I found this tag on a pole in a public park in Portland, and found it to be hilarious and taboo. The idea of fondling oneself in public is highly stigmatized as anything having to do with the genitals is considered unclean. This tag challenges the notion of self policing as it dares the viewer to go against social norms. Foucault introduced the concept of the panopticon, which relates to the self policing aspect of society that keeps people from fondling themselves in public. The panopticon originally referred to a prison that was designed as a circular tower in which the warden was situated at the top and could view all of the inmates with a single glance, yet the inmates are unable to see if they are being watched or not, inspiring them to always behave. The concept of the panopticon has been expanded to represent schools, factories, hospitals, and asylums; emphasizing the omnipresence of power that has lead individuals within civil society to self police.
Our landlord isn’t too concerned with her tenant’s wellbeing. This is the imaginary alarm system protecting my house. Although it is still hooked up to the electricity and appears to be functional, in reality it hasn’t worked in twenty years. This keypad and warning sign are two of many strategically placed devices that relate a message to potential intruders that this house is under constant surveillance. All the windows have a circular monitor on them connected to a wire insinuating that an alarm would sound if any windows were broken. Another blinking keypad lies right within view through the front window. These devices certainly served a tangible purpose in the early 90’s, but now only help to persist Bentham’s idea of panoptical surveillance. Hopefully, the fake system serves to frighten away thieves or criminals by creating a false sense of surveillance and a gamble that many intruders would not risk.
Do you remember in class how I said a friend said her old department would drag out Jeremy Bentham’s body for faculty meetings, but I couldn’t remember (ahem, believe) the details?