Female profs criticize OU decision to move statue of women called ‘The Gossips,’ offer more practical solutions

The University of Oklahoma is removing a statue called 'The Gossips' in favor of an installation that 'celebrates women.'

University community members were disappointed over the statue’s removal, with one noting that the sculpture was their favorite public artwork on campus.

The University of Oklahoma is moving  “The Gossips,” a statue depicts three women huddled closely in conversation, in favor of an installation that “celebrates women.”

OU Daily, the school’s student newspaper, reports that although the university has not issued a statement explaining the statue’s removal, a spokesperson told the outlet that the university will replace it with a piece that “celebrates women.” 

The original sculpture will be moved to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

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Per OU Daily’s reporting, the statue was removed at the behest of community members and the OU Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues — a body that exists to promote the interests of women at the University of Oklahoma, particularly for “women engaged in research, teaching, and administration.”

Among other activities, the group addresses “issues of concern to women at OU” and makes “suggestions about these issues to the Provost.”

University of Oklahoma community members on social media were by no means in consensus about the statue’s removal. Indeed, many users engaging with OU Daily’s tweet about the article wrote disappointed comments about the statue’s removal.

In particular, some female professors expressed disagreement with the decision and offered alternative ideas.

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“Can we keep the statue and get rid of the gender pay disparity instead?” tweeted anthropology professor Katherine Hirschfeld.

“I did not know the name of the statue but it was actually my favorite sculpture on campus. Wish they could have just renamed it!” remarked accounting professor Frances Ayres.

Joining the critique was self-identified local transgender rights activist Daniel Dukes

“Wow- that piece was celebrating social circles, community, solidarity amongst women and sisterhood,” he added. “I think whoever was ‘offended’ needs to look past the ‘gossip’ title.”

In a statement to Campus Reform, OU News said that “After many inquiries from OU community members and alumni, and at the request of and in consultation with the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues, it was determined to rotate the statue from its location next to the student union with a piece that celebrates women’s leadership at the University of Oklahoma.”

OU News also confirmed that the statue is currently located in the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. 

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