Last Day/Opening night

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.


What Salon got so incredibly backwards about Anal Sex recently posted a piece by Marilyn Friedman called How Anal Sex Ruined My Relationship. I read it (via Alternet who reposted it) because I was expecting a liberal, thought provoking, nuanced approach to modern relationships and what the implications are for opening your brown eye. What I got was the same rehashed trite bullshit about anal that we’ve been saying for decades.

The protagonist/author, Marilyn, begins as a 26 year old so desperate to get married she’ll do anything to trick a man into dating her, by following the advice of her well maintained, blonde,  big-butted sister (whom she describes as a gold digger), and then continues to do anything to keep said man. Marilyn ends up as someone who finds love and marriage (thank god!) with someone she doesn’t have to change for or, gasp, do anal with.

Listen, most women who engage in sex with men will, at some point, likely be propositioned with anal sex. Those who do it aren’t immoral sluts who will never keep a man thanks to their dirty dirty assholes, as Friedman would have us believe. They’re women who like anal, or like trying new things or are willing to try something to please a partner (because give and take are part of relationships). Those who choose not to engage in anal sex aren’t better or more deserving, they’re just people who chose not to and that’s fine too.

But all the fucking moralizing about anal and dating that Friedman shoves into this piece would have you thinking the exact opposite. She paints herself as an eager beaver who will completely change herself or go against her instincts for a man. While she luckily learns to snap out of it eventually (good), consenting to anal freely and without coercion is not the same as dropping a load of money because you’re so desperate to impress a man.

The whole thing stunk of sex negativity and an idea that any woman who engages in anal is only doing it to keep her man pleased, when everyone knows (according to Friedman) that he doesn’t give you a ring after you give him your O-ring.

I expected better from you, Salon. And certainly better from you, Alternet.

And for fucks sake, if you’re going to have anal sex, clean out your fucking asshole. Your shit literally ruined that relationship.