In looking into the meaning behind the folktales of ‘vagina dentata’, they used the myth to prevent rape. As my project began with the investigation on the objectification of women, I thought this would be a perfect conclusion. In the year 2015-16 over 3000 calls were made to rape helplines, with 95 percent of the callers being female. Where age is known, 1,700 were aged 15 or under, an increase of 13% on last year; those aged under 25 represented 33% of service users. This is a problem that is increasing and people need to be educated on from a young age, as well as be reminded throughout their life.
- Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.
- Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year
- 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16
- Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police
- Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence
These figures come from An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, the first ever joint official statistics bulletin on sexual violence released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office in January 2013.
This has been a big influence on making my final decision to display my teeth fabrics along with my lip painting. It reflects upon the threat to castration, the glorified vagina, prostitution, pornography and now to send a message about the importance of rape prevention. There have been multiple influences in my work and I think my final decision shows each of them individually. I realise the sensitivity of my subject but that is what art is for, to shock and inform and that is exactly my intentions.
Information found at https://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php
- Two large scale paintings together.
This represents what was mentioned in my last post with the question of why. I do however have a large wall space, these two paintings not filling much of the space. The large scale adds a shock factor to the glorified vagina.
- Four fabric prints. Velvet, leather, cotton, silk.
Focusing more on vagina dentata and the big influence from the red light district. The fabrics relate to sensuality, so although a similar message to the last pieces, this one is less threatening as it is more subtle.
- Print from linocut and lipstick/vagina lipstick with mirrors.
Much more abstract and subtle that the other two options, focusing on vagina lipstick and leaving more to the imagination.
- A Mixture of works.
Aesthetically pleasing and lots going on, but I think these mixed options are a little distracting as there is not really a message of anything.
From the very start of my blog prostitution and porn have been big aspects in my research as well as using myself. Another important aspect is the interpretation of the viewer and leaving aspects to their imagination. The lips were chosen after reading Andrea Dworkin’s Men Possessing Women to represent a vagina as well as reflect on male fetishes to lips. This theme then continued looking into lip colours and lipsticks which there are many theories into such as reflecting the colour of vagina lips, to be empowering, to be more attractive and in the past used for prostitutes to separate themselves from other women. After a visit to the red light district I was drawn to sticking to a theme of red to be more recognisable in relation to the subject. As throughout this project I have been questioning why it reflects in my work and back to the viewers imagination they then question why lips? why are they on the side? Why teeth? Why is there no teeth? and that is exactly what I want because that then leads them to assume what the work is about without any additional information given to them.
“For much of the feminist art that has been labelled ‘erotic’ because it depicts or alludes to genital images is nothing of the sort. It is designed to arouse women, but not sexually. Hannah Will, Deborah Remington and Judy Chicago all make vaginal or womb related work. What is interesting about them is the manner in which they worship – fully allude to female genitalia as icons – as strong, clean, well made and whole as the masculine totems to which we are accustomed. Although there are many catagories of women’s erotic art, the most novel are those that glorify vaginas.” (Robinson.H, 2001, p576)
“The ‘lack’, ‘atrophy’ (of the sexual organ), and ‘penis envy’, the penis being the only sexual organ of recognised value… Her sexual organ represents the horror of nothing to see. A defect in the systematics of representation and desire. A ‘hole’ in its scophophilic lens. It is already evident in Greek statuary that this nothing-to-see has to be excluded, rejected, from such a scene of representation. Women’s genitals are simply absent, masked, sewn back up inside their ‘crack.’ (Robinson.H, 2001, p582)
Two strong statements that reflected my work. Strong, from the scale, clean, in the way that it is painted and well made in what it represents. The glorified vagina only threatens the male because it represents nothing. However I feel as though the vagina is as much of a sacred object as the penis and it represents so much more than nothing. Making work that represents this glorified vagina is to appreciate the solidarity of it. It is not nothing, it is something that should be greatly appreciated by the male, not be seen as an object for use or nothing, or even as a threat because it represents a ‘lack of penis’. Women in themselves should be seen as an equal to the male and unfortunately a lot of sexism still goes on, just as the vagina is of equal power to the penis. Another reason again that feminist artists make the glorified vagina is to represent it in a more positive way that it has and still is being represented, it adds a shock factor as it is not what the viewer expects to see.
Robinson, H. (2001) Feminism-art-theory; an anthology 1968-2000.