Virgins, Sluts, & Other Social Constructs

Get down with the dismantling of social constructs like virgins and sluts surrounding female sexuality by first learning about their complexities and implications.

Some noteworthy stats on sex-education in the states: 

  • When provided, sex education must stress abstinence in 25 states.
  • Only states require that sex/HIV education cannot promote religion.
  • When provided, sex education must include information on the importance of sex only within marriage in 19 states. 

Additional notes on the acknowledgement of the female orgasm:  

Female masturbation can be traced back to the 19th century when an "epidemic of hysteria" supposedly overtook the female population in Western Europe. Symptoms included insomnia, faintness, sudden outbursts, sexual desires, erotic fantasies, and excessive vaginal lubrication (women who like sex? the horror!), and a "tendency to cause trouble". The cure to such a disease? "Hysterial paroxysm". In other words - an orgasm! Doctors were quite exasperated by the tiresome responsibilities of inducing so many orgasms that they became creative with their methods and technologies... Hence, the invention of the vibrator.

1/3 of adult women own a vibrator today. However until this year, anti obscenity laws existed in the south, making the commercial sale of sex toys illegal. Laws like these that shame the idea of women achieving orgasm without the help of a partner perpetuate the stigma that masturbation is harmful to girls and women. Framing masturbation in such a light won't stop all women from masturbating, but will instead cause them to feel shameful and isolated in society for indulging in something that feels oh, so good.  

Sex: Representation, Education, and Masturbation

Gender equality cannot exist if it doesn't begin in the most intimate of settings: the bedroom.

Join Dr. Tanya Bakhmetyeva, professor of Sex & Power, Dr. Marie-Joelle Estrada, Professor of Psychology of Gender, and three student speakers -Anna Erwin, Amelia Keller, and myself- at the University of Rochester on November 15th from 5:00-6:30 PM. Discussion topics will include: the purity myth, female masturbation, locker room talk, women in the media, inequalities in the bedroom, and others.

Light refreshments including coffee, tea, and cider will be served. University Health Services will be present at the event with information pamphlets and birth control for all interested attendees.

Facebook event here.

That's So Yesterday

Make this world a better, more equal, and safer place by letting go of double standards that revolve around female sexuality. Teach girls that their sex lives are not indicative of their moral compass, that their worth is not defined by their virginity, and that consensual sex can and should be a pleasurable experience for all parties involved. Be sex positive by teaching girls (and boys) that our bodies and sexuality are our own and nobody else's to regulate, by respecting others and their choices, and by respecting yourself.

Little Edie: From Riches To Rags And The Style In Between

Historically overshadowed by their more famous kin, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, socialites Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother (more famously known as "Little Edie" and "Big Edie", respectively) lived a beautifully gilded life... until they didn't. The Beales spent their summers in a gorgeous Hamptons mansion, dubbed Grey Gardens, entertaining family and friends with their eccentric personalities and charming living-room performances. Singing and dancing was a favorite way of communication between the mother-daughter pair; the classic Broadway number "Tea for Two" echoed within the walls of the posh mansion that would eventually become a national scandal and a disturbing vision. A crippling economy, the death of Big Edie's father in 1948, and her absent husband left the Beale girls with a measly sum of $65,000 to maintain their lavish lifestyle for the next couple decades. Despite Little Edie's hopeful dreams of modeling and performing, she was drawn back to her mother and the crippling codependency they shared time after time, eventually finding herself framed against the haunting image of Grey Gardens left in shambles. Wandering cats, raccoons, animal and human feces, human-sized piles of liter, newspaper, broken fixtures, and the absence of heat and electricity were amongst the living conditions in which the women resided for years. 

Photograph by Tom Wargacki

The Beales made headlines following a forced inspection by county officials in 1971. These headlines reached the eyes and ears of first cousin Jackie O' who intervened and funded the restoration of Grey Gardens. National attention would lead to a documentary starring Little Edie and Big Edie and a more recent film featuring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Both works capture the resilient spirits and nostalgic hearts of the women, as well as Little Edie's timeless style. Colorful head scarves, a fur coat, and a famous gold brooch were staples in Little Edie's closet that were featured in many of what Little Edie called her "costume of the day". Little Edie was an elegant spectacle walking around an eroding home of shocking filth, reminding us that unlike material riches, style is forever. Shop Little Edie's style below.

Artist Profile: Amelia Keller

Being exposed to fashion advertisements as a teenager affected my self perception greatly...
— AK

Currently studying Human-Computer Interaction at Rochester Institute of Technology, New York native Amelia Keller is not unfamiliar with the extensive dialog between the digital world and human life. Digitally scanning magazine photographs of couture models and erotic subjects, Amelia creates images that are intensely warped and vibrating with color. By manipulating images that have already been highly processed and edited into distorted forms, Amelia spotlights a falsified representation of the female body as it is portrayed in today's digital age.  Sultry snapshots of painted lips, naked breasts, and stylized female subjects are twisted - sometimes made unrecognizable - into captivating artwork that is seductive, sophisticated, and smart all at once. 

Q & A

What do you create? I create digital scans from fashion and pornographic magazines, such as Playboy and Lui (French).

What mediums do you use and which is your favorite? I use mostly digital mediums, however, I do like to paint and draw.

When did you discover your current artistic style? A couple of summers ago, I had an internship at a fashion advertising company. My sole task was to scan advertisements all day for their archives. I became really restless with the mundane work and purposely moved the magazines around on the scanner.

What is the first piece of art you remember being proud of? A bug I drew when I was 4.

What does your creative process sound like? I would describe my work as psychedelic, so Tame impala. Their newest album Currents is great. Also, the album cover by designer Robert Beatty reminds me of my work.

Where do your ideas come from? During college, I worked for fashion companies during the summer. I am drawn to this world due to the glamorous and seductive nature of the industry. Being exposed to fashion advertisements as a teenager affected my self perception greatly. I like to distort the images of women just as they have been in photo editing software.

What is something you’re looking forward to creating? Eventually I want to start a women’s silk fashion line with my scans as the prints. I think it would be ironic for women to wear the glitched fashion advertisements.

What are your greatest artistic influences? Pipilotti rist, Marilyn Minter, Sara Cwynar, Slim Aarons, Joe Reihsen.

Where do you look when you are feeling uninspired? Museums. My favorites are the Whitney, New Museum, and Moma PS.1.

I love it when people: make eye contact during a conversation.

Who is your style icon? Delilah Summer Parillo. My girl crush. I like her simple style and bleached blonde hair. Also, Mimi Elashiry.  

The first thing I do when I wake up is: meditate and try not to drink coffee.

What historical event would you like to have been present for? Woodstock. I watched a documentary about the festival and it looked like a great time.

I could probably live without: my iPhone, it’s too enticing.

What do you disagree with? Motorcycles.

What do you believe in? Unicorns.  

Artist Profile: Daniel Hargrove

Before this point I’d say I mostly just copied other people’s stuff and used tracing paper. Nothing was original to me, it was all just for fun. But one summer, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my dad, and saw this wonderful painting...
— DH

Inspired by iconic cartoonists and figurative painters such as Ralph Steadman and Egon Schiele, Jersey native Dan Hargrove is on his way to iconic successes of his own. With vibrant india ink and Prismacolor markers, Dan's subjects are born through an exploration of geometric detail and intricate coloring. In each of his creations, Dan tells a story set in a surreal world, complete with pipe-smoking cats and couples dancing under purple skies on landscapes with open eyes. Life is rich on Dan's paper. His cartoon-like illustrations and "pop-out" style collages are anything but simple and never monotonous, despite a ritualistic creative process consisting of playing "Where Is My Mind?" by the Pixies on repeat. To experience his work is dream-like and entirely stimulating. How does one's mind contain so many stories and know so many people that are waiting to come to life under his master's pen?

Q & A

What do you create? Yes.

What mediums do you use and which is your favorite? I’ve played around with a lot, but mostly stick to a combination of  india inks, prismacolor markers and watercolors. I prefer to use thick paper because I put it through a beating. Quill pens with india ink are my favorite medium due to the precision and permanent quality of the lines.

When did you discover your current artistic style? I think most of the “style” is a result of me trying to compensate for a lack of formal artistic training. I guess one characteristic of my stuff is that it’s super detailed. The only reason for that is I struggle to color large sections of a paper evenly. I make sure to fill in all spaces with detail so I can avoid having to do this. I make bodies and faces distorted and colorful because it’s easier than making them realistic. I wouldn’t say I ever discovered my style because it’s all I’ve ever known.

What is the first piece of art you remember being proud of? I made this drawing called “Celebration” during the summer of  2011. It’s nothing special, just a bunch of people drinking in a fancy room all dressed in colorful clothing. Before this point I’d say I mostly just copied other people’s stuff and used tracing paper. Nothing was original to me, it was all just for fun. But one afternoon, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my dad, and saw this wonderful painting that left an impact on me. I have no idea who the artist was but to this day I can remember the image vividly. That night I rushed home and started working for hours on end, day after day. I think I stayed up all night. Haha. I’d never really felt that way before and that was definitely the first time I was proud of something “I” made.

What does your creative process sound like? This is gonna sound pretty weird but it’s what I’ve done for years. You know the song Where is My Mind? by the Pixies; it’s that song at the end of the movie Fight Club. Well . . . I listen to different covers (Trampled by Turtles and Maxence Cyrin) of that song on repeat for hours on end. I must have heard it thousands of times by now.  I don’t know why, but it puts me in a trance like state. It’s mind numbing and rather meditative. 

Where do your ideas come from? This is rather tricky to answer. It honestly depends on what I’m making at the time. Certain ideas I can link to personal emotions and experiences. There is a specific event behind most what I make. Other ideas stem from the people I surround myself with, they play a big role as well. There are a ton of strange and interesting people in my life that influence me. I hold them close and value them immensely in ways they may not be aware of. People’s perspectives have always been of great interest to me and I think that’s where the power behind the ideas come from. History, literature, current events are also obvious contributors but not necessarily to the focus.

What is something you’re looking forward to creating? One thing I am certain of is that I look forward to drawing girls. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. For the life of me I can’t draw girls without her looking like a guys.  I’m tired of making dudes. Other than that, I have a lot of ideas for things I want to make, but they never follow exactly to form, so we’ll see. In the future I’m trying to transition to larger work, and perhaps installation art.  This is  something I’m interested in pursuing but haven’t explored it because I lack the space to do so.

What are your greatest artistic influences? These artists immediately come to mind; Egon Schiele, William Steig, Ralph Steadman, Diego Rivera and Hergé. I think their influence overlaps in almost everything I do. Overall I’d say Russian Futurism and German Expressionism are really what strive to learn from.

Where is your mind from? Where does it go? I’m a dreamer and a realist; definitely a product of my parents who are both lawyers yet so much more. I’d like to think my mind goes wherever I go, but I can’t prove that.

Where do you look when you are feeling uninspired? At times I read or listen to music hoping something will trigger an idea. If I’m really struggling to  find inspiration after hours spent with a blank piece of paper, I often turn to other forms of creating by writing poetry and short stories. I go to the Art and Music Library (at the University of Rochester). That library has little to no cell service and no one is ever in the reading stacks, so it is a nice place to isolate myself. But if none of this works it can get really frustrating. I try not to dwell too much on the process because whenever I force myself to make something I’m not passionate about I never really like the end result. But when I do find that feeling of inspiration, I do my damnedest to hold onto it.

Tell me about a love-hate relationship (with anything) in your life. I’m an ambivert; meaning both an introvert and an extrovert depending on the time. People often misread me, and it can be straining trying to keep up with appearances. I do my best to stay consistent, but it’s hard to explain my mindset to others. I beat myself up a lot when I come off as shy or struggle to converse, but I don’t think I’d be as artistic if I didn’t have this component of my personality. So I really wouldn’t change a thing.

What do you see when you close your eyes? I see blackness, but sometimes if I look up at a light I can see orange too. Kewl stuff.

What current event scares you? There are many events to be worried about, but we are living in the most exciting and progressive time in human history; so it comes with the territory. I think what scares me the most are trends in human interaction rather than individual events. Judging from experience, I think I spend as much time interacting with a screen as I do people. I’m sure many others do as well. I make sure to utilize this to try and understand other’s perspectives, or at least I think I do. But this isn’t the case for everyone.  The internet is a fantastic tool to expand one’s perception, but in many ways it does just as much to box us in and isolate individuals. People find sources/communities online that reinforce and justify their ideology because it is comforting and easy. There’s this quote that sort of explains my feeling, “what concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are.” It seems these days like people are asking less and less questions and saying more and more. That’s what scares me.

Write the first sentence in the book about your life. He died happy.

What do you need to break up with? It may sound bad, but I need to care less for others. I can invest too much and lose myself at times.

What do you believe in? Reason and being wrong.