I Didn’t Ask For This: A Life Time of Dick Pics ft. Shirley Manson

This is a mental health blog, and I rarely speak about my personal life unless it regards to my experiences to it. This week’s post is going to veer away from the norm because I’m excited to write about a Think Tank Gallery event I attended that was curated by the ever so lovely writer and intersectional feminist Whitney Bell! The gallery was appropriately titled I Didn’t Ask for This: A Life Time of Dick Pics ft. Shirley Manson of Garbage fame. Whitney Bell was inspired to create her show after she received “a dick pic so beautiful that it should be in a museum.” The show addresses her exhaustion with the constant harassment that females are expected to endure. The objective is to not shame the penis or to shame individual men—but to expose the normalization of misogyny in society.

At the show, I attended three panels that regarded Intersectional Feminism, Harassment in the Digital Age, and Feminism in Pornography. I also attended an oral sex workshop conducted by sex educator and consultant Anne Hodder.

I could write pages and pages on what I learned from panels and it still wouldn’t be comprehensive, but I’ll make points that I found significant and thoughtful.

Intersectionality Feminism Panel

At this panel, writer, trans activist, and cancer survivor Ericka Hart said a comment that made me think.  She expressed that she doesn’t see herself as a feminist. I paused when she said that because I was like hmmm….I mean this is a panel about feminism how does she not see herself as a feminist? Then she continued saying how the feminist movement has been white-washed from the beginning and how the issues it was pursuing were issues that mainly affected cisgender, well-off, abled white women rather than non-cisgender, women of color, women with disabilities, and women living in poverty. Ashlee Marie Preston, trans-activist and writer, added to the sentiment that the feminist movement is “transphobic as fuck.”  It shifted my perspective because I now was able to see why females, especially ones who are liberal, don’t identify being as being feminist. As much as the core of feminism is “equality,” the movement itself has recently expanded its reach to LGBTQ and women of color. I also reflected why conservative women don’t see themselves as feminist. As much as I shit on gender roles, gender roles take out the guesswork on a person’s role in society. Women stay at home, take care of the children, and do housework. Men work and financially take care of the family. Shifting gender roles can be scary for women who have been accustomed to a certain role for such a long time. Also, change sucks and is uncomfortable.

Digital Harassment Panel

I studied cyber-stalking in my college class entitled the Dark Side of Communication, and I was amazed that the subject came again up again. One the biggest concepts I received from the panel was that in the digital world, no matter how dependent society is on the internet, the internet is still treated as “unreal” in comparison to the outside world. This makes it difficult to prosecute cyber-stalking or even have a restraining order against someone because there isn’t a digital address. Also, it made me realize that the internet is perceived to have no boundaries because it is not a personal interaction and that he or she is able to be anonymous when stalking.

 Feminism and Pornography

This was the most surprising panel that I attended. A few surprising tidbits that I learned was that the adult entertainment industry is racist and transphobic. The panelists expressed that if a porn actor had sex with a trans actor, they would be blacklisted. It wasn’t until adult actress Jessica Drake had sex with a trans actor, did it become acceptable. There was another case where one of the panelists, adult actress, Ana Foxx, told a story where she wore traditional African garb and her natural hair to the AVN awards, and the network broadcasting the awards’ show, Showtime, cut her part. Another shift in perspective that I enjoyed was when one of the panelists, Anna del Gaizo, an editor for Playboy, mentioned that objectification often gets a bad rap. If an individual is aware they are going to be objectified and they are okay with it, then it’s not bad.  Another tidbit was that it amazed that since sex is non-taboo in the adult industry, the people who work in the industry are super aware consent and careful with how they are around others.

Even though many of the concepts and ideas were not new to me at the gallery, it changed my thinking in certain ways in regards to sex, consent, and boundaries, which is positive.