Cemen and the Standing Woman

So we’re in NYC and DC for the girls’ spring break this week. Kids from their school are on a school trip here too, but we didn’t let the girls go on the school trip. Not because we’re over protective or anything like that. But basically because we’re cheap. To go on the trip with the school was something like $2800 per child. We knew we could take the whole family for far less than the $5600 that it would have cost to send both girls with the school…so off we went on an East Coast adventure.

One of the things we just had to do while in NYC was take in a Broadway show…and with our ties to the Mormon Church, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity for $69 Book of Mormon tickets. Matt and Trey are more than a little raunchy, and the BOM is full of little boy humour…but at its heart it is a very sweet story about overcoming adversity through faith and hope and loving one another.


There are running penis gags throughout the play and our laughter carried through to the next day, which we spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There seemed to be penises everywhere and we just couldn’t stop giggling. The first area we entered was full of Greek and Roman statues and we noticed that the most masculine of the men were all missing their maleness, while the little tiny boy babies had been able to hold on to their bulges.

We then entered a room filled with Papau New Guinean art and came across these amazing things called Bis Poles.


Each pole is carved from a single piece of wood.   The carvers select trees with huge roots and remove all but one of the roots. They then invert the tree and form the one remaining root into a wing-like projection called a cemen. The plaque says “The cemen represents the pole’s phallus…which is associated with fertility.”

It was all a little confusing, because their seemed to be a phallus underneath the phallus…so we determined that the smaller phallus must be that of the deceased ancestor represented in the bis, and the larger phallus was the pole’s or the bis’s phallus? Made sense to us, anyway. I like how this particular guy is holding his “bis”ness.


Eventually we left the phallic room and I came across this lady, called Standing Woman, by Gaston Lachaise. We had passed by Miros and Picassos, O’Keefes and Degas. But this bronze statue of this strong standing woman struck me to my core. I fell instantly in love. I related to her body shape (although I’m flat chested and have more of a Buddha belly). I loved her standing on her tippy toes with her eyes closed and her arms upraised.


I’m not sure what she’s doing…but she seems to be so in the moment. Fully engulfed in whatever’s going on with her. I relate to her because I’m a strong standing woman. There have been many things in my life that have knocked me to my knees. There have been times I’ve felt smashed flat. But I’m still standing…and standing tall. I’ve had a health problem (or two), and my brain doesn’t work quite like other people’s. But I have learned to close my eyes, breath deeply, and truly enjoy myself.

I am a woman standing. And for that I am grateful. I love seeing other women standing. Women who aren’t worrying about what they look like…or even noticing if others are looking at them or not. Women standing tall and growing taller…up on their tippy toes. Reaching for the sky. Standing women. Woman Standing.

 The love in me toasts to the love in her. Standing woman.



One thought on “Cemen and the Standing Woman

  1. l ❤️ this so much! And not just because I was considering ‘PENIS’ as my next blog title just for more traffic. The artwork is fascinating and so skilled, and your words are funny, warm, and encouraging. Stand strong, sister…

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