The OMA-designed Seattle Central Library (photo by Bobak Ha’Eri/Wikipedia)

You might think, in the year 2014, that the distastefulness of casual rape metaphors would be obvious. But you’d be wrong! In a blog post published today on the website Arch2o, Ivan Sergejev shares 20 “tips” for being a successful architect, based on his experience interning at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the firm co-founded by Rem Koolhaas. And there it is, coming in at number 8:

As far as free time goes, keep this joke in mind: “If you know you cannot avoid the rape, relax and enjoy”. At OMA, there will be “rape” (metaphorically speaking), so relax, forget about free time and enjoy your work.

Oh, but don’t get your panties in a twist. This is “rape,” not to be confused with real rape. The distinction reminds me of Kristen Schaal’s Daily Show primer on what qualifies as rape rape versus rape-ish — except hers was a parody.

Also, is that spectacularly unfunny sentence telling you to “relax and enjoy” “rape” really a “joke” that circulates among adult human beings?

The whole post reads like a horrible and bizarre treatise on what a tough and macho field architecture is. Tip 4? “Stress is the best motivator. That is why you produce your best work when you sleep 4 hours a night and work like crazy towards a deadline just a few days away. Masochistic, but great.” Tip 11? “Submission is better than fighting back.” Let’s now all take a moment to think — and read — about architecture’s abysmal gender gap.

According to his personal blog, Sergejev is “an architect, blogger, sci-fi fan and data center enthusiast based in Tallinn, Estonia,” currently working part time at Alver Architects. According to its Tumblr, the somewhat cryptic Arch2o “was founded in April 2012 as a new website where we review and critique architecture, urbanism, art, and design.” Its Facebook page elaborates:

Our staff is committed to ensuring the quality of the research submitted to our website. Our team members work collaboratively on a daily basis to brainstorm and debate about the most influential, innovative and often prestigious architectural practices, ideas and projects worthy of occupying our online space. We do this constantly in order deliver specific and valuable content. Like successful architectural teams, we have the passion to share radical discoveries, ambition to improve our readers’ knowledge, and desire to respond to their needs.

I’m so glad architecture-internship-as-offensive-rape-metaphor was deemed something that would improve readers’ knowledge. Something tells me the folks at OMA wouldn’t agree.

h/t @KillinIt247frvr

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...

11 replies on “Architecture Blogger Uses Terrible Rape Metaphor”

  1. Thank you for bringing attention to this. I imagine, as you suggest, that the folks at OMA wouldn’t agree. But then OMA themselves should be stepping up and taking issue with the fact that one of its former employees/charges is actively trivializing rape in the name of OMA business practice. This kind of thing is perpetuated by casual sexism and blindness to systemic oppressions across the profession.

  2. Just curious but why didn’t Hyperallergic comment on Shia LaBeouf’s rape
    claim? It took place inside an art gallery during an actual
    performance, seems like it would have been suitable for Hyperallergic’s
    interest in art. This site has an obvious focus on social issues that
    nominally revolves around art, but the reporting seems somewhat biased.
    Especially from Jillian Steinhauer, who is quickly managing to turn into
    a parody of herself.

    1. Wow, someone doesn’t like Jillian. And I think she rocks, but moving on … We didn’t comment on Shia LaBeouf’s rape claim, since I was (and still am) work on the story of an artist who actually deals with very similar issues and realities in his performance work and we thought his was a more extensive and nuanced investigation of the issue. I’m sure we’ll mention LaBeouf’s comments in that context.

      1. I think she sucks. Jillian Steinhauer is to Hyperallergic what Jonathan Jones is to The Guardian. To be honest, I think she’s only vaguely interested in art, her main passion seems to lie with topical social concerns. I’ll admit my own bias in this matter though, I dislike being bombarded with adolescent political concerns when I’m searching for news related to a completely different topic. It’s a bit like reading a science journal only to find headlines like “Would Carl Sagan Support Legalizing Weed?” or “Is Stephen Hawking’s use of a male voice app a suggested endorsement of a macho STEM culture?”.

        We’ll probably never see eye to eye on this, so all I can do is try to be as polite about this as possible until I can find an art blog that focuses squarely on art. So far, no dice.

        1. I disagree with this anonymous poster’s assessment of Jillian Steinhauer and hyperallergic in the strongest terms. I believe that sexism, racism and other forms of hate block highly talented artists. And we are all missing out when their work doesn’t see the light of day it deserves. If you care about artistic quality as much as me, I would hope you woukd find this hate maddening. It’s not objective. I see articles on hyperallergic that connect to social topics as opportunities to educate ourselves and rise above the hate. I believe that writers who crack absurd rape jokes in an effort to illuminate the virtues stoicism desrve to be called out. The writer could have better articulated this point through other means. Writers and communities of thinkers are stregnthened when held accountable and when dissent and opposing views are respected.
          Jillian performs a valuable service to the entire community through her diligent reporting. Its enlightening for me to read every day.

          1. I disagree with your assessment of Jillian Steinhauer in the mildest terms. Personally I don’t have a problem with a more even distribution of race or gender in galleries and museums, most art is terrible anyway so if you replaced all that bad white male art with work made by women I doubt there’d be any noticeable drop or increase in quality. My dislike for this site is just that I find the politics to be, generally, trivial. Not always, the gender disparity Jillian noted in a previous article was interesting, but for every one of those articles there’s five other ones complaining about how outrageous the term ‘soccer mom’ is, or this one where some architect no one cares about made some lame rape comment in a blog post no one read. Are these things worth writing about? Sure, why not, but it’s not the kind of news I personally care about. I already have streams of news sources that tell me how bad the world is, some architect’s comments made in bad taste on some blog post rank shockingly low in things I care about.

            Hyperallergic obvious isn’t the only channel in art that focuses on these things so it’s unfair of me to single Hrag or Jillian out. Most art streams do this, actually I hate reading Ben Davis for the same reasons, he tends to merge his terrible activist voice into his mediocre art analysis. Sorry folks, but I personally just don’t find any of this to be particularly insightful and I’d rather just get the art analysis without the selective social commentary.

            Honestly though, if Jillian gets outraged over terms like ‘soccer mom’ I’d hate to know what she thinks of Les Demoiselles.

  3. I have to say this is the most “childish” critic I have ever read. Arch2o is striking the social media over the last two years, because of the quality of their reviews and the fine selection of projects. They have made a lot of fans to follow them in a very short time, as I also believe they pulled the post out and apologized. However, for me it is not the issue, but everybody knows whats going on on OMA, if you dont, you may like to visit some websites like http://www.honestr.com/Archleaks_UK/OMA to find out what interns are saying about their experience and how things are going over there, it would be also a good chance to know what could be the meaning of “modern slavery” in OMA, like many other offices, that operate with exploitative work conditions on a weekly basis.

    The other thing is the way that Jillian criticized the article. A lot of reviewers discussed the article in a more professional way and you may google it online.

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