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.

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BILL COSBY, CONSENT, AND THE BODY

This piece originally appeared at The Radical Notion (Aug 6, 2015) Starting this month, I am a regular contributor to TRN, check it out on Facebook and Twitter for the latest. 

Recently, The New York Times ran a story covering Bill Cosby and the deposition he gave in 2005. The deposition was part of his defense against a young woman, Andrea Constand, who was suing him on grounds he had drugged and molested her. Cosby’s language in the deposition (or at least the parts The Times chose to publish) makes him sound like a man who has thoroughly “othered” women. Based on his statements, it becomes clear that he views women not as fully developed people but as simplistic children (“Mr. Cosby said he tended to refrain from intercourse because he did not want women to fall in love with him.”) unsure of what they want, and it was his job to guide them in their lives and into his bed. The Times described him as a “cavalier playboy.”

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History of the Sex Positive Movement

This piece originally appeared in the No Experience Newsletter Issue #277 (Aug 3, 2015) Starting this month I am the sex columnist for No Experience with a new column out every Monday. To subscribe and get it in your inbox 3 times a week send your email address to noexperiencenewsletter [at] gmail [dot] com. If you have a sex question you want answered in an upcoming issue, email me at rachels1088 [at] gmail [dot] com.  

As we move towards a greater understanding of the fluidity and spectra of sex, sexuality and gender, the term “sex-positive” can be heard in nearly all conversations about these topics. But sex-positivity and sex-positive feminism are not new concepts, and they didn’t emerge without difficulty.

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Legz!

Last weekend I went to an honest to god park. I overheard a woman say people aren’t being cynical enough. I ran into 4 people I know. It’s like cavemen being unearthed from the ice. Let’s face it people: Spring is Here.

And this is a good thing. Winter was fucking awful this year. Like, just terrible. Everyone’s Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) got cranked up to 11. Maudlin, morose, melancholy. These are all words I would use to describe every single fucking awful day of 2015 until last week when the skies parted and warmth rained down.

That first warm weekend took me by surprise and after making last minute plans for drinks I stood in front of my closet scanned my clothes and asked myself the eternal question: what do I wear? As miserable as winter had been at least then the answer to that question had been relatively easy. Wear as many layers as humanly possible. But that would not fly on this lovely 70 degree day.

I looked at a white cotton dress (versatile enough to get to stay in my closet all year, can easily be used in fall and milder parts of the winter) and felt the soft fabric between my finger tips. I took it out of the closet and held it against my body for inspection in front of the full length mirror. It was then that I realized I hadn’t shaved my legs, and wouldn’t have time before the drinking was meant to commence. So I asked myself the same question I always ask when winter turns to spring: Do I shave this year? Continue reading

I’m having a hard time forgiving Patricia Arquette.

Patricia Arquette at the Oscars
Patricia Arquette accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 87th Annual Academy awards on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015.

Last night Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. The film itself was beyond reproach. A triumph of modern filmmaking. Arquette did a masterful job and her award was much deserved. She’d prepared ahead, reading a pre-written speech. After the general thank yous and a plug for her charity, she said,

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Which is terrific. It’s elegant and eloquent. Short, succinct and accurate. She played it well, not calling anyone out or blaming anyone in particular but asking everyone to fight. In a dreary awards show that celebrates the exact same kinds of people saying more or less the same things year after year, this was brilliant and lovely. Unquestionably one of the evenings highlights. It even prompted this reaction, which was tailor made for the pop-feminists of the internet:

Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez reacting to Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech at the Oscars on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

But, sadly, it of course did not end there. After leaving the stage she was swept off to answer reporters questions in front of a step-and-repeat where she said:

“It’s inexcusable that we go around the world talking about equal rights for women around the country and we don’t have equal rights for women in America. When they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t intend for us to be equal. It’s time for all the women, all the men who love women, all the gay people and people of color, who we fought for equal rights for, to fight for us.”

Oh, Patricia…

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Chick Flix

I think when it comes to the Bechdel Test I am more bothered by movies that fail on the final stage. IE there are two or more female characters with names and they talk to each other, but only about men. I think not every movie needs to be about women, men have issues and experiences that can entertain us, and while the culture certainly has been biased towards them I think there are still stories to be told. But what bothers me are movies that are ostensibly about women (rom-coms, chick flicks etc) but are really about men because that’s all these women talk about.

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