The genteel world of New Zealand pottery has been rocked by a row over plans for a ceramic dildo-making workshop, sparking allegations of bullying and online abuse.
Ceramicist Nicole Gaston said that she wanted the Wellington Potters’ Association to hold the event with Iza Lozano, a visiting Mexican artist who has conducted similar workshops in her homeland.
Gaston said that pottery dildos are easily sterilized, can be warmed and, unlike latex versions, do not pose the risk of leeching chemicals into the body.
“Some of the oldest ceramic works ever found are of phalluses,” she said. “This isn’t exactly brand new. People have been doing this for thousands of years.”
However, the 41-year-old public servant said the backlash against the proposal was so extreme that she quit her voluntary role as president of the Wellington Potters’ Association.
“Some committee members said it was needlessly provocative, someone else said it wasn’t appropriate,” she said. “There was this very reactionary, pearl-clutching response, like ‘how can we talk about sex, we should be ashamed of it.’”
Gaston said many men seemed to find the idea of women making dildos emasculating and she resigned when opposition began to include personal attacks.
“It’s not like we would have forced anyone to take part in the workshop,” she said. “If you’re not interested, stay at home.”
Gaston said that she was also attacked online.
“I saw on Reddit that someone called me a ‘nutcase’ and I thought: ‘I may be a little outspoken, but I don’t think I’m crazy,” she said.
The dildo furor is not Gaston’s first experience with spicy ceramics — she won an award in 2018 for her work entitled Vagina Teapot.
She was surprised at how polarizing the dildo workshop plan became, saying that she had envisaged it as an empowering project that was positive about sex.
There has been support from some Wellington Potters’ Association members, including Vivian Rodriguez, who acknowledged that the workshop would challenge the moral ideas of some people.
“At the same time it will provide an excellent avenue for those wanting to explore different types of creative expression, gender identity and sexual empowerment through art,” Rodriguez wrote in a letter to the association’s governing committee.
The association did not respond to requests for comment.
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