Recently went through the archives of Cabinet of the solar plexus and found the work of Jean Gabriel Daragnès, here some woodcuts used for Paul Verlaine’s Femmes. Gorgeous erotica, exquisite, accompanied by Verlaine’s Moonlight.
Recently went through the archives of Cabinet of the solar plexus and found the work of Jean Gabriel Daragnès, here some woodcuts used for Paul Verlaine’s Femmes. Gorgeous erotica, exquisite, accompanied by Verlaine’s Moonlight.
(For Jennifer Josephy) On cold days it is easy to be reasonable, to button the mouth against kisses, dust the breasts with talcum powder
The male gaze on lesbian sexuality taints it with power. I’m not sure which side the power comes from
How well could Slash fuck his guitar?
For me, growing up in the eighties, early nineties, in SA, what a mindfucking blast, a beautiful catastrophe. I played the part as the rebel, slutty girl who hated school. And “jags”…as adolescence dictates. It was two years before Apartheid ended, and I was so glad it did, so I could go out and hunt myself some coloured boys who knew how to dance and vry properly.
I religiously kept a diary, intensively, almost each day of my teenage life. A journal, consisting out of written Afrikaans prose, photographs, letters…I would like to open it up, but the chaos, the dust, the let it lie…perhaps not to be opened up at all, but burnt, once again one with the earth from where my experiences grew.
The people we admired, the social standard for beauty are evident in these pages. And a different boy per page…a list of boys I kissed, the ones with the dots went further than a kiss. Just a Lovesick Afrikaans girls’ pop culture dagboekie.
fills the void
i still remember
how your eyes for me
Here’s a summary of my most important feminist works.
This work explores Feminine Power.
A sigil was created by the artist and then copied onto a ghost image note.
The sigil was placed under a glass jar, where a tiger eye gemstone was charged with feminine power of the artist. A video was made, but at the point of charging the stone, a glitch froze the video, so none of the actual gnosis was captured on video.
The photos that were taken came out normally, although the video appeared altered.
No editing was done to the visual appearance of this video.
This was the process of the whole ritual:
A sigil was created symbolizing female power.
Tiger eye gemstone was charged (but not successfully documented) by the artist and then used to make an elixir.
After consuming drops from the elixir, the artist will meditate until a gnostic state lying down with four tiger eye stones. One under each palm, one on the third eye and the last one in the sacred hollow between her legs.
The sigil will also be charged during this time, by rubbing body fluids on the sigil and activating it by orgasm.
The gemstone and the sigil will be the artifacts for sale.
Below is the first part of the video performance and some photos taken during the process.
“There certainly is self division. The man who watches a woman undressing has the red eyes of an ape; yet the man who sees two young lovers, really alone for the first time, who brings out all the pathos, the tenderness and uncertainty when he tells about it, is no brute; he is very much human. And the ape and the man exist in one body; and when the ape’s desires are about to be fulfilled, he disappears and is succeeded by the man, who is disgusted with the ape’s appetite.”
Our womb and yoni is our inner sanctum, a place to access our wisdom, our power. We all come from this magical, profound place.
And yet, generally we don’t honour this sacred place, most of us use our wombs as psychic garbage bins, throwing there the emotions that we’re unwilling to feel or face.
It takes courage to make the choice to reconnect with ourselves, to honour ourselves, and to celebrate ourselves as a sexual being. I admire you if you are reading this, to me it means that you have already started taking steps towards embodying the depth of your deep feminine essence.
I want to tell you about one of my beloved feminine practices – the Yoni Egg.
The stone egg practice to strengthen the vagina emerged in ancient China. For a long time it was a secret practice, only available for the members of the royal family. Since ancient times these practices were used for improving physical and spiritual health of a woman.
These eggs are often called Yoni eggs.
Yoni in sanskrit literally means sacred temple, and is used to refer to a woman’s vagina. How does it feel to refer to your vagina as a sacred temple? I bet you’d like that
The egg is an amazing tool that helps tone the lower abdomen and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic and urogenital diaphragms, which serve as a floor for all our vital organs. When these muscles are strong they prevent leakage of our vital force and sexual energy and help us to keep it under control.
I can’t promise that you will be able to shoot ping pong balls with your vagina, but the results may be pretty amazing.
READ THE REST HERE
reblogged from HERE
As a precursor to the release of the forthcoming publication of ‘The Marks of Teth’, it seems timely to post a series of articles which give context and background to the material in the book from my earlier works. The posts will condense some of the material presented over the last couple of years in public lectures. In this piece, the focus is on ‘Mother Destruction’ (1990-2000). M.D. has been the longest standing public art project thus far in a series of works dedicated to the Babalon current. The project was a collaboration with Patrick Leagas of 6 Comm who contributed original compositions to the project, as well as working with me in creating musical structures which supported the magical practices within live performance and recordings. Although I won’t be featuring the project directly in the book, the ‘M.D.’ ritual performances were vital in consolidating some of the techniques that form the core of the practices in the M.O.T., the recordings may be of interest to those working or experimenting with performance/group ritual within the 156 current.
The Mother Destruction project was part of an ongoing corpus of magical work concerned with manifesting a personal definition of the ‘Body of Babalon’, the ‘body’ being a metaphor and a phenomenological map which delineates the occult anatomy and magic of the Babalon priestess. This is a form of magical cartography which is extended via an experimental, multidisciplinary process concerned with the development of the mysteries of the 156 current; and its ontological development as a vehicle for female, sexual gnosis. The praxis supports a proposition that Babalon’s magic is synonymous with a process of radical reform within current paradigms of magical sexuality. As ‘Woman girt with sword’ Babalon represents female magical intelligence and wisdom, a transgressive force that is driving the re-evaluation and deconstruction of the female position within existing occult systems.
Within the emergent Post-Crowleyan era, clarifying and developing understanding of the sacred occult anatomy of the Babalon priestess is an essential part of ‘new aeon’ sexuality. Within the contemporary Western Mystery Tradition, there has been much progress in terms of a greater female presence and powerful contributions to the Occult Corpus made by women. However, progressive methodologies to channel the very specific sexual mysteries of the Babalon priestess have been scarce and this has seriously hindered the progress of the current. This situation has sabotaged formulation of an active, initiating sex magical priestesshood. The process of reform cannot only be focused on retrieval of what has been repressed, lost or missing within female magical traditions. Reform must also be concerned with investigating the current in relationship to contemporary discourse on philosophy, theology, feminism, ecology, physics, biology, neuroscience, consciousness studies, etc. Much of contemporary thought and debate in these fields is relevant to the many unresolved concerns within esotericism about the epistemic development, metaphysics and ontology of the Babalon current. Questions are being raised on the nature of ‘Babalon consciousness’ itself, her magical subjectivity, corporeality and relationship to love and Eros; and definitions of space, language and gender in the context of women’s magical experience.
A wider, contemporary understanding of female occult anatomy can be explored within movements of modern philosophy and feminist theory, such as the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the feminist theology of Luce Irigaray and the linguistic theories of Julia Kristeva. Although not directly related to esoteric philosophy, I’ve found the work of these writers of great value in terms of providing models for critique and process, which are interesting in juxtaposition with the traditional esoteric corpus and an experiential, heuristic magical practice. Merleau-Ponty elevates the concept of the ‘phenomenological field’ within his work, emphasizing the inseparable relationship between body and world as the ‘Chiasm’, acknowledging the primacy of the body as mediator between consciousness and matter. Irigaray’s work is important in regards to deconstructing the gender bias in language and supporting concepts of female subjectivity. These core ideas lead to her advocacy of female divinity as a vehicle for what she terms a ‘radical immanence’. Kristeva rejected the concept of ‘écriture féminine’ (women’s writing) promulgated by feminist thinkers who felt it vital to develop feminine symbolic systems which emphasized concepts of difference within gender. However, her interpretations of Plato’s concept of the ‘Khora’ as a maternal device for exploring somatic origins of language and poetry have some compelling correspondences with Babalon’s magic and exploration of body-centered language within ritual performance.
Such perspectives can create some challenging contrasts to traditional esoteric models and one’s orientation when defining metaphysical position, space and dynamics within a ritual context. However, the work of Irigaray and Kristeva, in particular, is contextualized within classical philosophical tradition and psychoanalytical (and Kristeva’s predominantly Freudian) models which do not reflect paradigmatic, sociological shifts created during the modern occult revival and the progress of women within this. This generates a grey area between feminist theory, philosophy and contemporary esoteric traditions within which I believe the Babalon current is of great importance to the future direction of feminist theology and occultism. Within my practice, I’ve had to conclude that the epistemological remit of the Venusian, Babalon current does demand a very specialized ‘langue féminine’, comprising of wholly erotic, corporeal, new magical languages and magical formulas that are derived from the female occult body itself. This extends Irigaray’s concept of feminine subjectivity into a highly technical and specialized phenomenological, occult, field of action. The M.D. Project was an experiment in defining magical space in a relationship with the concept of the ‘Body of Babalon’.
‘And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body.’ (AL I:26)
The core of the ‘Mother Destruction’ project centred upon live ritual performances within which the various disciplines and techniques that I had created through trance/possession with the Babalon current could be put into practice by creating a primal experimental, experiential space that has some parallels with Kristeva’s ‘Semiotic Khora’. However, it is a space that is not only linguistic but also has a distinctive bio-erotic force, which drives the creative action. M.D. was in part created to challenge the nihilistic aesthetic that pervaded the post-punk, post-modern experimental music scene. It was also a general response to the collective existential impasse and schism that characteristics our current era, to which I believe Babalon is a powerful antidote. However, Babalon’s new formulas represent a form of sexuality not yet fully matured and scarcely resembles anything related to previous cultural, old aeon perceptions of love and Eros. The Babalon current exalts women in the western esoteric tradition in the role of sex magical initiatrix. It can’t be overstated how pivotal this will be in transforming the spiritual core of humanity. This momentous shift will reverberate to challenge the reductive perceptions and dismemberment of female sexuality in contemporary culture, that often define womens experiences of sexual love as primarily driven by instinctual, reproductive urges or narcissistic, reflexive responses to the male gaze. Thus, as well as the extremely radical psycho-physical, magical transformation that the current engenders; the ongoing re-evaluation of female sex magical territory is creating a ground zero, a launching pad, from which the regenerated and revolutionary aspects of the new sexuality may emerge.
‘Mother Destruction’ was a vessel created to develop this new prima materia. The name evokes the stark reality of a raw, erotic, untrammeled state of divine frenzy, the domain of the primal goddess. It is a metaphor for the kinetic turbulence within the alchemical, sexual process of ‘solve et coagula’ and ‘fire snake’ consciousness, a force that generates the ‘in-between’ worlds that propel one through ecstatic disintegration into the dark womb of potential and regeneration, through which any and all forms of copulative exchange may emerge, a universal, creative flux, which is mediated through the sacred anatomy of the Babalon Priestess. The performances brought together important parts of the practice I’d developed into a magical environment which would hopefully communicate the orgasmic gnosis at the heart of the Babalon current at a corporeal and etheric level; and create a platform from which to develop experimental, ritual formulas and magical languages.
In terms of the physical dynamics of performance, the presence of the fire snake within the body generates some universal phenomena – erotic, ophidian currents that have often been sublimated into the distinctive movements seen in sacred dance forms throughout history. For example, the undulative serpentine dances of the ‘Kordax’ and ‘CifteTelli’, licentious and sacred dance forms that originated in Greece and the middle east and were precursors of modern ‘belly dancing’, have a powerfully seductive momentum. The captivating grace of the temple dances of the Devadasi, historically animated the mudric/yantric forms of the goddess into flesh. Both of these art forms evoke the fire snake through a very defined aesthetic. However, grafting any existing dance forms or magical techniques into my practice would have felt very artificial. It seemed very important simply to cultivate the physical dynamics that I had experienced directly from Babalon into performances. This created a distinctive but very raw, uncontrived aesthetic. I found that during possession by Babalon one creates a phenomenological field that has similarities to a shamanic séance and that Babalon and 156 egregore is the source of a magical-physical language with many distinctive qualities. Once possessed, one is immersed within a complex spectrum of trance states through which distinctive movements spontaneously emerge. These kinetic motifs create a corporeal narrative or journey within the magical performance space.
The phenomena of convulsive shaking and trembling observed in many shamanic cultures is a feature of the trance of Babalon, yet it is distinctive from other forms of traditional trance practices in that it is primarily erotic and directed through occult channels related specifically to the 156 current. Also key is that the priestess must work from within a pre- orgasmic build up or state of release.The performances were personally very challenging and intended as a form of erotic, ‘Electro-shock therapy’, designed to puncture collective stereotypes of female, magical sexuality. The movements of the priestess causes spontaneous reactions from the audience/participants which creates a collective ecstatic counterpoint to the invocations of the priestess. The participants engage within the magical space and some may actively become entranced and commune with Babalon via the collective ‘khora’. I believe the magic of Babalon augurs future possibilities of vitalist, evolutionary paths which can nurture deep articulacy of sensation and perception within the physical being. It seemed very important to put into practice the principles of embodiment which are at the core of the 156 current. Being present with a person completely immersed in a state of abandonment and trance is a very disorienting experience, more so with the Babalon trance which is highly sexually charged. The priestess must be prepared to fall into a completely deranged, ecstatic state, which makes her simultaneously vulnerable and empowered.
The performances were concerned with creating ritual structures to earth and communicate the quintessence of the current. A significant aspect of the work has been to reinforce the kinetic energy produced during ritual with corresponding sonic material and vocals. The early Mother Destruction performances featured trance practices, movement and sound that expressed these earthy, shamanic aspects of the Babalon current. Freyja as the Nordic avatar of Babalon revealed herself as holding techniques concerned with corporeal aspects of sex magic and embodiment. From these revelations a very personal interpretation of ‘seidr’, the shamanic/archaic sex magical tradition associated with Freyja was incorporated into the practice. For example, the ritual performance of the ‘Hella evocation’ is a live trance working in which the dark underworld aspect of Freyja emerges through vocalizations (click link below to hear) and movements that relate directly to her vibrational location within the magical body.
The movements that invoke and channel Hella are wildly spasmodic and violent. The shamanic frenzy of these underworld energies is essential in assimilating the highly explosive and unstable manifestations of the fire snake that accompanies the first stages of initiation into the mysteries of 156. Thus, Hella is important at the ‘Saturnine’ stage of development of the ‘Body of Babalon’, a complex process described in detail in the M.O.T. Her energy once assimilated can also be invoked in group work or performances, in which Hella has the function of eliminating any energies from the field of action that hinder the success of the rite. By contrast, ‘kenaz’ was a poetic, liturgical drama and a phenomenological narrative which describes and physically evokes the construction of the solar, ‘golden raiment’, the definitive initiatic garb of the Babalon priestess. Through delicate and skillful trembling and shuddering movements, the priestess weaves the structure of the golden garment in light. Then, clothing herself in the rays of the sun, she carries and propels the participants in magical flight across the abyss, via the fiery, vulvic, solar gateway of Babalon.
My understanding of Babalon’s magic is that it encompasses many aspects of trance and possession states that may be considered shamanic and I have discovered that there are some distinctive phenomenological motifs that link shamanic practices with Babalon and Seidr work. However, Babalon’s magic is characterized by its sex magical foci and it’s transmission through the female body and has many qualities that are unique to her. Through the development and communication of these feminine aspects of Babalon, the development of her magic in relationship to all of her devotees across the gender spectrum will advance greatly. The M.D. project was thus an experiment to create a form of sex magical technology specifically to transmit these nuances of the current. A synthesis of Sonics, movement and ritual dynamics focused on the melding of the core of Babalon’s bio-linguistic formulations in the magical field, to create a matrix through which a vibrational, simulacrum of Babalon could be constructed.
sy skryf briewe en seël die koevert
met donker rooi warm was
en in die was maak sy afdrukke
van haar mond haar brand haar
harde kont, die regterduim, haar nipple
sy vryf parfuum op, die koevert teen haar nek
en soen die brief voor sy ‘n adres opskryf
wat sy nou al uit haar kop kan sê.
Só connect sy met daai brief
soos ek en jy connect het, ‘n merry teenage camp
onthou jy, love at first fondle, ‘n real deal
ek’s mos meant for you
sy dink eers die brief het verlore geraak in die pos
totdat sy, soos ek, besef het daar was no reply
en haar hourly trips posbus toe was ‘n
moerse mors van tyd
“She arches her body like a cat on a stretch. She nuzzles her cunt into my face like a filly at the gate. She smells of the sea. She smells of rockpools when I was a child. She keeps a starfish in there. I crouch down to taste the salt, to run my fingers around the rim. She opens and shuts like a sea anemone. She’s refilled each day with fresh tides of longing.”
– Jeanette Winterson, ‘Written on the Body’
So I’ve got some big problems. And ‘on the side’ of all of these problems I teach full time and study part time. I’m so fucking fed up with this race for survival. Today is Saturday. Today I send the girls downstairs to play and I perve on art and blogs and I drink wine and smoke a zol and dance to Ellie Goulding’s Burn and I lock myself in my room and I just am. Full of Flaws. And aches and hungers and pains and pleasures and punctured dreams and all of that shit, you know? If only you knew how lonely I am right now. And I kinda wish you could give me a call and we can play our escape game “one more time”. Even though I know it’s just as fleeting as my wine and my zol, and just as deflated and long gone as all me dreams…
In four letters we have managed to encapsulate all of the shaming we, as humans, connect with female sexuality.
Source: we were all meant to be sluts
by Mark Grove
“Man can never know the loneliness a woman knows. Man lies in the woman’s womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. He is not lonely. He is busy. The memory of the swim in amniotic fluid gives him energy, completion. Woman may be busy too, but she feels empty. Sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she is bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. When man lies in her womb, she is fulfilled, each act of love a taking of man within her, an act of birth and rebirth, of child rearing and man bearing. Man lies in her womb and is reborn each time anew with a desire to act, to be. But for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment man rests inside of her.”
I can taste it
To think I was afraid of losing you.
To think I had fear of being free.
How sometimes we fear the freedom!
Four years later I am finally tasting
the first few weeks of not thinking of you.
It tastes better than the thought of you ever did.
So I removed the obvious traces of you from my blog. You know how, when you draw and you use a bad rubber, you end up just staining the paper more? Kinda like that. At least it’s gone to the naked eye now. Just wish it never happened, so this pathetic attempt at erasure doesn’t have to take place.
blogged from here
Friedl Kubelka and Valie Export, the aggressively sexualised avant-garde photographers from 1970s Vienna, on their new display at the Richard Saltoun Gallery in central London.
Friedl Kubelka, a 68-year-old photographer from Vienna, is looking at the first self-portrait she ever published. It is 1972; she is posing in front of a mirror in a Parisian hotel she rented by the hour. She is 26, dressed in nothing but high-end lingerie, twisting her lithe body in front of a mirror, everything on show for nobody but her camera.
In a deep, grainy monochrome, Kubelka looks fantastic; aggressively sexual, yet so vulnerable she might break into pieces. But how does she feel, looking at them now? “I think what a pity I was such a nice-looking young girl and I was so unhappy,” she says in a soft Austrian accent. “I see a very pretty and very unstable, very very very melancholic girl.”
We’re in the Richard Saltoun Gallery off Oxford Street on the opening night of an exhibition Kubelka will share with her fellow Viennese feminist artist Valie Export, looking at a series of pictures Kubelka now calls her Pin-ups. They were taken almost at a whim: “I had some spare film, and I didn’t know what to do with it,” she says. But they were the first portraits of Kubelka’s 40-year-long Jahreportraits (Year Portraits) project, in which she photographed herself daily over the period of a year – repeating the process every five years since.
Kubelka was born in London to parents seeking political refuge. She grew up in East Berlin before studying industrial photography at the Graphic Instruction and Research Institute in Vienna from 1965 to 1969. Pin-ups were born from the period after her education; one of deep unrest and sustained unhappiness, spent trying to work out her own needs and desires by exposing them on film. “I wanted to be the object of desire,” she says. “I wanted somebody. But I wanted to also be the person that renders the object of desire.”
That want to be both photographer and subject was born from isolation, she says: “I stayed in my apartment, taking photographs, developing and enlarging them by myself. I didn’t have a telephone. I was lonesome, obsessed with my work. So I would dance in front of the mirror because I needed an intimacy in these hours. Unconsciously, I needed someone else in the flat with me. So I danced to free myself from being in alone the dark room, and I saw myself like a different person, like another young woman living with me who had none of the psychological instability, who was self-confident. She was an ideal in the mirror who didn’t have the troubles I had.”
Model and Artist
That blurring of who is the artist and who is the model, is still key to how Kubelka understands her work: “There’s a tension between voyeurism and exhibitionism,” she says. “You think of the model as the exhibitionist and the photographer as the voyeur. Infact the voyeur has to decide his desire in a split second, using the shutter of the camera. You can hear his desire. Good photographers always reveal themselves somehow more than the model.”
Kubelka is a celebrated artist in her adopted home of Vienna and across Europe. In 2005, she was awarded the State Prize for Photography, the highest prize for a photographer in Austria, and has had solo exhibitions at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris (1980), the Fotogalerie in Vienna (2004), and the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2005). Yet she is barely known in the country of her birth, and this is only the second time her work has been displayed in the UK.
It is our loss, for her photos are remarkable. They‘re political and rejectionist, indebted to – and part of – the Actionist ethos of fellow Viennese artists like Günter Brus, Otto Mühl and Hermann Nitsch. But they’re also painfully personal, communicative of something that moves beyond intellectual statement. It’s indicative that Kubelka barely thought of herself as an artist: “Of course I had a lover,” she says. “And of course I wanted to please him. I thought he would like this (the pictures). I didn’t consider them art. I didn’t admit them to other artists in Vienna, because the women were very feminist.”
Kubelka’s work forms part of an exhibit about feminism, yet she rejects the foundations of the term. “I’m always astonished when people call me a feminist, but I don’t fight against it,” she says. “I have declared in front of many feminists that I am not one of them. Of course I was influenced by the times, by Actionism and feminism. But I am not like other artists. There was a lot of pressure; feminism was like a political party at the time. But I was never outspoken; I did not want men to be my enemy. I could not stand that thought.”
One cannot imagine that coming from the mouth of Valie Export, whom Kubelka shares the walls of Saltoun’s Viennese Season: Feminism. Export, now 74, defined herself as a Feminist Actionist, “an independent actor and creator, subject of her own history.”
Export is the more known of the two, with her work on permanent display at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, London’s Tate Modern, La Reina Sophia in Madrid and MoMA in New York. She was born Waltraud Lehner but, in 1967, changed her name to mimic Brand Export, her favourite the cigarette brand, renouncing in the process the names – and patriarchal influence – of both her father and former husband.
One of the more dominant photos of the exhibition is Smart/Export, a self-portrait of Export, presenting to the camera the pack of the cigarettes that became her name. Her pose is confrontational – a lit cigarette between her lips, her breast visible from the neckline of her dress. She has rendered her face on the pack, surrounded by the motto “semper et ubique – immer und überall” – everywhere, always and unique.
She established herself with the 1968 performance piece Touch Cinema. She stood alone on a Viennese street, a Styrofoam case covering her naked body. As Vienna’s citizens passed by, she would part the curtains, inviting them to explore inside with their hands. Those who acquiesced walked away realising they had just stroked a stranger’s breasts.
Action Pants: Genital Panic
Export’s most iconic image, and a key part of Saltoun’s display, is . Export is sat on a bench, her legs spread wide and her feet bare. Her leggings have a hole cut into the crotch. In her hands she holds a machine gun, and her hair rises in a wild shock as if she’s been electrocuted. The image was made as partner to a piece of performance art Export coined in a cinema in Munich. The same crotchless leggings were worn as she walked the crowd, exposing her genitalia to the seated audience at head-level. It’s become the stuff of avant-garde, and specifically feminist, legend, and various retellings exist; in an interview with the Los Angeles-based magazine High Performance, Export is quoted as saying Genital Panic took place in a pornographic cinema. She carried a machine gun, offering to have sex with anyone in the audience while levelling the gun at them. As she moved from row to row, people silently left the theatre in repulsion. Export has since denied this version of events, but it adds to the mystery.
“I didn’t want to perform in a gallery or a museum as they were too conservative for me and would only give conventional responses to my experimental works,” Export wrote in the self-titled book Valie Export. “It was important for me to present my works to the public, in the public space, and not within an art-conservative space, but in the by then so-called underground. When I was performing my actions in public, on the streets, in the urban space, new and different forms of reception developed. In the streets I provoked new explanations. I wanted to be provocative, to provoke, but also aggression was part of my intention. I wanted to provoke, because I sought to change the people’s way of seeing and thinking. If I hadn’t been provocative, I couldn’t have made visible what I wanted to show. I had to penetrate things to bring them to the exterior.”
In very different ways, Kubelka and Export used their sexuality to express their innermost selves on camera. In a climate that could view sex as a surrender to patriarchy, these artists used it in ways that still have the capacity to fascinate.
“Feminist Actionism shall free men’s products, that is, women, from their thing-character,” Export declares in her manifesto. “Just as action aims at achieving the unity of actor and material, perception and action, subject and object, Feminist Actionism seeks to transform the object of male natural history, the material woman, subjugated and enslaved by the male creator, into an independent actor and creator, subject of her own history.”
The most hits on my blog ever have been vintage porn images. People download them all the time. It’s like, people really love something that was, or is…’real’. I think. We need hair and dropped pants and smiling ladies with flesh.
blogged from the huffington post.
“It’s appalling and shocking to think that scientifically, the clitoris was only discovered in 1998,” Wallace told The Huffington Post from her Brooklyn studio last week. “But really, it may as well have never been discovered at all because there’s still such ignorance when it comes to the female body.”
The clitoris, described as the only human body part that exists solely for pleasure, is not merely a little “button” hidden between a woman’s legs, but rather a large, mostly internal organ many people don’t know about, Wallace explains.
According to a 2011 post by Museum of Sex blogger Ms. M, the internal clitoris (highlighted in yellow in the images above) is a complex erectile structure consisting of two corpora cavernosa (that are said to wrap around the vagina when erect), two crura (erectile bodies that branch out from the clitoral body), clitoral vestibules or bulbs, and the clitoral glans (the part that you can see).
In 1998, Australian urologist Helen O’Connell published a paper in the Journal of Urology describing the sheer scope and size of the clitoris. She wrote that the unerect clitoris, most of which is not visible, could be up to 9 centimeters long — longer, as some have described it, than an unerect penis.
As Robert King, professor at Ireland’s University College Cork, explained in a July post on Psychology Today, the true anatomy of the clitoris had actually appeared in scientific literature as long ago as the mid-1800s. However, King writes that O’Connell’s research shed light on the clitoris like no one had before.
Wallace, citing anecdotal evidence, says ignorance still seems to be ever-pervasive in modern society.
“It is a curious dilemma to observe the paradox that on the one hand the female body is the primary metaphor for sexuality, its use saturates advertising, art and the mainstream erotic imaginary. Yet, the clitoris, the true female sexual organ, is virtually invisible,” Wallace told Creem magazine earlier this year.
“Even in porn, the clitoris is treated as this optional, kind of freaky, ‘wow he’s doing her this huge favor’ thing,” she told HuffPost, adding that women often feel “embarrassed” to ask their partners to pleasure them. “It’s insane to me that this is still happening in 2013.”
Last year, during her tenure in the Art & Law Residency, Wallace started work on a multi-media project that she hoped would serve to challenge these misconceptions and to lift the veil on this enduring ignorance about the female body.
Aptly entitled “Cliteracy,” the project, which is ongoing, includes Wallace’s “100 Laws of Cliteracy,” street art about the organ, as well as a “clit rodeo” that involves an interactive installment of a giant golden clitoris.
Scroll down to learn more about Wallace’s project:
What is “Cliteracy”?
“I wanted to talk about female genitals in a way that I felt wasn’t really being talked about,” Wallace said. “For me, this word ‘cliteracy’ perfectly breaks down the idea of the project. It’s this pithy, wonderful little word that encapsulates so much so quickly and so simply. It illuminates this idea of total illiteracy and incompetence when it comes to the female body.”
The “100 Natural Laws of Cliteracy”
Spanning 10 feet by 13 feet, with a 6-foot neon “Cliteracy” sign suspended from the ceiling, Wallace’s “100 Natural Laws” installation is, as she describes it, “monumental in scope and scale.”
“I wanted to create something so big that it would make everyone, including a football player or basketball player, feel small next to it,” she said. “You can’t just glance at it and expect to have gotten it. You have to spend time with it and think about it.”
Using scientific data, historical information, as well as references to architecture, porn, pop culture and human rights, the “100 Laws” have been a way for Wallace to lay out her “case for the clit,” she says.
“I chose to use the language of Natural Law because its authority precedes the mandate of states, countries and religious bodies. Natural laws are inalienable. In much of the world women do not hold dominion over their own bodies, and even in this country, women are too often acquiescing to sex acts that do not give them pleasure,” she told Creem.
One of the most fascinating of Wallace’s “100 Laws” references the story of a French doctor named Pierre Foldes who, thanks to recent research into the anatomy of the clitoris, came up with a method of repairing the damage caused by female genital mutilation. By removing scar tissue from the vulva and lowering — and revealing — a portion of the internal clitoris, he has been able to restore pleasure to thousands of women who have been circumcised.
Until recently, Foldes is believed to have been the only doctor in the world who was carrying out this particular surgery. More doctors have since adopted his methods.
“When I returned to France to treat genital mutilation, I was amazed that they were never tried,” Foldes said, according to a 2011 Museum of Sex blog post on the internal clitoris. “The medical literature tells us the truth about our contempt for women. For three centuries, there are thousands of references to penile surgery, nothing on the clitoris, except for some cancers or dermatology — and nothing to restore its sensitivity. The very existence of an organ of pleasure is denied, medically.”
To get people talking about the clitoris, Wallace has been taking to the streets of New York City, plastering walls with cliteracy-related posters and slogans.
“This is an advertising campaign for the clitoris,” she said of the unauthorized street art installations. “After all, who needs an ad campaign more than the clit?”
“This work has never meant to be behind the white walls of a gallery. It’s really about cliteracy becoming a meme and creating new language for bodies and sexuality,” Wallace said, adding that she wants to soon take her street art project global
With the help of sculptor Kenneth Thomas, Wallace created an anatomically accurate — and rideable — golden clitoris that debuted at the Wassaic Project Summer Festival in New York, earlier this month. The giant organ was the star of the “Clit Rodeo,” an interactive performance that involved members of the public performing and dancing with the giant clitoris for prizes.
“[It was] an invitation for audiences to experience a space free from traditional shame, taboo and silence usually cloaking conversations around sexuality, particularly female genitals,” said Wallace, who intends on bringing the “Clit Rodeo” to other parts of the U.S.
“People couldn’t stop looking at [the clitoris], touching it riding it, being around it,” she added. “It just had this aura about it. It wasn’t just women on the clit, it wasn’t just the men, everyone was engaged.”
“If you see a man walking around with a ‘solid gold clit’ shirt, it creates this social experiment — what does it mean to have a ‘clit’ on your shirt? It’s just interesting to see these words out in the world and to see how they operate and how people respond,” Wallace said of her line of clothing featuring cliteracy slogans.
“It’s cool to see how much dialogue can be opened up. Ultimately that’s what the goal is — to open up a conversation,” she added.
Wallace says that her cliteracy project has gone viral since its launch, triggering a great public response both at physical exhibitions, as well as online on social media platforms like Tumblr.
“It’s been a showstopper wherever its been shown. People are hungry to be able to talk about this,” she said. “I’m thrilled that it’s gone viral and I hope it’ll continue to be shared. I absolutely want people to talk about it — and really, the effect is only beginning.”
Cliteracy, says Wallace, is really something that everyone should care about.
Though the project may seem limited to the discussion about women’s bodies and female sexuality, Wallace insists that it’s really much, much bigger than that.
Not only is the project for everyone (“I love seeing men standing up for the clit,” Wallace says, adding that this is a conversation that liberates people of all genders), but she says that the clitoris can be seen as a “metaphor for freedom, body sovereignty and citizenship.”
“Cliteracy is about not having one’s body controlled or legislated,” she said. “Not having access to the pleasure that is your birthright is a deeply political act.”
“To me, this has always been about a bigger conversation. It’s about breaking down walls.”
it is now time to return to the actual subject of this investigation in order to see how far its explanation has been helped by the lengthy digressions, which must often have seemed wide of the mark.
the consequence of the fundamental principles that have been developed are of such radical importance to the psychology of the sexes that, even if the former deductions have been assented to, the present conclusions may find no acceptance. this is not the place to analyse such a possibility; but in order to protect the theory i am now going to set up, from all objections, i shall fully substantiate it in the fullest possible manner by convincing arguments.
shortly speaking the matter stands as follows: i have shown that logical and ethical phenomena come together in the conception of truth as the ultimate good, and posit the existence of an intelligible ego or a soul, as a form of being of the highest super-empirical reality. in such a being as the absolute female there are no logical and ethical phenomena, and, therefore, the ground for the assumption of a soul is absent. the absolute female knows neither the logical nor the moral imperative, and the words law and duty, duty towards herself, are words which are least familiar to her. the inference that she is wanting in super-sensual personality is fully justified. the absolute female has no ego.
in a certain sense this is an end of the investigation, a final conclusion to which all analysis of the female leads. and although this conclusion, put thus concisely, seems harsh and intolerant, paradoxical and too abrupt in its novelty, it must be remembered that the author is not the first who has taken such a view; he is more in the position of one who has discovered the philosophical grounds for an opinion of long standing.
the chinese from time immemorial have denied that women possess a personal soul. if a chinaman is asked how many children he has, he counts only the boys, and will say none if he has only daughters. mahomet excluded women from paradise for the same reason, and on this view depends the degraded position of women in oriental countries.
amongst the philosophers, the opinions of aristotle must first be considered. he held that in procreation the male principle was the formative active agent, the “logos,” whilst the female was the passive material. when we remember that aristotle used the word “soul” for the active, formative, causative principle, it is plain that his idea was akin to mine, although, as he actually expressed it, it related only to the reproductive process; it is clear, moreover, that he, like all the greek philosophers except euripides, paid no heed to women, and did not consider her qualities from any other point of view than that of her share in reproduction.
amongst the fathers of the church, tertullian and origen certainly had a very low opinion of woman, and st. augustine, except for his relations with his mother, seems to have shared their view. at the renaissance the aristotelian conceptions gained many new adherents, amongst whom jean wier (1518-1588) may be cited specially. at that period there was general, more sensible and intuitive understanding on the subject, which is now treated as merely curious, contemporary science having bowed the knee to other than aristotelian gods.
in recent years henrik ibsen (in the characters of anitra, rita, and irene) and august strindberg have given utterance to this view. but the popularity of the idea of the soullessness of woman has been most attained by the wonderful fairy tales of fouqu,, who obtained the material for them from paracelsus, after deep study, and which have been set to music by e.t.a. hoffman, girschner, and albert lorzing.
undine, the soulless undine, is the platonic idea of woman. in spite of all bisexuality she most really resembles the actuality. the well-known phrase, “women have no character,” really means the same thing. personality and individuality (intelligible), ego and soul, will and (intelligible) character, all these are different expressions of the same actuality, an actuality the male of mankind attains, the female lacks.
but since the soul of man is the microcosm, and great men are those who live entirely in and through their souls, the whole universe thus having its being in them, the female must be described as absolutely without the quality of genius. the male has everything within him, and, as pico of mirandola put it, only specialises in this or that part of himself. it is possible for him to attain to the loftiest heights, or to sink to the lowest depths; he can become like animals, or plants, or even like women, and so there exist woman-like female men.
the woman, on the other hand, can never become a man. in this consists the most important limitation to the assertions in the first part of this work. whilst i know of many men who are practically completely psychically female, not merely half so, and have seen a considerable number of women with masculine traits, i have never yet seen a single woman who was not fundamentally female, even when this femaleness has been concealed by various accessories from the person herself, not to speak of others. one must be (chap. i. part i.) either man or woman, however many peculiarities of both sexes one may have, and this “being,” the problem of this work from the start, is determined by one’s relation to ethics and logic; but whilst there are people who are anatomically men and psychically women, there is no such thing as a person who is physically female and psychically male, notwithstanding the extreme maleness of their outward appearance and the unwomanliness of their expression.
we may now give, with certainty, a conclusive answer to the question as to the giftedness of the sexes: there are women with undoubted traits of genius, but there is no female genius, and there never has been one (not even amongst those masculine women of history which were dealt with in the first part), and there never can be one. those who are in favour of laxity in these matters, and are anxious to extend and enlarge the idea of genius in order to make it possible to include women, would simply by such action destroy the concept of genius. if it is in any way possible to frame a definition of genius that would thoroughly cover the ground, i believe that my definition succeeds. and how, then, could a soulless being possess genius? the possession of genius is identical with profundity; and if any one were to try to combine woman and profundity as subject and predicate, he would be contradicted on all sides. a female genius is a contradiction in terms, for genius is simply intensified, perfectly developed, universally conscious maleness.
the man of genius possesses, like everything else, the complete female in himself; but woman herself is only a part of the universe, and the part can never be the whole; femaleness can never include genius. this lack of genius on the part of woman is inevitable because woman is not a monad, and cannot reflect the universe.
(it would be a simple matter to introduce at this point a list of the works of the most famous women, and show by a few examples how little they deserve the title of genius. but it would be a wearisome task, and any one who would make use of such a list can easily procure it for himself, so that i shall not do so.)
the proof of the soullessness of woman is closely connected with much of what was contained in the earlier chapters. the third chapter explained that woman has her experiences in the form of henids, whilst those of men are in an organised form, so that the consciousness of the female is lower in grade than that of the male. consciousness, however, is psychologically a fundamental part of the theory of knowledge. from the point of view of the theory of knowledge, consciousness and the possession of a continuous ego, of a transcendental subjective soul, are identical conceptions. every ego exists only so far as it is self-conscious, conscious of the contents of its own thoughts; all real existence is conscious existence. i can now make an important contribution to the theory of henids. the organised contents of the thoughts of the male are not merely those of the female articulated and formed, they are not what was potential in the female becoming actual; from the very first there is a qualitative difference. the psychical contents of the male, even whilst they are still in the henid stage that they always try to emerge from, are already partly conceptual, and it is probable that even perceptions in the male have a direct tendency towards conceptions. in the female, on the other hand, there is no trace of conception either in recognition or in thinking.
the logical axioms are the foundation of all formation of mental conceptions, and women are devoid of these; the principle of identity is not for them an inevitable standard, nor do they fence off all other possibilities from their conception by using the principle of contradictories. this want of definiteness in the ideas of women is the source of that “sensitiveness” which gives the widest scope to vague associations and allows the most radically different things to be grouped together. and even women with the best and least limited memories never free themselves from this kind of association by feelings. for instance, if they “feel reminded” by a word of some definite colour, or by a human being of some definite thing to eat – forms of association common with women – they rest content with the subjective association, and do not try to find out the source of the comparison, and if there is any relation in it to actual fact. the complacency and self-satisfaction of women corresponds with what has been called their intellectual unscrupulousnesss, and will be referred to again in connection with their want of the power to form concepts. this subjection to waves of feeling, this want of respect for conceptions, this self-appreciation without any attempt to avoid shallowness, characterise as essentially female the changeable styles of many modern painters and novelists. male thought is fundamentally different from female thought in its craving for definite form, and all art that consists of moods is essentially a formless art.
the psychical contents of man’s thoughts, therefore, are more than the explicit realisation of what women think in henids. woman’s thought is a sliding and gliding through subjects, a superficial tasting of things that a man, who studies the depths, would scarcely notice; it is an extravagant and dainty method of skimming which has no grasp of accuracy. a woman’s thought is superficial, and touch is the most highly developed of the female senses, the most notable characteristic of the woman which she can bring to a high state by her unaided efforts. touch necessitates a limiting of the interest to superficialities, it is a vague effect of the whole and does not depend on definite details. when a woman “understands” a man (of the possibility or impossibility of any real understanding i shall speak later), she is simply, so to speak tasting (however wanting in taste the comparison may be) what he has thought about her. since, on her own part, there is no sharp differentiation, it is plain that she will often think that she herself has been understood when there is no more present than a vague similarity of perceptions. the incongruity between the man and woman depends, in a special measure, on the fact that the contents of the thoughts of the man are not merely those of the woman in a higher state of differentiation, but that the two have totally distinct sequences of thought applied to the same object, conceptual thought in the one and indistinct sensing in the other; and when what is called “understanding” in the two cases is compared, the comparison is not between a fully organised integrated thought and a lower stage of the same process; but in the understanding of man and woman there is on the one side a conceptual thought, on the other side an unconceptual “feeling,” a henid.
the unconceptual nature of the thinking of a woman is simply the result of her less perfect consciousness, of her want of an ego. it is the conception that unites the mere complex of perceptions into an object, and this it does independently of the presence of an actual perception. the existence of the complex of perceptions is dependent on the will; the will can shut the eyes and stop the ears so that the person no longer sees nor hears, but may get drunk or go to sleep and forget. it is the conception which brings freedom from the eternally subjective, eternally psychological relativity of the actual perceptions, and which creates the things in themselves. by its power of forming conceptions the intellect can spontaneously separate itself from the object; conversely, it is only when there is a comprehending function that subject and object can be separated and so distinguished; in all other cases there is only a mass of like and unlike images present mingling together without law and order. the conception creates definite realities from the floating images, the object from the perception, the object which stands like an enemy opposite the subject that the subject may measure its strength upon it. the conception is thus the creator of reality; it is the “transcendental object” of kant’s “critique of reason,” but it always involves a transcendental “subject.”
it is impossible to say of a mere complex of perceptions that it is like itself; in the moment that i have made the judgment of identity, the complex of perceptions has become a concept. and so the conception gives their value to all processes of verification and all syllogisms; the conception makes the contents of thought free by binding them. it gives freedom both to the subject and object; for the two freedoms involve each other. all freedom is in reality self-binding, both in logic and in ethics. man is free only when he himself is the law. and so the function of making concepts is the power by which man gives himself dignity; he honours himself by giving freedom to the objective world, by making it part of the objective body of knowledge to which recourse may be had when two men differ. the woman cannot in this way set herself over against realities, she and they swing together capriciously; she cannot give freedom to her objects as she herself is not free.
the mode in which perceptions acquire independence in conceptions is the means of getting free from subjectivity. the conception is that about which i think, write, and speak. and in this way there comes the belief that i can make judgments concerning it. hume, huxley, and other “immanent” psychologists, tried to identify the conception with a mere generalisation, so making no distinction between logical and psychological thought. in doing this they ignored the power of making judgments. in every judgment there is an act of verification or of contradiction, an approval or rejection, and the standard for these judgments, the idea of truth, must be something external to that on what it is acting. if there are nothing but perceptions, then all perceptions must have an equal validity, and there can be no standard by which to form a real world. empiricism in this fashion really destroys the reality of experience, and what is called positivism is no more than nihilism. the idea of a standard of truth, the idea of truth, cannot lie in experience. in every judgment this idea of the existence of truth is implicit. the claim to real knowledge depends on this capacity to judge, involves the conception of the possibility of truth in the judgment.
this claim to be able to reach knowledge is no more than to say that the subject can judge of the object, can say that the object is true. the objects on which we make judgments are conceptions; the conception is what we know. the conception places a subject and an object against one another, and the judgment then creates a relation between the two. the attainment of truth simply means that the subject can judge rightly of the object, and so the function of making judgments is what places the ego in relation to the all possible. and thus we reach an answer to the old problem as to whether conception or judgment has precedence; the answer is that the two are necessary to one another. the faculty of making conceptions cleaves subject and object and unites them again.
a being like the female, without the power of making concepts, is unable to make judgments. in her “mind” subjective and objective are not separated; there is no possibility of making judgments, and no possibility of reaching, or of desiring, truth. no woman is really interested in science; she may deceive herself and many good men, but bad psychologists, by thinking so. it may be taken as certain, that whenever a woman has done something of any little importance in the scientific world (sophie germain, mary somerville, &c.) it is always because of some man in the background whom they desire to please in this way. . . .
but there have never been any great discoveries in the world of science made by women, because the facility for truth only proceeds from a desire for truth, and the former is always in proportion to the latter. woman’s sense of reality is much less than man’s, in spite of much repetition of the contrary opinion. with women the pursuit of knowledge is always subordinated to something else, and if this alien impulse is sufficiently strong they can see sharply and unerringly, but woman will never be able to see the value of truth in itself and in relation to her own self. where there is some check to what she wishes (perhaps unconsciously) a woman becomes quite uncritical and loses all touch with reality. this is why women so often believe themselves to have been the victims of sexual overtures; this is the reason of the extreme frequency of hallucinations of the sense sense of touch in women, of the intensive reality of which it is almost impossible for a man to form an idea. this also is why the imagination of women is composed of lies and errors, whilst the imagination of the philosopher is the highest form of truth.
the idea of truth is the foundation of everything that deserves the name of judgment. knowledge is simply the making of judgments, and thought itself is simply another name for judgment. deduction is the necessary process in making judgments, and involves the propositions of identity and contradictories, and, as i have shown, these propositions are not axiomatic for women.
a psychological proof that the power of making judgments is a masculine trait lies in the fact that the woman recognises it as such, and that it acts on her as a tertiary sexual character of the male. a woman always expects definite convictions in a man, and appropriates them; she has no understanding of indecision in a man. she always expects a man to talk, and a man’s speech is to her a sign of his manliness. it is true that woman has the gift of speech, but she has not the art of talking; she converses (flirts) or chatters, but she does not talk. she is most dangerous, however, when she is dumb, for men are only too inclined to take her quiescence for silence.
the absolute female, then, is devoid not only of the logical rules, but of the functions of making concepts and judgments which depend on them. as the very nature of the conceptual faculty consists in posing subject against object, and as the subject takes its deepest and fullest meaning from its power of forming judgments on its objects, it is clear that women cannot be recognised as possessing even the subject.
i must add to the exposition of the non-logical nature of the female some statements as to her non-moral nature. the profound falseness of woman, the result of the want in her of a permanent relation to the idea of truth or to the idea of value, would prove a subject of discussion so exhaustive that i must go to work another way. there are such endless imitations of ethics, such confusing copies of morality, that women are often said to be on a moral plane higher than that of man. i have already pointed out the need to distinguish between the non-moral and the immoral, and i now repeat that with regard to women we can talk only of the non-moral, of the complete absence of a moral sense. it is a well-known fact of criminal statistics and of daily life that there are very few female criminals. the apologists of the morality of women always point to this fact.
but in deciding the question as to the morality of women we have to consider not if a particular person has objectively sinned against the idea, but if the person has or has not a subjective centre of being that can enter into a relation with the idea, a relation the value of which is lowered when a sin is committed. no doubt the male criminal inherits his criminal instincts, but none the less he is conscious in spite of theories of “moral insanity” – that by his action he has lowered the value of his claim on life. all criminals are cowardly in this matter, and there is none of them that thinks he has raised his value and his self-consciousness by his crime, or that would try to justify it to himself.
the male criminal has from birth a relation to the idea of value just like any other man, but the criminal impulse, when it succeeds in dominating him, destroys this almost completely. woman, on the contrary, often believes herself to have acted justly when, as a matter of fact, she has just done the greatest possible act of meanness; whilst the true criminal remains mute before reproach, a woman can at once give indignant expression to her astonishment and anger that any one should question her perfect right to act in this or that way. women are convinced of their own integrity without ever having sat in judgment on it. the criminal does not, it is true, reflect on himself, but he never urges his own integrity; he is much more inclined to get rid of the thought of his integrity, (a male even feels guilty when he has not actually done wrong. he can always accept the approaches of others as to deception, thieving, and so on, even if he has never committed such acts, because he knows he is capable of them. so also he feels himself “caught” when anyone is arrested) because it might remind him of his guilt; and in this is the proof that he had a relation to the idea (of truth), and only objects to be reminded of his unfaithfulness to his better self. no male criminal has ever believed that his punishment was unjust. a woman, on the contrary, is convinced of the animosity of her accuser, and if she does not wish to be convinced of it, no one can persuade her that she has done wrong.
if any one talks to her it usually happens that she bursts into tears, begs for pardon, and “confesses her fault,” and may really believe that she feels her guilt; but only when she desires to do so, and the outbreak of tears has given her a certain sort of satisfaction. the male criminal is callous; he does not spin round in a trice, as a woman would do in a similar instance if her accuser knew how to handle her skilfully.
the personal torture which arises from guilt, which cries aloud in its anguish at having brought such a stain upon herself, no woman knows, and an apparent exception (the penitent, who becomes a self-mortifying devotee,) will certainly prove that a woman only feels a vicarious guilt.
i am not arguing that woman is evil and anti-moral; i state that she cannot be really evil; she is merely non-moral.
womanly compassion and female modesty are the two other phenomena which are generally urged by the defenders of female virtue. it is especially from womanly kindness, womanly sympathy, that the beautiful descriptions of the soul of woman have gained most support, and the final argument of all belief in the superior morality of woman is the conception of her as the hospital nurse, the tender sister. i am sorry to have to mention this point, and should not have done so, but i have been forced to do so by a verbal objection made to me, which can be easily foreseen.
it is very shortsighted of any one to consider the nurse as a proof of the sympathy of women, because it really implies the opposite. for a man could never stand the sight of the sufferings of the sick; he would suffer so intensely that he would be completely upset and incapable of lengthy attendance on them. any one who has watched nursing sisters is astonished at their equanimity and “sweetness” even in the presence of most terrible death throes; and it is well that it is so, for man, who cannot stand suffering and death, would make a very bad nurse. a man would want to assuage the pain and ward off death; in a word, he would want to help; where there is nothing to be done he is better away; it is only then that nursing is justified and that woman offers herself for it. but it would be quite wrong to regard this capacity of women in an ethical aspect.
here it may be said that for woman the problem of solitude and society does not exist. she is well adapted for social relations (as, for instance, those of a companion or sick- nurse), simply because for her there is no transition from solitude to society. in the case of a man, the choice between solitude and society is serious when it has to be made. the woman gives up no solitude when she nurses the sick, as she would have to do were she to deserve moral credit for her action; a woman is never in a condition of solitude, and knows neither the love of it nor the fear of it. the woman is always living in a condition of fusion with all the human beings she knows, even when she is alone; she is not a “”monad,” for all monads are sharply marked off from other existences. women have no definite inidividual limits; they are not unlimited in the sense that geniuses have no limits, being one with the whole world; they are unlimited only in the sense that they are not marked off from the common stock of mankind.
this sense of continuity with the rest of mankind is a sexual character of the female, and displays itself in the desire to touch, to be in contact with, the object of her pity; the mode in which her tenderness expresses itself is a kind of animal sense of contact. it shows the absence of the sharp line that separates one real personality from another. the woman does not respect the sorrow of her neighbour by silence; she tries to raise him from his grief by speech, feeling that she must be in physical, rather than spiritual, contact with him.
this diffused life, one of the most fundamental qualities of the female nature, is the cause of the impressibility of all women, their unreserved and shameless readiness to shed tears on the most ordinary occasion. it is not without reason that we associate wailing with women, and think little of a man who sheds tears in public. a woman weeps with those that weep and laughs with those that laugh – unless she herself is the cause of the laughter – so that the greater part of female sympathy is ready-made.
it is only women who demand pity from other people, who weep before them and claim their sympathy. this is one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the psychical shamelessness of women. a woman provokes the compassion of strangers in order to weep with them and be able to pity herself more than she already does. it is not too much to say that even when a woman weeps alone she is weeping with those that she knows would pity her and so intensifying her self-pity by the thought of the pity of others. self-pity is eminently a female characteristic; a woman will associate herself with others, make herself the object of pity for these others, and then at once, deeply stirred, begin to weep with them about herself, the poor thing. perhaps nothing so stirs the feeling of shame in a man as to detect in himself the impulse towards this self-pity, this state of mind in which the subject becomes the object.
as schopenhauer put it, female sympathy is a matter of sobbing and wailing on the slightest provocation, without the smallest attempt to control the emotion; on the other hand, all true sorrow, like true sympathy, just because it is real sorrow, must be reserved; no sorrow can really be so reserved as sympathy and love, for these make us most fully conscious of the limits of each personality. love and its bashfulness will be considered later on; in the meantime let us be assured that in sympathy, in genuine masculine sympathy, there is always a strong feeling of reserve, a sense almost of guilt, because one’s friend is worse off than oneself, because i am not he, but a being separated from his being by extraneous circumstances. a man’s sympathy is the principle of individuality blushing for itself; and hence man’s sympathy is reserved whilst that of woman is aggressive.
the existence of modesty in women has been discussed already to a certain extent; i shall have more to say about it in relation with hysteria. but it is difficult to see how it can be maintained that this is a female virtue, if one reflect on the readiness with which women accept the habit of wearing low- necked dresses wherever custom prescribes it. a person is either modest or immodest, and modesty is not a quality which can be assumed or discarded from hour to hour.
strong evidence of the want of modesty in woman is to be derived from the fact that women dress and undress in the presence of one another with the greatest freedom, whilst men try to avoid similar circumstances. moreover, when women are alone together, they are very ready to discuss their physical qualities, especially with regard to their attractiveness for men; whilst men, practically without exception, avoid all notice of one another’s sexual characters.
i shall return to this subject again. in the meantime i wish to refer to the argument of the second chapter in this connection. one must be fully conscious of a thing before one can have a feeling of shame about it, and so differentiation is as necessary for the sense of shame as for consciousness. the female, who is only sexual, can appear to be asexual because she is sexuality itself, and so her sexuality does not stand out separately from the rest of her being, either in space or in time, as in the case of the male. woman can give an impression of being modest because there is nothing in her to contrast with her sexuality. and so the woman is always naked or never naked – we may express it either way – never naked, because the true feeling of nakedness is impossible to her; always naked, because there is not in her the material for the sense of relativity by which she could become aware of her nakedness and so make possible the desire to cover it.
what i have been discussing depends on the actual meaning of the word “ego” to a woman. if a woman were asked what she meant by her “ego” she would certainly think of her body. her superficies, that is the woman’s ego. the ego of the female is quite correctly described by mach in his “anti-metaphysical remarks.”
the ego of a woman is the cause of the vanity which is specific of women. the analogue of this in the male is an emanation of the set of his will towards his conception of the good, and its objective expression is a sensitiveness, a desire that no one shall call in question the possibility of attaining this supreme good. it is his personality that gives to man his value and his freedom from the conditions of time. this supreme good, which is beyond price, because, in the words of kant, there can be found no equivalent for it, is the dignity of man. women, in spite of what schiller has said, have no dignity, and the word “lady” was invented to supply this defect, and her pride will find its expression in what she regards as the supreme good, that is to say, in the preservation, improvement, and display of her personal beauty. the pride of the female is something quite peculiar to herself, something foreign even to the most handsome man, an obsession by her own body; a pleasure which displays itself, even in the least handsome girl, by admiring herself in the mirror, by stroking herself and playing with her own hair, but which comes to its full measure only in the effect that her body has on man. a woman has no true solitude, because she is always conscious of herself only in relation to others. the other side of the vanity of women is the desire to feel that her body is admired, or, rather, sexually coveted, by a man.
this desire is so strong that there are many women to whom it is sufficient merely to know that they are coveted.
the vanity of women is, then, always in relation to others; a woman lives only in the thoughts of others about her. the sensibility of women is directed to this. a woman never forgets that some one thought her ugly; a woman never considers herself ugly; the successes of others at the most only make her think of herself as perhaps less attractive. but no woman ever believes herself to be anything but beautiful and desirable when she looks at herself in the glass; she never accepts her own ugliness as a painful reality as a man would, and never ceases to try to persuade others of the contrary.
what is the source of this form of vanity, peculiar to the female? it comes from the absence of an intelligible ego, the only begetter of a constant and positive sense of value; it is, in fact, that she is devoid of a sense of personal value. as she sets no store by herself or on herself, she endeavours to attain to a value in the eyes of others by exciting their desire and admiration. the only thing which has any absolute and ultimate value in the world is the soul. “ye are better than many sparrows” were christ’s words to mankind. a woman does not value herself by the constancy and freedom of her personality; but this is the only possible method for every creature possessing an ego. but if a real woman, and this is certainly the case, can only value herself at the rate of the man who has fixed his choice on her; if it is only through her husband or lover that she can attain to a value not only in social and material things, but also in her innermost nature, it follows that she possesses no personal value, she is devoid of man’s sense of the value of his own personality for itself. and so women always get their sense of value from something outside themselves, from their money or estates, the number and richness of their garments, the position of their box at the opera, their children, and, above all, their husbands or lovers. when a woman is quarrelling with another woman, her final weapon, and the weapon she finds most effective and discomfiting, is to proclaim her superior social position, her wealth or title, and, above all, her youthfulness and the devotion of her husband or lover; whereas a man in similar case would lay himself open to contempt if he relied on anything except his own personal individuality.
the absence of the soul in woman may also be inferred from the following: whilst a woman is stimulated to try to impress a man from the mere fact that he has paid no attention to her (goethe gave this as a practical receipt), the whole life of a woman, in fact, being an expression of this side of her nature, a man, if a woman treats him rudely or indifferently, feels repelled by her. nothing makes a man so happy as the love of a girl; even if he did not at first return her love, there is a great probability of love being aroused in him. the love of a man for whom she does not care is only a gratification of the vanity of a woman, or an awakening and rousing of slumbering desires. a woman extends her claims equally to all men on earth.
the shamelessness and heartlessness of women are shown in the way in which they talk of being loved. a man feels ashamed of being loved, because he is always in the position of being the active, free agent, and because he knows that he can never give himself entirely to love, and there is nothing about which he is so silent, even when there is no special reason for him to fear that he might compromise the lady by talking. a woman boasts about her love affairs, and parades them before other women in order to make them envious of her. woman does not look upon a man’s inclination for her so much as a tribute to her actual worth, or a deep insight into her nature, as the bestowing a value on her which she otherwise would not have, as the gift to her of an existence and essence with which she justifies herself before others.
the remark in an earlier chapter about the unfailing memory of woman for all the compliments she has ever received since childhood is explained by the foregoing facts. it is from compliments, first of all, that woman gets a sense of her “value,” and that is why women expect men to be “polite.” politeness is the easiest form of pleasing a woman, and however little it costs a man it is dear to a woman, who never forgets an attention, and lives upon the most insipid flattery, even in her old age. one only remembers what possesses a value in one’s eyes; it may safely be said that it is for compliments women have the most developed memory. the woman can attain a sense of value by these external aids, because she does not possess within her an inner standard of value which diminishes everything outside her. the phenomena of courtesy and chivalry are simply additional proofs that women have no souls, and that when a man is being “polite” to a woman he is simply ascribing to her the minimum sense of personal value, a form of deference to which importance is attached precisely in the measure that it is misunderstood.
the non-moral nature of woman reveals itself in the mode in which she can so easily forget an immoral action she has committed. it is almost characteristic of a woman that she cannot believe that she has done wrong, and so is able to deceive both herself and her husband. men, on the other hand, remember nothing so well as the guilty episodes of their lives. here memory reveals itself as eminently a moral phenomenon. forgiving and forgetting, not forgiving and understanding, go together. when one remembers a lie, one reproaches oneself afresh about it. a woman forgets, because she does not blame herself for an act of meanness, because she does not understand it, having no relation to the moral idea. it is not surprising that she is ready to lie. women have been regarded as virtuous simply because the problem of morality has not presented itself to them; they have been held to be even more moral than man; this is simply because they do not understand immorality. the innocence of a child is not meritorious; if a patriarch could be innocent he might be praised for it.
introspection is an attribute confined to males, if we leave out of account the hysterical self-reproaches of certain women – and consciousness of guilt and repentance are equally male. the penances that women lay on themselves, remarkable imitations of the sense of guilt, will be discussed when i come to deal with what passes for introspection in the female sex. the “subject” of introspection is the moral agent; it has a relation to the psychical phenomena only in so far as it sits in judgment on them.
it is quite in the nature of positivism that comte denies the possibility of introspection, and throws ridicule on it. for certainly it is absurd that a psychical event and a judgment of it could coincide if the interpretations of the positivists be accepted. it is only on the assumption that there exists an ego unconditioned by time and intrinsically capable of moral judgments, endowed with memory and with the power of making comparisons, that we can justify the belief in the possibility of introspection.
if woman had a sense of personal value and the will to defend it against all external attacks she could not be jealous. apparently all women are jealous, and jealousy depends on the failure to recognise the rights of others. even the jealousy of a mother when she sees another woman’s daughters married before her own depends simply on her want of the sense of justice.
without justice there can be no society, so that jealousy is an absolutely unsocial quality. the formation of societies in reality presupposes the existence of true individuality. woman has no faculty for the affairs of state or politics, as she has no social inclinations; and women’s societies, from which men are excluded, are certain to break up after a short time. the family itself is not really a social structure; it is essentially unsocial, and men who give up their clubs and societies after marriage soon rejoin them. i had written this before the appearance of heinrich schurtz’ valuable ethnological work, in which he shows that associations of men, and not the family, form the beginnings of society.
pascal made the wonderful remark that human beings seek society only because they cannot bear solitude and wish to forget themselves. it is the fact expressed in these words which puts in harmony my earlier statement that women had not the faculty of solitude and my present statement that she is essentially unsociable.
if a woman possessed an “ego” she would have the sense of property both in her own case and that of others. the thieving instinct, however, is much more developed in men than in women. so-called “kleptomanics” (those who steal without necessity) are almost exclusively women. women understand power and riches but not personal property. when the thefts of female kleptomaniacs are discovered, the women defend themselves by saying that it appeared to them as if everything belonged to them. it is chiefly women who use circulating libraries, especially those who could quite well afford to buy quantities of books; but, as matter of fact, they are not more strongly attracted by what they have bought than by what they have borrowed. in all these matters the relation between individuality and society comes into view; just as a man must have personality himself to appreciate the personalities of others, so also he must acquire a sense of personal right in his own property to respect the rights of others.
one’s name and a strong devotion to it are even more dependent on personality than is the sense of property. the facts that confront us with reference to this are so salient that it is extraordinary to find so little notice taken of them. women are not bound to their names with any strong bond. when they marry they give up their own name and assume that of their husband without any sense of loss. they allow their husbands and lovers to call them by new names, delighting in them; and even when a woman marries a man that she does not love, she has never been known to suffer any psychical shock at the change of name. the name is a symbol of individuality; it is only amongst the lowest races on the face of the earth, such as the bushmen of south africa, that there are no personal names, because amongst such as these the desire for distinguishing individuals from the general stock is not felt. the fundamental namelessness of the woman is simply a sign of her undifferentiated personality.
an important observation may be mentioned here and may be confirmed by every one. whenever a man enters a place where a woman is, and she observes him, or hears his step, or even only guesses he is near, she becomes another person. her expression and her pose change with incredible swiftness; she “arranges her fringe” and her bodice, and rises, or pretends to be engrossed in her work. she is full of a half shameless, half-nervous expectation. in many cases one is only in doubt as to whether she is blushing for her shameless laugh, or laughing over her shameless blushing.
the soul, personality, character – as schopenhauer with marvelous sight recognised – are identical with free-will. and as the female has no ego, she has no free-will. only a creature with no will of its own, no character in the highest sense, could be so easily influenced by the mere proximity to a man as woman is, who remains in functional dependence on him instead of in free relationship to him. woman is the best medium, the male her best hypnotiser. for this reason alone it is inconceivable why women can be considered good as doctors; for many doctors admit that their principal work up to the present – and it will always be the same – lies in the suggestive influence on their patients.
the female is uniformly more easily hypnotised than the male throughout the animal world, and it may be seen from the following how closely hypnotic phenomena are related to the most ordinary events. i have already described, in discussing female sympathy, how easy it is for laughter or tears to be induced in females. how impressed she is by everything in the newspapers! what a martyr she is to the silliest superstitions! how eagerly she tries every remedy recommended by her friends!
whoever is lacking in character is lacking in convictions. the female, therefore, is credulous, uncritical, and quite unable to understand protestantism. christians are catholics or protestants before they are baptized, but, none the less, it would be unfair to describe catholicism as feminine simply because it suits women better. the distinction between the catholic and protestant dispositions is a side of characterology that would require separate treatment.
it has been exhaustively proved that the female is soulless and possesses neither ego nor individuality, personality nor freedom, character nor will. this conclusion is of the highest significance in psychology. it implies that the psychology of the male and of the female must be treated separately. a purely empirical representation of the psychic life of the female is possible; in the case of the male, all the psychic life must be considered with reference to the ego.
the view of hume (and mach), which only admits that there are “impressions” and “thoughts”, and has almost driven the psyche out of present day psychology, declares that the whole world is to be considered exclusively as a picture in a reflector, a sort of kaleidoscope; it merely reduces everything to a dance of the “elements,” without thought or order; it denies the possibility of obtaining a secure standpoint for thought; it not only destroys the idea of truth, and accordingly of reality, the only claims on which philosophy rests, but it also is to blame for the wretched plight of modern psychology.
this modern psychology proudly styles itself the “psychology without the soul,” in imitation of its much overrated founder, friedrich albert lange. i think i have proved in this work that without the acknowledgment of a soul there would be no way of dealing with psychic phenomena; just as much in the case of the male who has a soul as in the case of the female who is soulless.
modern psychology is eminently womanish, and that is why this comparative investigation of the sexes is so specially instructive, and it is not without reason that i have delayed pointing out this radical difference; it is only now that it can be seen what the acceptation of the ego implies, and how the confusing of masculine and feminine spiritual life (in the broadest and deepest sense) has been at the root of all the difficulties and errors into which those who have sought to establish a universal psychology have fallen.
i must now raise the question – is a psychology of the male possible as a science? the answer must be that it is not possible. i must be understood to reject all the investigations of the experimenters, and those who are still sick with the experimental fever may ask in wonder if all these have no value? experimental psychology has not given a single explanation as to the deeper laws of masculine life; it can be regarded only as a series of sporadic empirical efforts, and its method is wrong inasmuch as it seeks to reach the kernel of things by surface examination, and as it cannot possibly give an explanation of the deep-seated source of all psychical phenomena. when it has attempted to discover the real nature of psychical phenomena by measurements of the physical phenomena that accompany them, it has succeeded in showing that even in the most favourable cases there is an inconstancy and variation. the fundamental possibility of reaching the mathematical idea of knowledge is that the data should be constant. as the mind itself is the creator of time and space, it is impossible to expect that geometry and arithmetic should explain the mind. . . .
the wild and repeated efforts to derive the will from psychological factors, from perception and feeling, are in themselves evidence that it cannot be taken as an empirical factor. the will, like the power of judgment, is associated inevitably with the existence of an ego, or soul. it is not a matter of experience, it transcends experience, and until psychology recognises this extraneous factor, it will remain no more than a methodical annex of physiology and biology. if the soul is only a complex of experiences it cannot be the factor that makes experiences possible. modern psychology in reality denies the existence of the soul, but the soul rejects modern psychology. . . .
it is extraordinary how inquirers who have made no attempt to analyse such phenomena as shame and the sense of guilt, faith and hope, fear and repentance, love and hate, yearning and solitude, vanity and sensitiveness, ambition and the desire for immortality, have yet the courage simply to deny the ego because it does not flaunt itself like the colour of an orange or the taste of a peach. how can mach and hume account for such a thing as style, if individuality does not exist? or again, consider this: no animal is made afraid by seeing its reflection in a glass, whilst there is no man who could spend his life in a room surrounded with mirrors. can this fear, the fear of the doppelganger (it is notable that women are devoid of this fear; female doppelgangers are not heard of), be explained on darwinian principles. the word doppelganger has only to be mentioned to raise a deep dread in the mind of any man. empirical psychology cannot explain this; it reaches the depths. it cannot be explained, as mach would explain the fear of little children, as an inheritance from some primitive, less secure stage of society. i have taken this example only to remind the empirical psychologists that there are many things inexplicable on their hypotheses.
why is any man annoyed when he is described as a wagnerite, a nietzchite, a herbartian, or so forth? he objects to be thought a mere echo. even ernst mach is angry in anticipation at the thought that some friend will describe him as a positivist, idealist, or any other non-individual term. this feeling must not be confused with the results of the fact that a man may describe himself as a wagnerite, and so forth. the latter is simply a deep approval of wagnerism, because the approver is himself a wagnerite. the man is conscious that his agreement is in reality a raising of the value of wagnerism. and so also a man will say much about himself that he would not permit another to say of him. . . .
it cannot be right to consider such men as pascal and newton, on the one hand, as men of the highest genius, on the other, as limited by a mass of prejudices which we of the present generation have long overcome. is the present generation with its electrical railways and empirical psychology so much higher than these earlier times? is culture, if culture has any real value, to be compared with science, which is always social and never individual, and to be measured by the number of public libraries and laboratories? is culture outside human beings and not always in human beings?
it is in striking harmony with the ascription to men alone of an ineffable, inexplicable personality, that in all the authenticated cases of double or multiple personality the subjects have been women. the absolute female is capable of sub-division; the male, even to the most complete characterology and the most acute experiment, is always an indivisible unit. the male has a central nucleus of his being which has no parts, and cannot be divided; the female is composite, and so can be dissociated and cleft.
and so it is most amusing to hear writers talking of the soul of the woman, of her heart and its mysteries, of the psyche of the modern woman. it seems almost as if even an accoucheur would have to prove his capacity by the strength of his belief in the soul of women. most women, at least, delight to hear discussions on their souls, although they know, so far as they can be said to know anything, that the whole thing is a swindle. the woman as the sphinx! never was a more ridiculous, a more audacious fraud perpetrated. man is infinitely more mysterious, incomparably more complicated.
it is only necessary to look at the faces of women one passes in the streets. there is scarcely one whose expression could not at once be summed up. the register of woman’s feelings and disposition is so terribly poor, whereas men’s countenances can scarcely be read after long and earnest scrutiny.
finally, i come to the question as to whether there exists a complete parallelism or a condition of reciprocal interaction between mind and body. in the case of the female, psycho- physical parallelism exists in the form of a complete coordination between the mental and the physical; in women the capacity for mental exertion ceases with senile involution, just as it developed in connection with and in subservience to the sexual instincts. the intelligence of man never grows as old as that of the woman, and it is only in isolated cases that degeneration of the mind is linked with degeneration of the body. least of all does mental degeneration accompany the bodily weakness of old age in those who have genius, the highest development of mental masculinity. . . .
in the earlier pages of my volume i contrasted the clarity of male thinking processes with their vagueness in woman, and later on showed that the power of orderly speech, in which logical judgments are expressed, acts on woman as a male sexual character. whatever is sexually attractive to the female must be characteristic of the male. firmness in a man’s character makes a sexual impression on a woman, whilst she is repelled by the pliant man. people often speak of the moral influence exerted on men by women, when no more is meant than that women are striving to attain their sexual complements. women demand manliness from men, and feel deeply disappointed and full of contempt if men fail them in this respect. however untruthful or great a flirt a woman may be, she is bitterly indignant if she discovers traces of coquetry or untruthfulness in a man. she may be as cowardly as she likes, but the man must be brave. it has been almost completely overlooked that this is only a sexual egotism seeking to secure the most satisfactory sexual complement. from the side of empirical observation, no stronger proof of the soullessness of woman could be drawn than that she demands a soul in man, that she who is not good in herself demands goodness from him. the soul is a masculine character, pleasing to women in the same way and for the same purpose as a masculine body or a well-trimmed moustache. i may be accused of stating the case coarsely, but it is none the less true. it is the man’s will that in the last resort influences a woman most powerfully, and she has a strong faculty for perceiving whether a man’s “i will” means mere bombast or actual decision. in the latter case the effect on her is prodigious.
how is it that woman, who is soulless herself, can discern the soul in man? how can she judge about his morality who is herself non-moral? how can she grasp his character when she has no character herself? how appreciate his will when she is herself without will?
these difficult problems lie before us, and their solutions must be placed on strong foundations, for there will be many attempts to destroy them.
excerpt from sex and character
read the entire book here
You were never a person. Sure, I always realized that there must be blood in your fingertips as they played sweet keyboard serenades. I also knew that the sound of your breath must have air coming from your lungs; your beating chest must have a heart in there keeping pace. Your cock too: very real. Hard and sticky; a beautiful architectural structure built with text and fantasy. You were, to me, pathology, a mirage, a memory : a hollowness where my cunt and I could find some rest. But you were never a person. People can forget about people, they do it all the time.
Rebecca Cooper makes sex collages. Kaleidoscopic arrangements of pornographic images, abstracted and spiraling in endless circles of lust, pleasure and skin. Her titty/willy hobby-craftworks are then arranged together on display, in massive wall installations, like groupings of sexual snowflakes from a sinful sky.
This man lives in the building next door. He gyms everyday. So tonight, it’s a hot one. Like thirty some degrees outside. I’m standing on the balcony watching the half moon and this man gets out of his car in the dark. He must have been sitting there for a while listening to radio or something. And I look down and I catch a glimpse of his immaculate topless body glistening in the moonlight. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all week. How flesh moves when it’s proud and warm. Objects, walking to heartbeats, treading on lust: human hides floating above the heat.
BOSTON—“Fifty Shades of Grey,” the book and the movie, is a celebration of the sadism that dominates nearly every aspect of American culture and lies at the core of pornography and global capitalism. It glorifies our dehumanization of women. It champions a world devoid of compassion, empathy and love. It eroticizes hypermasculine power that carries out the abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture of women whose personalities have been removed, whose only desire is to debase themselves in the service of male lust. The film, like “American Sniper,”unquestioningly accepts a predatory world where the weak and the vulnerable are objects to exploit while the powerful are narcissistic and violent demigods. It blesses this capitalist hell as natural and good.
“Pornography,” Robert Jensen writes, “is what the end of the world looks like.”
We are blinded by self-destructive fantasy. An array of amusements and spectacles, including TV “reality” shows, huge sporting events, social media, porn (which earns at least twice what Hollywood movies generate), alluring luxury products, drugs, alcohol and magic Jesus, offers enticing exit doors from reality. We yearn to be rich, powerful and celebrities. And those we must trample to build our pathetic little empires are seen as deserving their fate. That nearly all of us will never attain these ambitions is emblematic of our collective self-delusion and the effectiveness of a culture awash in manipulation and lies.
Porn seeks to eroticize this sadism. In porn women are paid to repeat the mantra “I am a cunt. I am a bitch. I am a whore. I am a slut. Fuck me hard with your big cock.” They plead to be physically abused. Porn caters to degrading racist stereotypes. Black men are sexually potent beasts stalking white women. Black women have a raw, primitive lust. Latin women are sultry and hotblooded. Asian women are meek, sexually submissive geishas. In porn, human imperfections do not exist. The oversized silicone breasts, the pouting, gel-inflated lips, the bodies sculpted by plastic surgeons, the drug-induced erections that never subside and the shaved pubic regions—which cater to porn’s pedophilia—turn performers into pieces of plastic. Smell, sweat, breath, heartbeats and touch are erased along with tenderness. Women in porn are packaged commodities. They are pleasure dolls and sexual puppets. They are stripped of true emotions. Porn is not about sex, if one defines sex as a mutual act between two partners, but about masturbation, a solitary auto-arousal devoid of intimacy and love. The cult of the self—that is the essence of porn—lies at the core of corporate culture. Porn, like global capitalism, is where human beings are sent to die.
There are few people on the left who grasp the immense danger of allowing pornography to replace intimacy, sex and love. Much of the left believes that pornography is about free speech, as if it is unacceptable to financially exploit and physically abuse a woman in a sweatshop in China but acceptable to do so on the set of a porn film, as if torture is wrong in Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were sexually humiliated and abused as if they were on a porn set, but permissible on commercial porn sites.
A new wave of feminists, who have betrayed the iconic work of radicals such as Andrea Dworkin, defends porn as a form of sexual liberation and self-empowerment. These “feminists,” grounded in Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, are stunted products of neoliberalism and postmodernism. Feminism, for them, is no longer about the liberation of women who are oppressed; it is defined by a handful of women who are successful, powerful and wealthy—or, as in the case of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” able to snag a rich and powerful man. A woman wrote the “Fifty Shades” book, as well as the screenplay. A woman directed the film. A woman studio head bought the movie. This collusion by women is part of the internalization of oppression and sexual violence that have their roots in porn. Dworkin understood. She wrote that “the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.”
I met Gail Dines, one of the most important radicals in the country, in a small cafe in Boston on Tuesday. She is the author of “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality” and a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College. Dines, along with a handful of others including Jensen, fearlessly decry a culture that is as depraved as Caligula’s Rome.
“The porn industry has hijacked the sexuality of an entire culture and is laying waste to a whole generation of boys,” she warned. “And when you lay waste to a generation of boys, you lay waste to a generation of girls.”
“When you fight porn you fight global capitalism,” she said. “The venture capitalists, the banks, the credit card companies are all in this feeding chain. This is why you never see anti-porn stories. The media is implicated. It is financially in bed with these companies. Porn is part of this. Porn tells us we have nothing left as human beings—boundaries, integrity, desire, creativity and authenticity. Women are reduced to three orifices and two hands. Porn is woven into the corporate destruction of intimacy and connectedness, and this includes connectedness to the earth. If we were a society where we were whole, connected human beings in real communities, then we would not be able to look at porn. We would not be able to watch another human being tortured.
“If you are going to give a tiny percent of the world the vast majority of the goodies, you better make sure you have a good ideological system in place that legitimizes why everyone else is suffering economically,” she said. “This is what porn does. Porn tells you that material inequality between women and men is not the result of an economic system. It is biologically based. And women, being whores and bitches and only good for sex, don’t deserve full equality. Porn is the ideological mouthpiece that legitimizes our material system of inequality. Porn is to patriarchy what the media is to capitalism.”
To keep the legions of easily bored male viewers aroused, porn makers produce videos that are increasingly violent and debasing. Extreme Associates, which specializes in graphic rape scenes, along with JM Productions, promotes the very real pain endured by women on its sets. JM Productions pioneered “aggressive throat fucking” or “face fucking” videos such as the “Gag Factor” series, in which women gag and often vomit. It ushered in “swirlies,” in which the male performer dunks the woman’s head into a toilet after sex and then flushes. The company promises, “Every whore gets the swirlies treatment. Fuck her, then flush her.” Repeated and violent anal penetration triggers anal prolapse, a condition in which the inner walls of a woman’s rectum collapse and protrude from her anus. This is called “rosebudding.” Some women, penetrated repeatedly by numerous men on porn shoots, often after taking handfuls of painkillers, require anal and vaginal reconstructive surgery. Female performers may suffer from sexually transmitted diseases and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And with porn mainstreamed—some porn video participants are treated like film celebrities by talk show hosts such as Oprah and Howard Stern—the behavior promoted by porn, including stripping, promiscuity, S&M and exhibitionism, has become chic. Porn also sets the standard for female beauty and female comportment. And this has had terrifying consequences for girls.
“Women are told in our society they have two choices,” Dines said. “They are either fuckable or invisible. To be fuckable means to conform to the porn culture, to look hot, be submissive and do what the man wants. That’s the only way you get visibility. You cannot ask adolescent girls, who are dying for visibility, to choose invisibility.”
None of this, Dines pointed out, was by accident. Porn grew out of the commodity culture, the need by corporate capitalists to sell products.
“In post-Second-World-War America you have the emergence of a middle class with a disposable income,” she said. “The only trouble is that this group was born to parents who had been through a depression and a war. They did not know how to spend. They only knew how to save. What [the capitalists] needed to jump-start the economy was to get people to spend money on stuff they did not need. For women they brought in the television soaps. One of the reasons the ranch house was developed was because [families] only had one television. The television was in the living room and women spent a lot of time in the kitchen. You had to devise a house where she could watch television from the kitchen. She was being taught.”
“But who was teaching the men how to spend money?” she went on. “It was Playboy [Magazine]. This was the brilliance of Hugh Hefner. He understood that you don’t just commodify sexuality, you sexualize commodities. The promise that Playboy held out was not the girls or the women, it was that if you buy at this level, if you consume at the level Playboy tells you to, then you will get the prize, which is the women. The step that was crucial to getting the prize was the consumption of commodities. He wrapped porn, which sexualized and commoditized women’s bodies, in an upper-middle-class blanket. He gave it a veneer of respectability.”
The VCR, the DVD and, later, the Internet allowed porn to be pumped into individual homes. The glossy, still images of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler became tame, even quaint. America, and much of the rest of the world, became pornified. The income of the global porn industry is estimated at $96 billion, with the United States market worth about $13 billion. There are, Dines writes, “420 million Internet porn pages, 4.2 million porn Web sites, and 68 million search engine requests for porn daily.” [To see excerpts from Dines’ book, click here.]
Along with the rise of pornography there has been an explosion in sex-related violence, including domestic abuse, rape and gang rape. A rape is reported every 6.2 minutes in the United States, but the estimated total, taking into account unreported assaults, is perhaps five times higher, as Rebecca Solnit points out in her book “Men Explain Things to Me.”
“So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over a thousand homicides of that kind a year—meaning that every three years the death toll tops 9/11’s casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular kind of terror,” Solnit writes. Porn, meanwhile, is ever more accessible.
“With a mobile phone you can deliver porn to men who live in highly concentrated neighborhoods in Brazil and India,” Dines said. “If you have one laptop in the family, the man can’t sit in the middle of the room and jerk off to it. With a phone, porn becomes portable. The average kid gets his porn through the mobile phone.”
The old porn industry, which found its profits in movies, is dead. The points of production no longer generate profits. The distributors of porn make the money. And one distributor, MindGeek, a global IT company, dominates porn distribution. Free porn is used on the Internet as bait by MindGeek to lure viewers to pay-per-view porn sites. Most users are adolescent boys. It is, Dines said, “like handing out cigarettes outside of a middle school. You get them addicted.”
“Around the ages of 12 to 15 you are developing your sexual template,” she said. “You get [the boys] when they are beginning to construct their sexual identity. You get them for life. If you begin by jerking off to cruel, hardcore, violent porn then you are not going to want intimacy and connection. Studies are showing that boys are losing interest in sex with real women. They can’t sustain erections with real women. In porn there is no making love. It is about making hate. He despises her. He is revolted and disgusted by her. If you bleed out the love you have to fill it with something to make it interesting. They fill it with violence, degradation, cruelty and hate. And that also gets boring. So you have to keep ratcheting it up. Men get off in porn from women being submissive. Who is more submissive than children? The inevitable route of all porn is child porn. And this is why organizations that fight child porn and do not fight adult porn are making a huge mistake.”
The abuse inherent in pornography goes unquestioned in large part by both men and women. Look at the movie ticket sales for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which opened the day before Valentine’s Day and is expected to take in up to $90 million over the four-day weekend (which includes Presidents Day on Monday).
by Maria PopovaA
From common sense to conjugal bliss, by way of corsets and chivalry.
“If you are as interested in sex as you say you are, there is a really lovely book about it in my study — on a top shelf. It’s red, and it’s called The ABZ of Love,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote to is wife Jane in a 1965 letter published in the fantastic new volume Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, and he signed, “Love from A to Z, — K”. Naturally, I went hunting for the obscure vintage tome, which turned out to be as kooky and wonderful as Vonnegut’s recommendation promises. An ABZ of Love (public library), a sort of dictionary of romance and sexual relationships covering everything from radical-for-the-era topics like birth control and homosexuality to mundanities like bidets and picnics to abstractions like disappointment and excess, was originally published in 1963 by Danish husband-and-wife duo Inge and Sten Hegeler, featuring gorgeous black-and-white sketches by artist Eiler Krag reminiscent of Henri Matisse’s Ulysses etchings.
The book is presented with the disclaimer that rather than an ABC textbook for beginners, it is a “personal and subjective supplement to the many other outstanding scientific books on sexual enlightenment already in existence,” setting out to describe “in lexical form a few aspects of sexual relationships seen from a slightly different standpoint.” Indeed, the book was in many ways ahead of its time and of the era’s mainstream, pushing hard against bigotry and advocating for racial, gender, and LGBT equality with equal parts earnestness and wry wit.
The Hegelers, who “have tried to be straightforward and frank,” write poetically in the introduction:
If we look through a piece of glass, irregularities and impurities may distort and discolor the impression of what we see. If we regard something through a convex lens, it appears to be upside down. But if we place a concave lens in front of the convex lens, we correct the distortion in the convex lens and things no longer appear topsy-turvy. Each one of us regards the world through his own lens, his own glasses. The effect of those glasses is that, even though we may be looking at the same thing, not all of us actually see the same thing. The lenses are ground by each individual’s upbringing, disposition and other factors.
This book is neither art nor science — even though it borrows ingredients from both. It is more by way of being an extra piece of glass through which we can regard a part of life. One can slip it in between one’s own glasses and the window.
It is a piece of glass we have found and polished up a bit. We have looked through it and thought the world looked a bit more human. Perhaps some will think the same as we do.
Many of the entries focus on debunking stereotypes and condemning bigotry, accompanied by apt illustrations.
Some are even outright snarky:
A delightful entry under Sense, common echoes Anaïs Nin’s timeless insight on emotional excess and reads:
Everybody talks about using common sense. Many believe that we are all basically imbued with common sense. It is said that women are creatures of emotion, but that men use their common sense. Nonsense. We are all extremely prone to be guided by our emotions in our choices, actions, judgements, etc.
We are none of us so full of common sense as we would like to think ourselves.
So there are two paths we can take: one is try to deny and suppress our emotions and force ourselves to think sensibly. In this way we run the risk of fooling ourselves.
The other way is to admit to our emotions, accept our feelings and let them come out into the daylight. By being suspicious of all the judgements we pass on the basis of what we feel (and not until then) we shall taken a step towards becoming practitioners of common sense.
The Hegelers don’t shy away from the philosophical and the prescriptive:
Under Development, there’s a somewhat humorous infographic look at the stages of erotic development. We would like it to be follow a course in which “we very rapidly and regularly become cleverer and cleverer”:
We imagine it goes something like this:
In reality, however, it’s more something like this:
…after swinging around a certain point for a time, very small swings to and from in either direction, a sudden drop with the resultant feeling of hopelessness [and then] once more pendulation around one point for a time, then a drop, then that hopeless feeling, improvement again, etc., etc., without ever reaching the absolute ideal. Disappointments and depressions are necessary features of any process of learning, every development.
Among the more interesting entries is one under Personality, explaining the Freudian model of the self through a visual analogy of a Native American totem pole, with the disclaimer that personality is still an open question:
A person’s personality is the sum of all the things in a person that go to determine the said person’s relationship to other people.
Many theories have been expounded concerning human personality. Many models have been made in an attempt to show what actually happens. Some of these theories are more practical than others, but none of them is correct. We still know too little — perhaps we shall never find the right one. The one which will be described here is of course not the right one either. It is the one used in psychoanalysis.
This model — like so many other theories — is a picture, an attempt to explain something unknown with the help of something known. If we think of personality as the Indian totem pole with three faces corresponding to three persons it will give us an idea of the model.
The three persons have names and are very different in character:
1) The top face is rather strict and censorious. A bit of a light-snuffer. We call this person the super ego, and it represents everything we have learnt concerning what is right and wrong. The super ego reminds us how to drive through traffic, how to hold a knife and fork and generally speaking how ‘one’ behaves. It is also the voice of conscience.
2) The bottom face on the totem pole is a person we call the id. This person takes care of our wishes and urges and needs — the very honest, primitive, but likewise somewhat ruthless powers with in us. The face of the id is therefore a somewhat primitive, uninhibited, wild and brutal mug.
3) The middle face is our own. It is called the ego and is a little squashed between the other two faces. While the upper face possibly resembles our parents, and the bottom face appears a little strange to us, we find it easiest to accept the middle face — a compromise between what we want to do and what we are allowed to.
We are a little perplexed because if we are very good and reserved — then the bottom person thrashes his tail and rebels while the top person nods approvingly. And if we are too abandoned and let the bottom person have his own way –well, we find ourselves landed with a bad conscience, because the upper person grumbles.
So we have to strike a balance. We have to stick to certain moral code — stick to certain rules of the road in order to mingle with the traffic. But we must also pay attention to our ‘nature’ — our id — who likewise demands his rights.
Both beautifully illustrated and boldly defiant of its era’s biases, An ABZ of Love is, just as Vonnegut assured his wife, absolutely wonderful.
Female sex dolls have been around for decades.
But until now, the rubber women have taken on an extremely fake quality, with even the untrained eye able to spot one from a mile off.
But in this new photo shoot by New York fashion photographer Stacy Leigh, many of the toys appear very human-like.
Photographer Stacy Leigh from New York has 12 dolls of her own. She positioned the toys in fashionable clothing and life-like poses. Stacy wanted to prove that the mannequins can be very attractive.
The collection of love dolls worth up to £4,000 each, have been carefully dressed and posed as if they are taking part in a glamour shoot.
Stacy, 43, decided to create her project, which she calls ‘Average Americans’ to prove how anyone could find themselves fancying mannequin-like dolls, taking the stigma away from those who use them.
She said: ‘Men and women both use the dolls as replacements for human companionship, whether by choice or necessity.’
‘I believe it’s perfectly fine if it makes one’s journey through life more bearable.’
She continued: ‘My photos are about life and relationships and sexuality.
‘Some people are repulsed by the dolls, while others are empathetic towards them.
‘As the world becomes more digital and less personal, dolls and robots will become more commonplace as surrogates for relationships.
‘I can only hope that my photos spark an emotion or connection in the viewer.’
A world away from blow-up sex dolls of the past, love dolls or real dolls as they are also known, have become increasingly popular as they have become more realistic looking.
Many collectors refer to their love dolls as their ‘girlfriends’ and have full sexual relationships with them.
When buying a love doll, customers can choose to customise everything from hair, eye and skin colour to boob size and even the shape and style of the vagina.
Stacy, who owns 12 real dolls, explained how she became involved in collecting and photographing her plastic subjects.
She said: ‘I watched a TV show called REAL SEX on HBO that featured Real dolls.’
‘I had always wanted a life size doll, as I have been collecting small fashion dolls since I was a child.
‘I perused the internet with the intention of using a love doll as my sitting model for photography.
‘When my first doll arrived, I began to photograph her and the rest is history.
‘Over the last decade, my job has become far easier as manufacturers add more realism to their products.’
She continued: ‘These days, for my personal projects- I add make up to completely confuse the viewer.
‘I’ve added wrinkles and depth to the face, much in the same way I would a painting.
‘I received accolades for my ability to pose, and ‘breathe life’ into them.
My Love is Too Much
My love is too much—
it embarrasses you—
blood, poems, babies,
red needs that telephone
from foreign countries,
black needs that spatter
of your white papery heart.
You would rather have a girl
with simpler needs:
lunch, sex, undemanding
dinner, wine, bed,
the occasional blow-job
& needs that are never
red as gaping wounds
but cool & blue
as television screens
in tract houses.
Oh my love,
those simple girls
with simple needs
read my books too.
They tell me they feel
the same as I do.
They tell me I transcribe
the language of their hearts.
They tell me I translate
their mute, unspoken pain
into the white light
is ever wholly undemanding.
It can pretend coolness
until the pain comes,
until the first baby comes,
howling her own infant need
into a universe
that never summoned her.
The love you seek
cannot be found
except in the white pages
of recipe books.
It is cooking you seek,
cooking with sex coming after,
that speaks to the penis alone,
& not the howling chaos
of the heart.
© Erica Mann Jong
“One is not born a woman, one becomes one.”- Simone Beauvoir
You can only be a good lover if you are a good actress.
Not for the pleasure of your partner alone, but fundamentally for your own pleasure. I don’t mean this in the sense of ‘faking an orgasm’, but in a much broader, deeper sense.
Are there people out there who feels completely satisfied making love as themselves, as the secretary typing memo’s, as the doctor slicing open bodies, as the cleaning lady scrubbing the toilet, as the teacher sweeping classrooms and wiping snotty noses?
You have to make love as a lover. It’s a transformation that has to take place, especially in females.
A man doesn’t care about roles, or transformations. His cock is enough.
“Bataille’s works, better than any other I know of, indicate the aesthetic possibilities of pornography as an art form: Histore de l’Oeil being the most accomplished artistically of all the pornographic prose fictions I’ve read.” …..
Human sexuality is, quite apart from Christian repressions, a highly questionable phenomena, and belongs, at least potentially, among the extreme rather than ordinary experiences of humanity. Tamed as it may be, sexuality remains one of the demonic forces in human consciousness –pushing us at intervals close to taboo and dangerous desires, which range from the impulse to commit sudden arbitrary violence upon another person to the voluptuous yearning for extinction of one’s consciousness, for death itself. Even on the level of simple physical sensation and mood, making love surely resembles having an epileptic fit at least as much, if not more, than it does eating a meal or conversing with someone. Everyone has felt (at least in fantasy) the erotic glamor of physical cruelty and erotic lure in things that are vile and repulsive. These phenomena form a part of the genuine spectrum of sexuality, and if they are not to be written off as mere neurotic aberrations , the picture looks different from the one promoted by enlightened public opinion, and less simple.
One could plausibly argue that it is for quite sound reasons that the while capacity for sexual ecstasy is inaccessible to most people – given that sexuality is something, like nuclear energy, which may prove amenable to domestication through scruple, but then again may not. That few people regularly, or perhaps ever, experience their sexual capacities at this unsettling pitch doesn’t mean that the extreme is not authentic, or that the possibility of it doesn’t haunt them anyway. (Religion is probably, after sex, the second oldest resource which human beings have available to themselves for blowing their minds. Yet among the multitude of the pious, the number who have ventured very far into that state of consciousness must be fairly small,too) There is, demonstrably, something incorrectly designed and potentially disorientating in the human sexual capacity – at least in the capacities of man-in-civilization. Man, the sick animal, bears within him an appetite which can drive him mad. Such is the understanding of sexuality – as something beyond good and evil, beyond love, beyond sanity; as a resource for ordeal and for breaking through the limits of consciousness – that informs the French literary canon I’ve been discussing.
The Story of O, with its project for completely transcending personality, entirely presumes this dark and complex vision of sexuality so far removed from the hopeful view sponsored American Freudianism and liberal culture. The woman who is given no other name than O progresses simultaneously towards her own extinction as a human being and her fulfillment as a sexual being. It’s hard to imagine how anyone would ascertain whether there exists truly, empirically, anything in “nature” or human consciousness that supports such a split. But it seems understandable that the possibility has always haunted man, as accustomed as he is to decrying such a split. . .
Perhaps the deepest spiritual resonance of the career of pornography in its “modern” Western phase under consideration here is this vast frustration of human passion and seriousness since the old religious imagination, with its secure monopoly on the total imagination, began in the late eighteenth century to crumble. The ludicrousness and lack of skill of most pornographic writing, films, and painting is obvious to everyone who has ever been exposed to them. What is less often remarked about the typical products of the pornographic imagination is their pathos. Most pornography – the books discussed here cannot be excepted – points to something more general than even sexual damage. I mean the traumatic failure of modern capitalist society to provide authentic outlets for the perennial human flair for high-temperature visionary obsessions, to satisfy the appetite for exalted self-transcending modes of concentration and seriousness.. The need of human beings to transcend “the personal” is no less profound than to be a person, an individual. But this society serves that need poorly. It provides mainly demonic vocabularies in which to situate that need and from which to initiate action and construct rites of behavior. One is offered a choice among vocabularies of thought and action which are not merely self-transcending but self-destructive. . .
Joan Semmel (b.1932) is a painter who has centered her practice around issues of the body, from desire to aging, as well as those of identity and cultural imprinting. She studied at the Cooper Union, Pratt Institute and the Art Student’s League of New York. In the 1960s, Semmel began her painting career in Spain and South America, where she experimented with abstraction. She returned to New York in the early 1970s, where her practice turned towards figurative paintings, many with erotic themes in response to pornography, popular culture, and concerns around representation. Her practice traces the transformation that women’s sexuality has seen in the last century, and emphasizes the possibility for female autonomy through the body.
In the 1970s, Semmel began her exploration of female sexuality with the Erotic Series, large scale depictions of highly sexual positions. Her reclaimed gaze of the female nude heralded a feminist approach to painting and representation in the 1970s. Produced at a pivotal moment in her practice and in the cultural landscape of First-wave Feminism, her Erotic Series depicts couples entwined in various coital positions rendered with expressive gesture, exemplifying her keen understanding of color and composition. In 1973, she makes a definitive formal shift from abstraction by fully embracing figuration. Using her own body as subject, she began depicting her nudeness on canvas, shifting the perspective from that of an observer to a personal point of view. During the mid-to-late-1970s, Semmel turned to photography to capture reflections of her own body onto mirrors as documented by the camera.
In recent times, Semmel has meditated on the aging female physique; recent paintings continue the artist’s exploration of self-portraiture and female identity. These works represent the artist’s body, doubled, fragmented, and in-motion. Dissolving the space between artist and model, viewer and subject, the paintings are notable for their celebration of color and flesh. Soft and milky colors provide background for the luminous skin tones Semmel captures, as figure and ground merge. In many of the works, the artist confronts the viewer with a direct gaze, a departure from iconic earlier works in which the point of view that remained within the canvas itself.
Joan Semmel’s museum exhibitions include: Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC (2014); Me. Myself. Naked at the Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen, Germany (2013); Joan Semmel: A Lucid Eye at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (2013); Shifting the Gaze at the Jewish Museum (2010); Rebelle at the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem, The Netherlands (2009); Solitaire: Lee Lozano, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Joan Semmel at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2008); and the touring exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, MoCA, Los Angeles (2007). Semmel’s paintings are part of the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; Orange County Museum of Art, CA; Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY; the Jocelyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE; the Jewish Museum, New York; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award 2013, Anonymous Was a Woman (2008), and National Endowment for the Arts awards (1985 and 1980). She is Professor Emeritus of Painting at Rutgers University.
Writes Chloe Athanasopoulou, 2012, reblogged from here
Antoine d’Agata’s latest publication ICE continues his ongoing fascination with sex, drugs, death and dissecting taboos, finds Chloe Athanasopoulou.
Perhaps it is too soon to judge whether Antoine D’Agata’s newest incarnation, ICE, is his swan song, but undoubtedly, it is the most contextualised and revealing book he has produced so far. Refreshingly amoral, excessive beyond reason, paradoxical and seductive, his journey through the prism of the drug, metamphetamine hydrochloride or so-called ICE, is unlocked here not just by way of photography but also through extensive writing.
Alongside already familiar photographic work produced since 2005 in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, the injections of text throughout the book, such as his personal diary, emails to and from prostitutes portrayed in ICE, his editor, and his children back in France, offer a new dimension and level of complexity to his work that refrains from repetition. ICE is not an answer, but rather a multi-layered question, a circle of construction and destruction where the chronological distance between the photographs taken becomes spirally bigger together with the intensity of the pure experience. Antoine’s ambivalence between pain and pleasure, and instinctive gravitation towards the fugitive and circumstantial leaves no space for romantic notions of idealised beauty.
The protagonists of ICE are contemporary nymphs; abyssal and suffering, humane but still hard to reach and to keep hold of. Ka, the most beloved and indeed photographed of all the girls, is a contemporary Olympia, a Baudelairean Red Hair Beggar Girl, a queen, a prostitute, a cannibal, an anorexic desire and still, as D’Agata describes her, “taller than a mountain”. The complex relationship between the prostitutes and the photographer is exposed through the extraordinary textual part of ICE; the shocking honesty and brutal rawness from both parts in regards to sensitive matters, such as the exploitation of the sitter, intimacy, sex and love, is far from pretentious and counteracts the judgemental and reassuring predisposition of our times.
The oeuvre of Antoine d’Agata has never been easy to digest and ICE is unquestionably his toughest body of work yet. The rigour and sheer determination of his quest reveals much of himself but uniquely, and crucially, opens up to the experience of his subjects.
Some content on this page was disabled on 20/07/2015 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from David Kregenow. You can learn more about the DMCA here: