Student artist tackles gender binary with Sex Symbol

Sex SymbolAs part of UWaterloo’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, Arts student Madeline Samms set out to challenge the binary system of gender and sexuality. In her latest project, Sex Symbol, Samms combines two traditional symbols that denote male or female on public signs and adds a gender-neutral intermediary holding hands. 

Samms found inspiration for her piece in traditional washrooms signage, which depicts gender as a binary in most cases. Sex Symbol seeks to challenge traditional ways of thinking, showcasing gender fluidity and equality. 

From the day we are born we are categorized and expected to follow gender norms. Society is gender-binary; everything from schools, to gyms, even job applications push citizens to identify as male or female. Because of the expectation that everyone will fall into these two categories, most public spaces are not inclusive to all genders.

Exit sign

Despite getting approval for her work, a large number of symbols have been taken down around campus. “It’s a problem you'll always run into with this kind of installation,” Samms laments. 

The student artist did not become discouraged however, and continued to install her design at a different site each day of the campaign. Along with the many other 16 Days initiatives, Sex Symbol thus played a major part in furthering conversations about gender equality over the past two weeks.

On International Human Rights Day and the final day of UW's 16 Days Initiative, Madeline has some last thoughts for her peers.  

I hope this project has sparked conversations about gender within the University of Waterloo community. I in no way claim my view on gender-based is superior to another persons, that's not what this symbol was about. It's saying here's my opinion and I want to hear yours.

If you're interested in getting involved in 16 Days of Activism in the future, Madeline suggests following the official Facebook page or keeping up with Rutgers University which leads the campaign.

In the meantime, discover the gender-neutral restrooms on campus via this comprehensive map created by the Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

  1. 2018 (56)
    1. December (1)
    2. November (5)
    3. October (7)
    4. September (4)
    5. August (1)
    6. July (2)
    7. June (5)
    8. May (8)
    9. April (3)
    10. March (7)
    11. February (5)
    12. January (8)
  2. 2017 (62)
    1. December (3)
    2. November (7)
    3. October (7)
    4. September (4)
    5. July (4)
    6. June (7)
    7. May (7)
    8. April (3)
    9. March (8)
    10. February (7)
    11. January (5)
  3. 2016 (73)
    1. December (2)
    2. November (5)
    3. October (6)
    4. September (6)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (6)
    7. June (8)
    8. May (9)
    9. April (6)
    10. March (9)
    11. February (7)
    12. January (5)
  4. 2015 (65)
    1. December (5)
    2. November (6)
    3. October (3)
    4. September (4)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (4)
    7. June (5)
    8. May (6)
    9. April (5)
    10. March (9)
    11. February (7)
    12. January (7)
  5. 2014 (88)
    1. December (3)
    2. November (8)
    3. October (9)
    4. September (8)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (9)
    7. June (8)
    8. May (9)
    9. April (7)
    10. March (8)
    11. February (7)
    12. January (8)
  6. 2013 (38)
    1. December (4)
    2. November (8)
    3. October (10)
    4. September (8)
    5. August (8)