In the past few years, the Femme Project has been evolving and learning about how women are perceived and represented in American society. Last year, the #MeToo movement drove a wave of anger, and protest by women no longer content to remain silent in the shadows. The words and actions of our Misogynist-In-Chief and the abuses by men in power on such a vast scale resulted in women standing and speaking with a single voice. “NO MORE.” In the midst of one bad news cycle after another, I began to think hard about the dynamic of sex and what role it plays in women’s equality. To be a woman is to be part of a sisterhood of common experience around bad sex, marginalization, sexual harassment and assault, slut shaming, and, most tragically, rape. Since starting the Femme Project, women’s issues have been the focus of my work, albeit the themes were more broad and expansive in order to explore the experience of “all” women. After much reflection about my artistic direction, I believe it is time for change.
I believe unequivocally that women cannot be truly equal until they own and control the conversation about their sex and sexuality. I choose the word “sex” to be used atypically and it has become the basis for the launch of the #RespectHerSex movement. The word “sex” includes more than just the common understanding of sex as gender or sex as intercourse. Sex encompasses both the biological and pleasurable experiences in a woman’s sexual journey throughout her lifetime. This is important, because we, as women, are not having a conversation about sex, our own pleasure, or even how the dynamic of sex is at the root of some of the most critical issues facing women today.
Misogyny and sexism is not just a conservative disease or male affliction. In my experience, some of the most liberal and enlightened women are not talking about the elephant in the room: SEX. Not just our biology, which has gotten a lot of play thanks to the sitting U.S. president who openly bragged about sexual assault as a way to dominate “hot” women. I am talking about the dynamic of how women engage in sex for pleasure and sexual activity, either alone, or with a partner. This topic makes even the most progressive women feel uncomfortable, roll their eyes, and change the subject. Society tells women, that they should censor their naked bodies in the name of family values. But sex sells perfume, athletic wear and potato chips on billboards in Times Square and in Superbowl time slots. The religious right continues to blame and shame women for their sex and sexuality, crusading to ban Cosmopolitan Magazine from the checkout aisles of Walmart in the name of decency and “empowerment.” Meanwhile, the liberal left and moderate middle ignore the guerrilla warfare in their backyard. Amid this zealotry and apathy, women continue to be socialized, shamed, and victimized in ways that men will never experience and most can’t even understand.
So, into the fray I jump with both feet!
What Can You Expect?
It’s gonna get real! Expect more social media posts, blog posts, projects, and content focused on women’s sex and sexuality. It’s time to normalize sex as a topic that we can, and SHOULD, talk about. Sex is fundamental to our identity as women. We need to embrace it. We need to celebrate it. In 2018, I am creating short films, erotic literature, and visual art that will be themed and focused on how we, as women, experience and express our sex.
Sex, masturbation, fantasies, and explorations are all fair game. I want to challenge women and men to think differently about how we engage sex. An entire generation of young men and women are growing up in a society that censors information about sex, but at the same time, provides access to an unlimited world of pornography. This contradiction creates an environment and perception about sex that is dangerous for women. I encourage … no, actually … I DEMAND that women learn about their bodies and experiment with them. I want to shut down shaming before it starts. If a 47-year-old woman wants to bare it all in a teeny bikini, that is her choice, her right, and she should be empowered at every age to do so. If a woman wants to engage in any sexual activity that she chooses, she should feel free, feel safe, and be able to embrace her pleasure at all times.
It is our responsibility as women to raise each other up, to encourage each other, and to express ourselves how we choose. Without exception. I ask that all women rise up, start a conversation, and start a movement. I ask that you join me - join me in standing up for women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and experiences. Together we will build a world that demands that everyone: