UT-Austin Anthropology's dildo display — dubbed ‘Big Boy' — immortalizes Cocks Not Glocks protest

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Karoline Husbond, an anthropology exchange student from Denmark, works on the fourth floor of the Student Activity Center next to a dildo on display in the anthropology department.The phallus is an artifact of the 2016 Cocks Not Glocks protest.

Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

The anthropology department has three display cases on the fourth floor of the Student Activity Center that hold various objects of anthropological significance. Two hold large gorilla skeletons. The other holds a dildo.

“If you don’t look too closely, you don’t even notice it because it’s just sort of in the background,” associate anthropology professor Craig Campbell said. “It looks like it’s supposed to be there.”

The phallus was erected in the SAC by Campbell in 2016 at the height of the Cocks Not Glocks protest. The protest involved students openly brandishing dildos, an action prohibited by Texas Penal code, to challenge the Campus Carry law passed that year allowing licensed gun owners to carry firearms into university facilities.

Campbell said he had been thinking about creative ways to use the display case and saw the protest as an opportunity to use anthropology to talk about the issues raised by the movement.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in taking a big political position with this but (instead) use it as a teachable moment to think through and play with some of those ideas and show the way anthropology can be used to understand current events,” Campbell said. “It coyly takes a position but not very seriously.”

The 11-inch phallus, dubbed “Big Boy” by the manufacturer, sits under a spotlight next to an explanation of the display written by Campbell. An advertisement from the manufacturer, Doc Johnson, is pasted on the wall behind it.  

“There is archaeological evidence that the phallus has been a symbol of sexual potency and fertility in many societies throughout human history,” the explanation reads. “In many parts of the United States such phalli were illegal to sell and to own. For example the ‘obscene device law’ which prohibited the ownership and sale of phalli among other things, was entered into the State of Texas penal code in (1973).”

Campbell purchased the toy in the color “Gunmetal Grey,” developed the display and pitched the idea to the department in a mass email to see if they would approve the display.

Although Campbell said he intended it to be more of an academic display than a political statement, anthropology graduate student Angelina Locker said she sees the display as a silent way to continue the conversation that Cocks Not Glocks started.

“(The phallus) does a really good job in creating a bit of discomfort in people who see the display, so it’s almost pushing (people) to engage in these discussions,” Locker said. “It’s kind of like a silent reminder that hey, this is ongoing, this is problematic for some people, campus carry can create uncomfortable spaces on campus, so let’s continue that dialogue.”

Marco Islas, a biology and biochemistry junior, said despite the display’s jarring appearance, he also likes the ideas behind it and feels it should be more prominently displayed.

“It’s in a very confined and hidden place,” Islas said. “Knowing Austin and knowing UT and what this stands for, I feel like it should be given a more prominent display and location. It has a story. Maybe it was a taboo in the past, but now it stands for something.”