‘Gender-Diverse Women’s College’ Won’t Use Female Gender Symbol Because It’s ‘Offensive’

A Massachusetts all-women’s college found out the hard way that any attempt to include anything relating to gender or sex will be met with scorn in today’s society.
Mount Holyoke College (MHC) officials tried to commission a new logo for the school that included the initials MHC sideways, so that the “H” and the “C” formed the female gender symbol – known as the Venus symbol.
This angered students and alumni who don’t identify as women, and the school was forced to apologize and withdraw the logo design:
This past Thursday, we had the occasion to solicit feedback on the design firm’s identity work from a group of students. We listened to feedback regarding the use of the Venus symbol as an option for the brand identity and logo, as proposed by the consultants. It is now evident to us that this symbol has a long history of exclusion connected to movements that, while trailblazing for some groups, represents the erasure of others.
We have thus determined that the College cannot move forward with a word mark that references this symbol as we rethink how we will distinguish Mount Holyoke College. While it is always disappointing to realize that our creative work has not achieved its goals, it is deeply upsetting to realize that the work is seen as offensive and damaging.
Charles L. Greene II, Vice President of the Office of Communications and Marketing wrote the lengthy statement apologizing for the symbol, which apparently is not “trans-inclusive.”
The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that the Venus symbol is offensive to those who identify as transgender or nonbinary and quoted alumni Tessa Ann Schwarz, who took her dismay to Twitter.
“Speaking as one of those trans alums, you all will not be getting my money until this is changed, and I am not alone,” Schwarz tweeted.
MHC spokeswoman Keely Savoie told the Gazette that the school would scrap the proposed logo and try again with a new design in January.
“This decision to pursue a new look and feel grew out of a comprehensive, institutional planning process,” Savoie told the Gazette. “Developing a new logo was part of our comprehensive approach to update and strengthen the reputation of the institution as a modern, global, innovative force in education.”
MHC was originally a women-only college, but established a policy in 2014 that allowed the school to formally admit trans women (biological men who identify as women).
“We recognize that what it means to be a woman is not static,” MHC President Lynn Pasquerella said at the time. “Just as early feminists argued that reducing women to their biological functions was a foundation of women’s oppression, we acknowledge that gender identity is not reducible to the body.”
A year later, trans activists succeeded in shutting down a performance of the “Vagina Monologues” because it was not trans-inclusive. Eve Ensler, the creator of the Monologues, penned a response saying she was “surprised” by MHC’s response to her work, and insisted it was not exclusive and noted that an all-trans rendition was performed in 2004.
"The Vagina Monologues never intended to be a play about what it means to be a woman. It is and always has been a play about what it means to have a vagina. In the play, I never defined a woman as a person with a vagina," she wrote.
Earlier this year, MHC issued a guide to professors at the school asking them to stop calling students “women” or referring to “the two genders.”
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