.”

        lmao exactly! I bet that both leftists and the right wing must be so scaaaaared to see the phallus everywhere!

  • Alienigena

    exp”Who knew that BDSM leather fetishists and all those men masturbating on
    the subway were actually nobly challenging oppressive state power and
    capitalism…”

    This relates to a question I had about trans women who expressed the desire to freely display their male genitals in public change rooms originally designated female only. If men are still being arrested for exposing themselves to children and teens (mostly girls) as they are in my country (there was a recent case in the province adjoining mine) why is it OK for biological men to expose themselves in change rooms intended for biological females and into which they bring their young children (both genders) as well. Why is identifying as a woman sufficient to grant you access to behave in ways that in any other contexts would be considered lewd (e.g. public display of nudity in parks, exposing yourself on transit, in libraries, etc.) and garner you a warning or an arrest.

  • Hierophant2

    “Then there’s the fact that “anti-gun” for them means only wanting to deprive ordinary citizens of guns. Do any of these liberals want to take guns away from people in the police or military? No, no matter how many times they misuse them. The ability of the state to commit violence is legitimate in their view.”

    So much agreement on this. And who are in the police and military? By and large, roid raging, violent men who see the people they’re supposed to serve as target practice. They are killers.

  • Alienigena

    I don’t agree that these ‘cartoon’ phallus’ are harmless. I think the obsession that some women, like men, have for male genitalia is a bit disturbing. I remember my sister’s friend having a dick lighter (not fluorescent pink, more realistic flesh tone and vein-y), a number of mainstream movies were fixated on male genitalia (American comedies from 1980s (with lines like my penis is so powerful I could use it as a hammer, I am paraphrasing here) as well as a German or Dutch film where the men literally get out their calipers to compare the sizes of their penises), more recently phallus-themed party favours and baked goods for bridal showers, etc. I think there is too much coverage of phallus’ and even mocking images just reinforce the view that the imagery and men are the default normal while women’s anatomy is not normal. A female acquaintance referred to her breasts as “balls that were just higher up” (she was an artist/filmmaker). I mean, why all the male references to female anatomy. When I was taking classes in film animation there was a woman who would say things like ‘men, all they want is’ … and she would proceed to draw a penis (actually cock and balls, like the drawing an adolescent boy would create) on whatever was immediately to hand. I mean just think of the term phallocentric. The only place I have willingly (so to speak) exposed myself to phallus’ are life drawing classes. They are part of the male form. I’d rather live my life sans phallus’ (goofy looking or realistic). I don’t think any attention is bad for most men (negative or positive, as long as it is directed toward them).

  • Laura

    thank you, well said!!

  • Mar Iguana

    #CocksAreGlocks

  • Mar Iguana

    Totem poles. (Sorry. I couldn’t stop myself.)

  • Wire Bead

    What “shit post” that responded to Jin’s post are you speaking of? Has it been deleted?
    I don’t see it.

  • OldPolarBear

    So many excellent points in this comment; I might have minor areas of disagreement here and there, but mostly agree. I hear “liberals” insisting on “gun control” after every incident and I’m not against some sort of regulation, but never quite convinced, either. I find myself thinking, “Are we violent because we have so many guns, or do we have so many guns because we are inclined to be violent?” and it really seems to be the latter. And yes, also the massive quantities of armaments we pour out into the world, weapons of mass destruction, which are used to slaughter 10 times as many people as are killed by domestic guns, as awful as those are.

  • Rachel

    Ah that’s so true – good point! Women either be uncomfortable and “deal with it” which also includes being called a prude. Or get on board the fun fem train.

  • Meghan Murphy

    This is kind of an aside, but I just wanted to respond to this point: ‘The article also notes Jin’s conservative upbringing, so it’s pretty easy to see how she would embrace the liberal Hefner “feminism” that pervades university campuses and experience that as radical.’

    I find this is a really big problem, in general, in terms of the way Americans approach feminism. The religious right — and Christianity more generally — is much more dominant in the US than in Canada. Religion isn’t central to our discourse at all here. So many American feminists come from a religious background and are (or see themselves as) rebelling against that. This is why “purity” dominates their discourse so strongly and why they operate in this binary “sex is good/radical — anything that is critical of ‘sex’ is bad/repressive.” I do wish they’d step out of their Amerientric approach and realize that not everyone comes from a religious background and feminism/feminist discourse therefore, should not be centered primarily around pushing back against against ‘purity culture’ and the Christian right. It’s incredibly weird and frustrating to me that, as a person who came from a family that was vehemently opposed to organized religion and who never even *knew* a single person who was religious, growing up, that my critiques of sex and sexuality, under patriarchy, are painted as somehow connected to the religious right/prudishness/moralism (in a religious sense), etc. I know I complain a lot about the self-absorption of Americans, but this is why. They turn *their* limited experience/perspective into dominant discourse and don’t even both to imagine that not everyone lives in the US, and not everyone grew up in their weird culture.

    • Mira

      Beautifully put Megan.

      I live in America, and was raised Muslim. I stopped practicing at the age of 12.

      Your point is so wonderful, it just really hit the spot. You make a valid point about how being “liberal” here is trying to be the opposite of the religious right.

      I so detest the word “prude”. So it’s prudish of me to not participate in watching violent porn? It’s prudish of me to dress more conservatively because I feel that men in this society have their bodies covered, so why should mine be on display? I’m prudish because I don’t agree with BDSM culture, and violent/aggressive acts in bed that are derogatory towards another human being?

      A lot of young people, especially young feminists in the US think they are so edgy and liberal, however, they really have been ensnared by the trap of patriarchy, and they cannot even see it. :/

      • Sally Hansen

        exactly. totally agree. what’s really ironic about it is that liberal ideology falls so in line with a lot of christian thinking. there are a lot of parallels with BDSM and Christian gender roles. There are tons of parallels between liberal men telling women what they should and shouldn’t like, and Christian men controlling women’s sexuality. two sides of the same coin, really.

    • Cassandra

      Yup. I’m American and it’s incredibly frustrating. I live in a big liberal city and if you criticize the sexualizing of everything people think you’re conservative. It’s so stupid.

    • Susan Cox

      Such a good point!

  • Sabine

    Great. Swapping one male weapon for another one. Right on.

  • Susan Cox

    The dissonance is astounding.

    • Melanie

      Hustler also sells t-shirts glorifying guns, including one titled ‘Gun Control’ that seems to imply that a good way to control a woman is with a gun. Maybe they could wear them to the protest along with their Hustler brand dildos. It would make about as much sense.

      • Sabine

        The whole thing is really nauseating. I mean…seriously? What on earth were they thinking?!!! Hustler…dear god….

  • Cassandra

    The cock is a symbol of violence and domination. Hell, so much of the time it *is* violence and domination.

    #ACTIVISMFAIL

    • Melanie

      Men have used dildos to sexually harass women on campus, and many women have been sexually assaulted with them. I can see the potential for some male students to use this as an opportunity to harass women on campus. I’m pretty sure that creating such an environment would meet the
      definition of sexual harassment in itself if somebody were to complain. Maybe a sexual assault survivor who just wants to study without anxiety and stress or a mother who would like to drop her child off at the campus childcare without them being exposed to sex toys?

    • Sally Hansen

      I love that image that Nikki Craft posted of a giant penis that her and her mom put on a cannon. pretty powerful statement about war and the imperialistic violation imperative of masculinity.

  • Susan Cox

    Yes, I have gotten back to Jessica. I appreciate her reaching out. I also appreciate the motive behind her actions. I believe in the power of dialogue between women, and that disagreement need not breed incivility. We will hopefully get a chance to have a chat soon.

  • I would have found it stressful being on campus with all these dildos around back when I was a young university student. I still wouldn’t like it today, but it would be easier to tune out now. I don’t think my being a sexual assault survivor really has much to do with it, though, given how penis-centric society is in general. Even if I hadn’t been abused as a child, just dealing with male attitudes in my 20s was enough to put me off. I mean, we all live in a pornified world these days.

    I understand that the whole thing started as a joke. I think the reason it took off is because it was a superficial way of making fun of gun culture. I think that if you had tried a more thoughtful approach that addressed the concerns here, it would probably not have been as successful.

  • Siren

    So transgressive! But hey kids, why not a ‘Cunts not Guns’ demo featuring huge plastic vulvas? Too shocking? Because it would be shut down in seconds on obscenity grounds? Because it wouldn’t be as dick pleasing to the frat boys?

    • Sally Hansen

      exactly. men wanna see teenagers posing with huge dicks in their mouths, not hairy vulvas and sisterly love. this is all a gimmick. i’m tired of this shit. why not make an actual statement about female sexuality? they won’t. they don’t know what it is. they are too male-identified.

  • Esther

    No cocks, no glocks, no male cultural violence nor sexual nor physical

  • radwonka

    I’m a survivor too, but I’ll never forgive you for celebrating and using something that is symbolic of rape/patriarchal culture to fight gun culture and (lmao) male violence. The phallus has been used to terrorize women since forever and now we are forced to “reappropriate” it? What kind of nonsense.

    So stop acting as if survivors are a monolith and that all of us will agree with that shit.

    It is possible to fight patriarchy without… using patriarchal tactics, patriarchal norms and patriarchal symbols you know. How is forcing people to see/watch the phallus different than men forcing women to watch/touch their cock? Especially in a society where women can’t even eat a banana without men sexualising them -against their will-. So… what’s so subversive and deep about that? Like… can we stop 2 seconds with this “lets reapprioprate patriarchy!! so funny! so subversive!” ideology? If you think that men are impressed, even conservatives (who have a sexuality no different than what yall call “sex positive sexuality” btw), then let me tell that you’re wrong.

    Find me a majority of libertarians, leftists or right wing or both, who’ll say to you: “oh my! thanks! now that I’ve seen so many dildos I’ve completely changed! you’ve opened my eyes! I won’t think that women are sex objects anymore!”.

    You can’t shock a class, using the same tools and the same mentality they already used to oppress and humiliate women. That”s not how it works. But you’ll probably make them laugh, and help them to normalize such behavior in the name of “activism” and “it’s funny and subversive”.

    • Wire Bead

      “So stop acting as if survivors are a monolith and that all of us will agree with that shit.”. Exactly.

  • Sally Hansen

    These are the same type of people who campaign for ending unsolicited dick-pics on the internet, yet in real life shove actual phallic objects in our faces as a form of “protest”. I am so fucking sick of the hypocrisy of Post-Modernism.

  • Sally Hansen

    Why don’t they get that they are supporting rape culture with this…? liberals are very big on critiquing rape culture… yet perpetuate it every single chance they get. This is totally enraging. I don’t wanna go to school with dildos in my face, just like I don’t wanna go to school with guns under people’s shirts.

  • Sally Hansen

    exactly. what am i scared of? being raped. by men who don’t care about my boundaries. they have penises. they want to violate me. its been done to me before. i have no inkling to use my dildo ever again. i’ve been tempted to throw it out several times, but i can’t bare to take it out of the drawer to look at it. i don’t want to see dildos everywhere i go on a college campus as a form of “protest”. its not a form of protest. its a violation of women’s safety and well-being on campus. combating bad school polices with other bad policies is not the way to go. she could have chosen to talk about female sexuality in a far more constructive way, and she did not choose that route. no, i’m not interested in the liberal line on sexuality. that’s the line that got me sexually assaulted SEVERAL TIMES. i’m not interested in someone being dismissive of my lived experiences because its “sex negative” in their view. you know what’s ACTUALLY sex negative? shoving dicks in unsuspecting people’s faces. and then telling them to get over it.

    • Morag999

      ‘you know what’s ACTUALLY sex negative? shoving dicks in unsuspecting people’s faces. and then telling them to get over it.’

      Exactly. It’s a complete reversal of terms, which is a covert abuser’s tactic. In general, I view sex(ist)-positive queer activism as psychological warfare against women and children.

  • Rurik Omnibus

    Such is exemplified by the likes of Lena Dunham, “empowering” women to accept whatever abuse men choose to bestow on them.

  • deci

    My wife along with many other women use dildos, so its not merely a symbol of male dominance. In this case, the protest is pointing out the hypocrisy in how we freak about sexual matters yet show little concern with violent symbolism. It has nothing to do with “patriarchy”. However, a “cunts not guns” protest with people waving around vulvas is not a bad idea either. Unfortunately, radfems would probably find some reason to condemn vulvas as “tools of the patriarchy” as well.

  • Morag999

    “There’s probably also no rape, no wage gap, no trafficking and no misogynist little-big-men like yourself trolling around feminist sites, subjecting the little ladies to your empty and irrelevant non-thought.”

    It was all a bad dream. Something we cooked up in our over-heated feminine imaginations. The truth is, they love us. They really love us. We must stop questioning how they show it, and surrender to their tough, guiding love. They’re so kind, they’ll even allow us to believe cock-celebrating surrender was OUR idea that we chose using our own sexy agency.

  • Lavender

    100% agree. Thanks to the objectivity that being single for a good stretch of time will give you, I look at the situations my friends are in and I secretly feel bad for them as I listen to how they negotiate with jerks who are tolerable because they’re not ‘that bad’ or are marginally better than the last guy. This is why I laugh when coupled people feel sorry for me. Even the least dysfunctional people I know have arguments with their partners and I have zero desire to waste ANY of my time arguing with a man. Why would I want to add to the stress and disappointment in my life? No amount of good sex would be worth it. I simply don’t believe, after all the guys I’ve known and dated, that there’s a man out there who isn’t sexist – and even if there are a few needles in that haystack – the statistical likelihood of my meeting one of them who’s available as I’m creeping up to 40 and interested in same age/older men is infinitesimal. As much as it would be nice to share some intimacy with a decent man and maybe even a relationship, that’s just a fantasy to me. And as depressing as that reality is, I’m much happier never having to overcome being hurt and disappointed than lying to myself to keep a man in my life that I don’t need or really want.

  • varyas99

    What’s the right way to protest?