Despite my white skin and blue eyes, as a Jew I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my whiteness. This is true now more than ever. My people have suffered at the hands of xenophobes and bigots for as long as we’ve been around. My great-grandparents survived the pogroms of Europe only to arrive in the US and be told they’re not welcome here. They were denied jobs, housing and basic human decency. They were relegated in ghettos here to match the ones they left behind in Europe. They did not (and I still do not) enjoy many of the privileges that white Christian Americans have been afforded. But they stayed and here I am.
Last weekend, I went to 2 sex positive feminist art shows (a successful Saturday to day the least). Both shows concentrated on the reclamation of the female body, and also unapologetically focused on sex and all the different things that can mean, including styles of kink. What was most fascinating though was that despite all this they could not have been more different.
The first was actually a remounting of a show originally held at David Zwirner gallery in 1993, COMING TO POWER: 25 Years Of Sexually X-Plicit Art By Women at Maccarone gallery in the West Village. Maccarone gallery is tucked inside the first floor of an unassuming building on Greenwich St and looks like s typical gallery: large empty space with monochrome walls. The art was fantastic. Incredible pieces by vitally important artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Annie Sprinkle and Hannah Wilke (among other) who radically changed the landscape of visual art, not to mention fighting for a space for women within art. It was moving and informative.
The second was Fatter IRL: A Fat Art show, held (along with several other shows) in an actual former Pfizer factory in East Williamsburg. But for the helpful signs posted out front, you’d never guess the building would contain an art show. The art was displayed in side rooms beside genuine industrial machinery. All the artists were lesser known but still incredibly gifted. Here is the new face of both feminism and art in the age of social media.
The first difference I noticed is that, with few exception, nearly all of the artists in the Maccarone show were white and cisgendered and many were also straight while nearly all the artists at Pfizer were queer and/or POC. While it’s always been important to open up the art world for women, (something that’s still a struggle) it is also necessary to create an equal amount of space for folks who fall somewhere else on the gender spectrum. Not to mention the obvious need for LGBTQ and non-white voices. This show definitely had that.
Secondly, I stopped to consider how I came across these shows. While at the Air BnB where some friends of my parter had been staying while in the city from Europe, I happened across the most recent edition of TimeOut NY. I only saw the review of Coming to Power because I was flipping through the magazine. Meanwhile, I saw event notifications for Fatter IRL all over my Facebook wall and was intrigued enough to go.
It was symbolic, almost, that today was the last day for Coming to Power and simultaneously the opening night for Fatter IRL. It felt as if the door was closing on second wave feminism, while still celebrating those women for the great strides they’d made both in feminism as a whole and in the art world, and opening the door for this next generation of women and non-binary artists. I’m genuinely thrilled to have been able to see both in one day and experience the metaphorical passing of the torch. I hope to one day see a 25th anniversary retrospective of Fatter IRL, only to then attend the opening night party for whatever the next phase will be.
Now, after reading that title, please don’t tell me there are no laws in the USA, federal, state or local that ban African-Americans from existing. I know that’s the case. I know Barack Obama is black, and I know he was elected president. But when one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime and police are routinely killing unarmed black men at the same rate they’re killing armed black men, I have to come to the conclusion that yes, it’s illegal to be black in this country; and it’s a crime often punishable by death.
Before he was murdered by law enforcement, (and left to rot in the August sun) Michael Brown surrendered to police. It is illegal to be black in the country.
The executions of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Walter Scott and thousands of others (Over 100 in the first half of 2016 alone) make it clear that it is illegal to be black in this country.
And now we add Alton Sterling’s name to that list. Killed while being pinned to the ground by officers. It is illegal to be black in this country.
It goes without saying (I hope) that this situation is disgusting, deplorable, and needs to be remedied. But it hasn’t. After all those people and all that outrage it still hasn’t. It still keeps happening. We haven’t changed anything, we haven’t fixed anything.
I’m white, and I am cloaked by the warmth of my white privilege, of knowing well into adulthood that a cop is always your friend. But I have black friends. I don’t make this statement to give myself credence or validity, I say it because I am scared for them. I know they face a very different threat, a very different terror, than I do. I know there’s a chance I may wake up tomorrow to read their names on the news, to see their side by side photos (happy and smiling along side bloody and broken) splashed on the front page of the papers, to hear strangers chant their names at protests, to add them to a list of victims in what feels like an un-winable, neverending war.
They, like those before them, could be killed by the very people we’ve asked to protect us, by the very people who protect me, because I am not black. Because I somehow deserve this protection that they don’t have access to because of the color of my skin. Because it is illegal to be black in this country.
Just got my check from Jury Duty!
I got a tetanus shot today!
When walking in Chinatown yesterday I felt something in my shoe, like a tiny rock or shard of glass. I tried to push it to the side, or ignore it until I got home but after about 20 minutes I Just couldn’t stand it any more. Turns out a staple had poked through the sole of my shoe. And not a regular office staple, it was industrial sized and my toe was bleeding. I limped home and this morning made my way to an urgent care clinic a few blocks from my apartment.
Some things I learned about tetanus while frantically googling:
- It has a 72 hour incubation period
- You should get a booster shot every 10 years (so I’m set til 2026!)
- If you may have been exposed and you haven’t had the shot in 10 years you should try to get it within 24 hours
The clinic I went to was surprisingly great. It was clean and everyone was super nice. I was the only one there so my visit went incredibly quickly.
There’s been another celebrity nude photo scandal, this time it’s Justin Bieber who has been photographed au natural by the paps in while vacationing with his lady friend (Jayde Pierce) in Bora Bora. Pretty much the exact moment the photos hit the internet every single blog and magazine told me not to look at them. (Too little too late though ‘cause lil’ perv that I am, I clicked the very first link to the photos I saw.) These well meaning sites likened the Bieber Leak to last year’s “Fappening” when nearly 500 photos of female celebs, many of them entirely or partially nude, hit the web after a massive data breach. If we got so up in arms about those photos (as we should have, because it was gross and disturbing), they argue, it is hypocritical to peek and the Biebz. This, however, is not the case. It’s apples and oranges. While what happened to Bieber was unquestionably wrong, it’s not the same as last year’s photo leak, and equating the two does a disservice to all the victims.
Summer is winding down and colleges and universities are swelling with the nubile young flesh of their student populations. If you’re among the privileged who have been accepted into an institution of higher learning, congratulations. If this is your freshman year (or “first year” as my tiny liberal arts college put it) I can pretty much guarantee part of your orientation week will involve a kind of truncated sex ed/how not to get raped session. I giggled through mine mostly because it was fucking ridiculous, victim-blaming and not helpful.
College is nothing like high school (or adulthood). You’ll be given a ton of freedom and you’ll be surrounded by people your own age almost exclusively, 24 hours a day. You’ll go to class, join a club, go to parties and have sex. Probably a lot of sex. You’ll hook up and have casual sex. There will be one night stands and friends with benefits and fuck buddies and relationships. You’ll try to navigate this strange new social structure (often awkwardly). People are going to try to have sex with you and you’re going to try to have sex with other people. Sometimes you’ll be successful (and sometimes you won’t).
I’m here to tell you how to have safe sex on campus in a sex positive, non-shaming kind of way: