Saturday, August 31, 2013

Word Of The Day: Cliteracy

New York artist Sophia Wallace has a chip on her shoulder about society and mankind's illiteracy about the clitoris, and she decided to do something about it, just not he way Annie Sprinkle - whom I saw live at (the old) Club Soda in the mid-1990s - would have done it...

Instead of baring it all and equipping spectators with flashlights to facilitate exploration, Wallace ditched the facile/obvious/exploitation way of doing it (through performance) and instead built elaborate pieces, such as the street art panels 100 Laws of Cliteracy, sampled below:

"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.

From the Huffington Post:

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).
"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.

I also hope it becomes a meme, and chances are this installation, made with sculptor Kenneth Thomas, will help achieve that. I give you, Clit Rodeo:

She also goes one step further and ups the ante with a political stance:
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."

Now buy the shirt, join the cause, and by all means respect the clit enough to educate yourself on it.

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