Thinking Sex: Representing Desire and Difference
A Feminist and Gender Studies Course
Bryn Mawr College, Fall, 2002

Archive 19: More Sex in Art


Name:  Anne Dalke
Username:  adalke@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Change of Venue
Date:  2002-11-25 14:21:58
Message Id:  3880
Comments:
We have no reading assignments for tomorrow. The only assignment (from Jill, Chelsea, Nancy, Jenny and Nia) is for the class to meet in Pem West living room at 1:00 with an open mind.

Your posting assignment this week is to comment on what you've learned about "Sex in Art, Part II."

See you there/then--
Anne


Name:  Bea
Username:  blucaciu@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Pandora's Box
Date:  2002-11-25 14:59:44
Message Id:  3882
Comments:
Recently, a friend of mine asked me to read something written by someone her friend knew. After reading it, I asked if he would allow for me to share it with everyone. He agreed, but only if he would be credited under the pseudonym Courbet. During a conversation between him and his friend, he said, "I know that having a pseudonym seems pretentious, but I'd rather seem pretentious than be exposed." His friend asked, "Pun intended?" His reply, "Absolutely." :-) So, here it is:

------------------------------------
"Pandora"
It was beautiful. This...jewel of a thing, it sparkled and that almost made its shape indistinguishable. In her mind it was pulsating, alive in a sense...wanting to open up like a flower and give itself to the viewer. She felt a voyeuristic thrill watching it sitting still in the darkness. There was a glow of life within it that needed to be freed.
She reached out, half in fear, to touch it with a single fingernail, rake its side and half-feel its texture through the most inanimate part of her body. It was going to ride the keratin up onto the finger and into her, she knew that. A powerful attraction was welling up between her and the thing, and she could not move until it became what it had to. It had to expand, occupy her world.
She cupped it, feeling the locked energy within it, waiting to burst and surround her. Carefully, eagerly, Pandora slipped her thumbs into the centre, an almost black void, breaking the seal, opening the box.
Bells danced in her head and the cloying sweet treble of creation spewed into her mind, a rhythm of birth, light tingles of music, the primeval sound of the box, godlike.
The universe exploded in an instant, unleashing everything.
Pandora opened the box and created the world.
Saturated with that initial curiosity to open things.
bloodlust would come soon enough.
------------------------------------

So, there you have it. What kind of imagery does this conjure for each of you? The irony is that he had not meant for it to be at all sexual, and was surprised when his friends had remarked on just how sexual it appears to be.

Any thoughts?


Name:  Maggie
Username:  mscottwe
Subject:  not sexual?!
Date:  2002-11-25 20:22:57
Message Id:  3883
Comments:
He hadn't meant for it to be sexual? I assumed because of the title that it wasn't sexual, but I don't see how he could have written that and not noticed.
Listen to these words: pulsating, alive, wanting to open up like a flower, ride, up onto the finger and into her, a powerful attraction, welling up between her, it had to expand, she cupped it, waiting to burst and surround her, cloying sweet treble, a rhythm of birth...
To me, these words sound sexual, and they also conjure up extremely sexual images. Listening to those words, I hear sensuality as much as I imagine it, but it might be that the words are so permanently linked in my mind with sexual images/thoughts/activities that I can't help but make those associations with the sound of the word. Or maybe I'm just thinking about sex too much = ).
Name:  Maggie
Username:  mscottwe
Subject:  Decade Revisited
Date:  2002-11-25 22:58:52
Message Id:  3885
Comments:
Bea's message and my response had me thinking, and I remembered that one of the poems I originally posted is also pretty much a misinterpretation. It's not necessarily sexual, although since I read it that way the first time I read it I figured I could post it... Amy Lowell wrote Decade on the tenth anniversary that she and her partner were together. The first two lines are about the excitement and indulgence of new lovers, as well as (possibly) a more sexual interpretation. The last four lines are about their present relationship, explaining the comfort of old lovers. So while it may or may not have been written with the intent of being sexual, it certainly has a front of being very platonic. I know that when I first read it I definitely thought it was sexual. I reposted it so if anyone was interested, they wouldn't have to go searching for it in the archive.

Decade
When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.
~Amy Lowell


Name:  Iris Dickerson
Username:  idickers@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Pomegranate
Date:  2002-11-26 00:51:17
Message Id:  3887
Comments:
random thoughts:
i have always found fruits, especially pomegranates extremely sexual. i mentioned this to a group of my friends a couple of days ago and was surprised to discover that they could not understand why i would feel that way about a food. however after explaining to them my reasoning as best i could they deffinately agreed. another testamony of sexuality being put into language.

pomegranates arn't just sexual. they exibit female sexuality. first of all they're red. i don't know about you, but red is as sexy as a color (and colors are amazingly sexual) can get. it makes me think about passion, letting go of inhibitions, and deeply felt emotions. it also brings to mind the flush of sexually excited skin, swollen lips, tounges, and menstrual blood (a powerful feminine force weather you consider it sexual or not). secondly, they're a fruit. a plant's womb. jucy. sweet, and a little tart. you have to open the pomegranate up to discover it's treasure. the small, red, shiny jewels (as in the posted poem...we hear the word 'jewel' used frequently to discribe female genitalia) all puzzled together in the most amazing patterns. you have to work slowy to eat them...peeling back the thin layers to reach the seeds. and when you finally place a seed in your mouth it is smooth, taunt, then bursts with it's amazing juice...somewhere between a cranberry and a rasberry in taste. you can't eat one without being messy. you have to just dive in and dye your fingers red. mmmm...an amazing fruit. (too bad it's one in the morning and i can't run to the store to buy one ;-)


Name:  Sarah H.
Username:  shesson@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Pandora's Box
Date:  2002-11-26 01:51:05
Message Id:  3888
Comments:
Reading the poem posted about Pandora's Box, I think it is sexual because sexuality is linked closely with creativity, and the piece is about the creation of the world. Creation and life are associated strongly with the same words deemed sexual. Not to say that sexuality reproduces specifically a child, but I do think that it has its own creative energies that either awaken facets in people or cause them to grow in some way, or even to form a new connection with another person...all of these things seem creative. In another class I'm taking, we were talking about the ways in which relationships between two people in a specific book were always mediated by a third party...in one case, the third party seemed to be this entity that was born of their relationship. This just reminded me again of the way a relationship with another person can create a third completely new entity (again, not meaning specifically a child). Also, in the same way that Pandora opens a new world, it seems possible for a sexual relationship to open a world for the people in it or affected by it. So yes, sexual ties, but maybe the author saw them as creative and life-giving, rather than explicitly sexual. I would actually probably characterize the piece less as explicitly sexual and more as creative and life-giving. I don't think sexuality on the whole is consistent with the writing, but more those specific aforementioned characteristics that sexuality can but doesn't always possess... I think...
Name:  Deborah
Username:  dsosower@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  sexually orange
Date:  2002-11-26 14:50:58
Message Id:  3889
Comments:
peeling an orange:
I've never thought about peeling an orange as sexual before....until the context of sex and artisitic senses brought it out in me....feeling a place that is dark, exploring with my fingers, the juices begin to flow,the ripe flesh gives and quivers under the pads of my fingertips...the orange peel opens up, looking at it my thoughts repeat the words "center core"; the peel cups open,welcoming my embrace; its so satisfying to hear the sound of the peeling....So bright and orange on the outside, the pale shell-like shade of the inside is innocent and love and creamy and sex. The feel stays on my hands even after I have consumed its fleshy fruit.
Name:  Kathryn McMahon
Username:  superkatra@hotmail.com
Subject:  underwear, under where?
Date:  2002-11-26 16:09:36
Message Id:  3891
Comments:
First of all, I really enjoyed today's presenation. Yay, for sensuous, interactive art and creative projects about sex.
The piece of art in your lovely make-shift gallery that I chose to write about was the four depictions of people's torsos clad in different kinds of underwear. Maybe it's just because of the very short-term relationships that I tend to have, but it definitely felt representative of my sexuality and how I think about myself and sex. It evoked a sense of change: of partners, of sexuality and sexual expression, and of seduction and anticipation. I felt suspense just looking at it, like I was in a bedroom and waiting for someone's clothes to completely come off before things went any further. It felt exciting and new and playful. That's what I look for in sex.
Name:  Anne Dalke
Username:  adalke@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Final Instructions
Date:  2002-11-26 16:48:14
Message Id:  3893
Comments:
To the Thinking Sex class--

a few things to THINK about before/as you leave for Thanksgiving break:

When we return we will begin our presentations of sex ed curricula. Sarah H, HY, Maggie, Fritz, Nia will be the first to go, on Tuesday, Dec. 3rd; the rest of you should check the remainder of the schedule, updated on the course syllabus.

I'm expecting that, on your assigned day, each of you will take about fifteen minutes to present a "slice" of the curriculum you are preparing for your final (20pp. equivalent) project (the whole thing isn't due til Dec. 21st (check the syllabus for excruciating details about preparing your final portfolio). It's important to begin your presentation by explaining the parameters of your project: WHY are you doing WHAT you are doing, in the WAY you are doing it? What problems/issues/GAPS @ your site are you trying to address?

Sarah H had asked me for more guidance, but I am not willing to supply it (remember: I've never run this experiment before, and don't know what I'm looking for until I see what I get). Basically, the instructions are these:

--go somewhere you haven't been (i.e. your praxis site);
--learn to know the people there,
--figure out what they need (in terms of sex ed curricula, as broadly defined as need be);
--do the necessary research to fill the gap;
--and then create what is missing.

I very much look forward to seeing/hearing/experiencing your creations--
Til then,
Happy Thanksgiving,
Anne


Name:  Maggie
Username:  mscottwe
Subject:  response to sex in art II
Date:  2002-11-26 18:56:18
Message Id:  3894
Comments:
I thought the idea for today's class was excellent, especially using all five senses. However, I think that in general, it is hard for us to pay attention to the other senses when there is such a bombardment of visual stimuli around us. And even more so if the visuals depict naked people! Also, most art (I'm using a rather conservative and traditional definition of 'art' here) is meant to be appreciated visually. This is evident when you look at the objects brought in to affect our other senses: body lotion, perfume, sweaters, fruit...

I'm not saying that those things aren't sexual, but that they don't necessarily fit into the category of art (again, defined traditionally.) Which is similar to the problem that the sex in the media group had of excluding some things that were sexy, but not relevant to the 'media' aspect of their presentation. Is it problematic to categorize sex into different segments of culture/society to learn about it? It seems inevitable that the categories will spill over each other and some things that may seem relevant will have to be left out.


Name:  nance
Username:  nevans@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Can you "feel" like art?
Date:  2002-11-26 19:41:53
Message Id:  3895
Comments:
First of all, I hope everyone enjoyed our Sex and Art gallery today! I know there was a lot going on and a few distractions in the background, but I think we stumbled (or perhaps we led ourselves) to an interesting idea-- art becomes art based on the context. I think maybe art isn't so tangible as we think, in definition anyway. A painting sitting undiscovered isn't art, no one appreciates it or even knows about it. BUT, me sitting in a makeshirt 'gallery' on a couch in red underwear is art? I think so. Art, to me, has become something that is created because and out of the idea that someone appreciates it in the appropriate setting. This isn't to say that anything can't be art, I think it can be something different to each person. Art, as of today, to me is not the painting or the fruit, but a gaze, the way you choose to look at it. We think of traditional 'art' as art because we are accustomed to thinking that way in museums and galleries. I don't really have any sort of conclusion to these thoughts...yet. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Name:  Jess T.
Username:  jtucker@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Sex and Art...
Date:  2002-11-27 14:51:19
Message Id:  3900
Comments:
After are first class on sex and art, I was a little dissatisfied. I thought I'd wait to see how the second one went before I made any comments. But things still didn't really click for me.

I'm trying to figure it out, and I guess the best way I can put it is... where was the sex? Yes there were tons of things that had sex in them, but so much of art is about the experience (experiencing something as art). And I really don't feel like most of the stuff presented to us in class dealt with art as a sexual experience.

For example: the music from the first class. I realize that a song like "No Sex in the Champagne Room" is a song that conceptually deals with sex, but is the song sexual? Not really... it's comedic. Lyrics are very important in terms of music, but there is a lot more than just lyrics that goes into making a song. I have an entire file of music called "Orgasm music" and a small portion of the song's lyrics directly refer to sex. Some are romantic love songs, some are depressing, some are about addiction, and some songs were played on the soundtrack of Cruel Intentions when Ryan Philippe was looking extremely sexy in that bright blue silk shirt coming up the escalator. --- The songs are very diverse and the reasons why those songs are orgasm music are very diverse. Some of it has to do with the lyrics, but a lot of is has to do with the tempo, beat, sounds, voice of the artist, and the vision the music evokes. Most of all it all has to do with my response to the music--- my experience.

The Friday after the first Sex and Art class, I had the absolute joy to go to the Tori Amos concert in Camden. At the concert, I couldn't help, but feel like I was experience so much sex in art that hadn't been present in our class. Tori has songs that deal with very sexual topics including "Leather" which was on Deb's CDs, but the sex in the experience was soooo much more that just the songs that dealt with sexual topics. Watching Tori perform, it seems in many ways that the performance is very sexual. (More so with some songs that others.) There was something very sexual about the way her body withered and pulsated with the music as she strattled the piano bench, with her arms extended between two pianos. In these moments it was as if the music flowed through her, out of her. It was the beat, the sounds, her body that was sexual... not the lyrics.

To me it seems that the concert was pure sex: two hours of orgasm music.

Also Tori talked about playing music w/ other musicians as a sexual experience. When she was introducing the drum and base player, she talked about how when you play with some people (and she used hand motions to express this) it was like losing a hard-on. But with these guys that was no problem.

It seems to me that we've lost so much in our discussion of sex and music and even more in sex and art. ---- I was encouraged by Jenny's comments in the second sex in art class on the article on Jazz music and sex, but those comments seemed very brief and it just seemed that we went right back to art that has images of sex, but that is not (for the most part) sexual.

Another thought I this--- is I was very frustrated in class Tuesday looking at the art, because I didn't feel like most of it was really sexual. (The food was probably the most sexual. But that had more to do with how people we eating it.) There were a lot of naked bodies, but is the naked human form sex? Is it sex in art?

Today I was watching the German film, Der Krieger und Die Kaiserin (eng title: The Princess and the Warrior) and during a scene I was watching I felt like if the Sex and Art people found a snappie of it they might have put it up as sex in art, even though the scene really had nothing to do with sex. In the scene a man (the Warrior... who is pretty troubled character) comes nude out of the shower, to see a woman illuminated in the corner of the dark room. The man, Bodo, asks were his brother is and gets no response from the women. He goes up to her and kneels before her. Eventually, distraught, he puts his head in her lap and wraps his arms around her. The camera pans to a higher angle (looking down on them) and we see him nude clutching onto her and her hand caressing his hair. It is this image that I thought could have been captured and put up as sex in art in our classes... even though there is nothing really sexual occurring in the scene. (The lack of sex is reinforced seconds later, when we are taken out of Bodo hallucinations and see that his body is wrapped not around the woman, but around the coal heater, which his brother must forcefully pull him from for a second time in the movie.)

I guess my point is that we were flooded with images/art that could be sexual (which in the end left me feeling like none of it was)... and it didn't seem to really lead to an interesting discussion of how art is sexual and why. Maybe it would have been more interesting to see have only a small range of art with a very thoughtful explanation as to why that are was sexual--- instead of a flood of images.

Also just a little comment on the explanation of sex in the two video clips shown in the first section of sex and art: I was a bit disturbed by the comment that the Boys Don't Cry was an example of subtle sex in art. The scene was very explicit: nudity, kissing, caressing, zippers going down, simulation of penetration. I thought this was very interesting in contrast to the Madonna video which seemed much more subtle (First the entire song really could have just have been about dancing, having fun doing it and looking glamorous. And video didn't have anything really explicitly sexual, unless you consider Madonna's barely covered body explicitly sexual.) This also seemed a bit hysterically ironic to me, given whom Madonna is and how she's viewed by our culture.

Okay... those are just my thoughts.... Didn't mean to seems so negative... I did think both classes were quite interesting and fun, and I thought that the presenters put a lot of work into coming up with some wonderful stuff.... but the discussion or the result was not working for me....

later
Jess


Name:  Kathryn McMahon
Username:  superkatra@hotmail.com
Subject:  more on art, sex, etc.
Date:  2002-11-27 15:41:36
Message Id:  3901
Comments:
Why can't something that goes "undiscovered"/unseen be art? What about Emily Dickinson's work? Did she only create ten works of art (poems) because they were the only ones she published during her lifetime? Or why would the other poems become art only once they were seen?
As far as defining art in terms of context, I think that we like to think of great art as surpassing a lot of limitations that society otherwise imposes on people because of race, class, sex, etc. However, who creates what affects where art ends up and who sees it. What race, sex, etc. someone is impacts their social recognition and who acquires the title of artist and has their work recognized. I highly recommend checking out http://www.guerrillagirls.com/. They are an anonymous group of women artists who fight discrimation (all sorts) in the art world, in the film industry, and beyond by utilizing humor and media. They make lots of ads and wear gorrilla masks and only call themselves by the names of famous women artists, like Frida Kahlo.
Also, last night I was wandering around Magill (Haverford's library) and found an amazing DVD. It's called Sex & Drugs and it's from The Educational Archives series. Basically it's twelve different short educational films from the 60s about (you guessed it!) sex and drugs. It's hysterical and chock full of misinformation. There's one of Sonny Bono in gold lamme talking about the hazards of pot, which is a riot. As far as sex goes, there are a couple of different approaches which are at best evasive, and at worst phenomenally patronizing, racist, homophobic, and sexist (i.e. implying that minorities and women who have sex before marriage should be blamed for the spread of syphillis). There's one from the early 70s on the sex education of "trainables" (people who are mentally challenged!). It was very unnerving to see because while it tried to make clear that consent is very important, they still filmed them masturbating! No privacy and no consent! Ahhh! Anyways, everyone should watch this. It's very entertaining and quite an eye-openner.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Name:  Lindsay Hills
Username:  lhills@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Picasso Sex
Date:  2002-11-28 12:05:23
Message Id:  3904
Comments:
Ok so one of my favorite Picasso works is the one of the two hands holding flowers, but it was only in that room, that set up that i saw a sexual element in it. When looking at the hands, as two equal beings one can witness the element of equality in terms of a relationship. The flowers being held by both sets of hands, are only allowed to flourish given the balance of interaction of the two people holding them. If the hands are too tight tthe flowers (life/love) are crushed, too loose the flowers are lost, and if the hands move in either direction too much in contradiction to the other set of hands then the flowers are strained sometimes causing it to break. Such an account of Picasso's painting is slightly problematic...because much of art is focused on the notion of interpretation. I am taking another class with sarah h and emily regarding the very topic we have fought against for the past two week, "Aesthetics: Nature and The Experience of Art." for the past 2 months we have been talking about interpretation, artists intent, attempting to uncover is it art? why is it art? who makes it art. I bring this up, becuase i feel the majority of the class has been spent on us saying what we "think," whereas the other class has focused on critically analyzing what others have thought. The most recent discussions of Sex in Media and Sex in Art have been especially problematic becuase for the most part we have no real background information to help us think outside of ourselves, in this sense i feel like some of our class discussions have been handicapped by our lack of interaction with material that would cause us to question one another with some credible works rather then "in my opninion" responses. While such a response may be credible, i guess i was hoping for a more intellectually stimulating conversation and i feel like throughout all the group presentations, while most times i did learn something, i didn't feel like i was "moved" the way i thought i was going to. just what was on my mind.....
Name:  HY
Username:  
Subject:  Sociology and Biology and Sex . . .
Date:  2002-11-29 18:00:09
Message Id:  3909
Comments:
I thought it was very effective to have invited these two visitors to speak to our class. I very much enjoyed the article that was associated with Bob Washington's lecture. But reading the article after Bob visited our class raised some questions that I wish I could have asked Bob directly. I discussed the article with someone else outside of class and an important and tricky issue was raised. Ideally, anthropology, sociology, and ethnography are fields of study that are not intentionally exploitative of the cultures and communities that are ultimately studied. And although these three fields have been an agent through which colonialization and exploitation have occurred, they are not theoretically so. My question for Bob, and for all researchers in similar positions today, is: what are you specifically giving back to this community in exchange for their openness towards you? Now, I believe that some researchers in the field, study communities or phenomenon within communities purely for their own interest. And some researchers simply choose to research and observe and nothing else on the premise that they do not want to alter the culture or community that have observed in any way. Although I agree with this idealistic desire, my response to the latter argument is that, the researcher has already altered something just by being there herself. I continue to challenge researchers of this kind by asking them what it is they are doing in return for the culture or community that has welcomed them. So, I pose this question to Bob, even if I get no answer. I was a little puzzled by a passage in the article that I found a little ambiguous. Perhaps someone can help me interpret this as it was intended. And if it was intended and I was initially inclined to believe, then perhaps someone can help me reconcile my fury! The author's friend Malek is mediating between a woman, Christina, and the author of the article, Ted.

""I am discussing with her how much I will teach her sexually," he informed me. Christina's English was not so good, so he repeated the quip in Kisukuma, and she cracked up again. "She already loves you very much," he continued, to me. "She wants to do anything you want. I have told her that you are afraid of AIDS, and that she must just suck. She says fine." Christina did not appear to have followed this, which was O.K. with me. Malek and the others had by now become skilled at running interference for me with the women in bars . . ." (page 65).

Is Ted O.K. with the fact that Christina has not understood so that he may exploit her? Or is he O.K. with the fact that she has not understood so as to protect her? I hope I am not reading into this too much, but this passage puzzled me and even after re-reading it a few times, I felt that it was eerily ambiguous.


As for Paul Grobstein's talk . . . biology has never seemed so conceptual to me. What I greatly appreciated was Paul's ability to, first of all, help us understand the biological notion of sex. But more interestingly, how this seemingly limited scientific definition, is still applicable to actual sexual phenomenon. The fact that Paul uses biology's definition - sex as a means to create maximum variety - in order to understand, 'justify,' or explain the variety of different forms of sexuality found today, is admirable. I am not as eloquent as he was in explaining this view, but I assume that those of you reading this, remember what I am alluding to. I wish I had taken BIOL 103 for my lab science requirement!


Name:  HY
Username:  
Subject:  Sex and History and Religion . . .
Date:  2002-11-29 18:01:17
Message Id:  3910
Comments:
I was happy to see that the presenters seemed able to share material that they had wanted to share with the class earlier. It seems that this format of teaching is effective in the sense that everyone will have an opportunity to share something they are personally enthusiastic about with the class. However, I felt that the presentation lack cohesion. I felt that I was being presented with small particular aspects of a larger and broader category which we did not spend enough time defining or even considering. I know that such an exercise is difficult and futile because how do you define history!? But it would have enticed more thought had we been asked to interact with the material more than what was asked of us by simply reading and openly reflecting upon it. I was especially interested in what Maggie brought in. I have been meaning to read Memoirs of a Geisha for quite some time. It was interesting to draw a parallel from the roles of Geishas to the roles of courtisanes in Italy (depicted in the movie Dangerous Beauty) as well as the Vietnamese prostitute that I mentioned from the movie Three Seasons. As well as the women depicted in Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World who are taught to see sex as fun and risk free (both physically and emotionally). They wear belts that are equipped with a variety of contraceptives and lubricants in the evenings so as to always be ready for a sexual encounter. Pregnancy is dreaded and so is emotional attachment, or love, with one's most recent partner. In fact, detached polygamous sex is encouraged. The cross cultural presentation of material was a nice touch - very much appreciated - even though I do not know if it was intentional. History is not just a European phenomenon even though it is its conception.
Name:  HY
Username:  
Subject:  Sex and Media . . .
Date:  2002-11-29 18:02:13
Message Id:  3911
Comments:
As one of the presenters of the course concerning sex in the media, I felt fed up with the way class was going. Admittedly it was a difficult and painful task to organize the second quarter of our course, but these difficulties should have enticed us to work harder at tackling very difficult problems instead of crushing our will and motivation to make any effort. It was obvious that the presenters of groups had not even met together before coming to class "ready" for discussion. This is a shame! Those of us in the media group felt similarly and we decided to make an extra effort for this presentation. We had hopes to re-enthuse our peers and to redirect the method of presenting most groups were using. We were aspiring to revolutionize the course and get back on the track we had started on. It was to our dismay that we seemed unsuccessful. Students did not seem enthused nor had they apparently put much thought into what they chose as their examples of media. This was disappointing. This is not to say that there aren't things we could have done differently. It now obvious that many of us need some structure in a course and that spending a mere 90 minutes on a topic as broad and complex as sex in history, or sex in law, or sex in media is inadequate (to say the least). There is no doubt that our discussion on media should have been more focused. We may have been more successful had we provided you with a definition of media from the start, instead of trying to work through 'what is media?' We could then have given more consideration to sex within this definition. Our discussion might have been more fruitful, more engaged, more focused. Nevertheless, students inevitably hold 50% of the responsibility for the outcome of a course. What you put into a classroom is what you'll get out. This is true for both the professor (in this case we presenters) and the students. I apologize for having disappointed those students who would have conceived of our presentation differently. But we media presenters were equally disappointed in the lack of responsivity from the students.

I want to iterate that this comment is not meant to be abrasive at all! I am trying to be direct and to the point - balancing between beating around the bush and being overly confrontational. I am offering a reflection on the course thus far in general and specifically on the presentation of sex in the media. I would like to remind us all that students make the class and we, at a liberal arts college - at BRYN MAWR COLLEGE! - have the luxurious opportunity to direct a classroom and its syllabus. If we do not take that power into our hands and use it, we should not complain.


Name:  HY
Username:  
Subject:  Sex in Art II . . .
Date:  2002-11-29 18:03:01
Message Id:  3912
Comments:
WOW! I was pleasantly surprised to see what an effort this group made to entice us into enthusiasm and conversation. Your sex gallery was wonderful! I wanted to sit around in it all day and I was sad to realize that it wouldn't be there the next time I visited Pem West. You, the presenters, did a good job of bringing in a variety of mediums and styles and I was especially happy to see the musical touch. Jenny, you have mentioned music several times in forum postings as well as in class. Unfortunately there was an overemphasis on the visual mediums of art and taste, smell, hearing, and tactile senses seemed to be pushed to the periphery (and I apologize for that to Jenny and Jill in particular). Although this is a loss to the observer for not taking all mediums into consideration, it raises some good questions. Why do we all assume painting, drawing, and sculpture when we think of art and art galleries? Why didn't we spend more time talking about Jenny and Jill's musical interpretations of sex in art? And, as Lindsay mentioned, was the art work in your sex gallery sexual only because it was in a sex space? Is Picasso's painting inherently sexual? Or does his intention not matter? If one observer sees it as sexual, then is it legitimately sexual for him? And if another does not see it as sexual, then is it legitimately non-sexual for him? Are these last two questions dangerous in that they create a sexual non-sexual binary system in which to interpret art? What is more important - the artist's intention or the observer's interpretation? Overall I was impressed and titillated at our last group presentation. I am glad we ended on this note! Bravo!
Name:  LH
Username:  wizzywhirl@hotmail.co
Subject:  the LAW
Date:  2002-11-30 21:31:06
Message Id:  3913
Comments:
once again I have fallen into my old habits of forgetting to post. So here is (once again) my attempt at redemption.

I am actually particularly upset for not posting about law and sex. we started out the semester by talking about middle schoolers having oral sex. From what I remember many of us were frustrated that it hadn't occurred to many people that these kids (especially the females) may want to be having oral sex and that maybe that is not so bad. But then we get to class. And our discussion kept going back to us believing that this 14 year old girl, who had so many partners, did not have the agency to make those decisions. And when Anne forced us to line up and locate ourselves between thinking she should or should not have the ability to make these decisions for herself it seemed like most people were in the middle or heading towards not wanting to give her sexual agency. I am really bothered by this. The laws really get at me because they make the same assumptions that we were coming up with in class: that an adolescent girl was not capable of making the decision to have sex and therefore we need to PROTECT her. That's the most bothersome part. We need to watch out for little girls. We need to watch our for women. They might get themselves in trouble. I am not saying women cannot be coerced into having sex, what I am saying is that we should not always assume that women and girls cannot make these decisions for themselves. If we tell a girl she needs to watch out for men her entire life, her guard is up. She feels scared, and she becomes more vulnerable. Whereas if we tell a girl she is sexual and can make her own decisions, she really will be able to do that. if we tell women they will be victimized and they need to be protected from men, they will fall right into that categorization. That is hardly empowering for anyone. And look at basic rebellion patterns. It's the super restrictive and conservative parents that seem to end up with the rebellious children. Why can't we teach women to be responsible not defensive? What 13 year old girl do you know that not have any sex drive? If we decide that a girl cannot act on her sex drive then we are telling her to stamp out her feelings because she is too young to really understand them. but how can we tell her she cannot act on a sex drive when she has physically matured and is going through the same menstrual cycles adults go through. how can we tell someone how s/he feels? Have any of you ever been told that "you're too young to understand?" I have and it really pissed me off. If we are young we don't understand. We don't have feelings. Come on have more faith in the young. They only thing they know is what they feel and if you take that away from them you take so much more.

Instead of framing the law to protect women and girls, why can't we empower them? lets teach them to love their bodies and embrace the emotions and urges they have. If we do that then it's a lot harder for a women to really be coerced against her will. If we let her explore these sensations, emotions, feelings, urges, whatever she will really understand what she wants and it will be easier for her to make the decisions for herself.

I could ramble for hours but I have a couple questions I want to pose.

We didn't talk about the sexual agency of middle school aged maless. Where would you fall on Anne's scale? Say a 30 female sleeps with a 13 your old boy. Did she coerce him? Or a 30 your old maleman and a 13 year old male? Or a 30 year old female and a 13 year old female (think about the vagina monologues0?


Name:  LH
Username:  wizzywhirl@hotmail.co
Subject:  law
Date:  2002-11-30 21:31:58
Message Id:  3914
Comments:
once again I have fallen into my old habits of forgetting to post. So here is (once again) my attempt at redemption.

I am actually particularly upset for not posting about law and sex. we started out the semester by talking about middle schoolers having oral sex. From what I remember many of us were frustrated that it hadn't occurred to many people that these kids (especially the females) may want to be having oral sex and that maybe that is not so bad. But then we get to class. And our discussion kept going back to us believing that this 14 year old girl, who had so many partners, did not have the agency to make those decisions. And when Anne forced us to line up and locate ourselves between thinking she should or should not have the ability to make these decisions for herself it seemed like most people were in the middle or heading towards not wanting to give her sexual agency. I am really bothered by this. The laws really get at me because they make the same assumptions that we were coming up with in class: that an adolescent girl was not capable of making the decision to have sex and therefore we need to PROTECT her. That's the most bothersome part. We need to watch out for little girls. We need to watch our for women. They might get themselves in trouble. I am not saying women cannot be coerced into having sex, what I am saying is that we should not always assume that women and girls cannot make these decisions for themselves. If we tell a girl she needs to watch out for men her entire life, her guard is up. She feels scared, and she becomes more vulnerable. Whereas if we tell a girl she is sexual and can make her own decisions, she really will be able to do that. if we tell women they will be victimized and they need to be protected from men, they will fall right into that categorization. That is hardly empowering for anyone. And look at basic rebellion patterns. It's the super restrictive and conservative parents that seem to end up with the rebellious children. Why can't we teach women to be responsible not defensive? What 13 year old girl do you know that not have any sex drive? If we decide that a girl cannot act on her sex drive then we are telling her to stamp out her feelings because she is too young to really understand them. but how can we tell her she cannot act on a sex drive when she has physically matured and is going through the same menstrual cycles adults go through. how can we tell someone how s/he feels? Have any of you ever been told that "you're too young to understand?" I have and it really pissed me off. If we are young we don't understand. We don't have feelings. Come on have more faith in the young. They only thing they know is what they feel and if you take that away from them you take so much more.

Instead of framing the law to protect women and girls, why can't we empower them? lets teach them to love their bodies and embrace the emotions and urges they have. If we do that then it's a lot harder for a women to really be coerced against her will. If we let her explore these sensations, emotions, feelings, urges, whatever she will really understand what she wants and it will be easier for her to make the decisions for herself.

I could ramble for hours but I have a couple questions I want to pose.

We didn't talk about the sexual agency of middle school aged maless. Where would you fall on Anne's scale? Say a 30 female sleeps with a 13 your old boy. Did she coerce him? Or a 30 your old maleman and a 13 year old male? Or a 30 year old female and a 13 year old female (think about the vagina monologues0?


Name:  michelle
Username:  mmcgrath
Subject:  law and more on lauren's thoughts
Date:  2002-12-01 00:20:42
Message Id:  3915
Comments:
i too have fallen behind in posting and reading lauren's post about the law class really made me remember how much this class infuriated me.

After all the breaking down of sexual norms that we have done in this class we cannot get past a 13 year old who wants to have sex. Check that, a 13 year old GIRL. She needs to have people make decisions about her sexuality for her. Furthermore, we continued to use "sex" to mean vaginal penetration by a penis. I think lauren rightly called us on this when she asked how we would feel if it were an adult woman and a young girl. I would push this further, what if a 13 year old girl wants to have sex with another 13 year old girl - is that ok? It may be an importantly different scenario but I would like to know why. Finally would we prohibit a 13 year old boy from having sex?

I my suspiscion, like lauren's, is that we haven't gotten out of the framework of treating young women as victims, as people who need to be told how to deal with thier sexuality.

As for the laws, they may be necessary and they can only do so much, but i expect more out of a class that has up to this point done so well with escaping convential traps with women's sexuality.


Name:  michelle
Username:  mmcgrath
Subject:  media class + response to HY
Date:  2002-12-01 01:23:56
Message Id:  3916
Comments:
I agree with HY that the many of our student run classes have been less than up to par but this was a problem that we identified at the beginning. I have not at all been suprised with the quality of the last few weeks of class. We knew that getting four to five mawtyrs/fords together for any length of time with one weeks notice (which is what many of us had if you don't count fall break, and you shouldnt) is near impossible. When groups of us could manage to get together it was only the night or two before so the class had little notice about what to read or bring in. As a class i feel we had an incling that this would happen as we planned but b/c we were running out of class time we just said screw it and went with what we had. So i guess i agree with HY's disapointment about the class but unlike her i am less frustrated b/c realisticly i expected nothing more.

As for the media class itself i feel like some things got confused. It did not bother me that the collage was a depiction of maistream images of sex. What did bother me was that with fifteen minutes left in class it seemed that we were not going to discuss how they were detrimental and exclusive. I believe this is simmilar to Elisa's point but not the same as i don't want to put words into her mouth. To me this seems to be one of the most obvious and important things that needs to be disucssed in a class about sex and media - that is the desexualization of whole groups of people. I don't mean to be accusatory b/c things may not have gone as planned as is the case most of the time in teaching. Yet i think it is important to understand how the choices we make about what gets discussed and what gets passed by effects the groups who never get discussed. But more importantly those of us in the dominate, race, sexuality, gender or class, never get to prolematize our role an unaware dominator.

By no means do i believe that the media group had any intention of excluding anyone or leaving out something markedly important. If it weren't for elisa's comment i may not have realied all the exclusions myslef. But this is why i feel the need to point it out with such emphasis - i, who try to be aware of these issues, once again passed over enormous groups of people becasue i have the privilege of being in the dominant culture. I scare myself when i do that. I guess mostly i am thanking elsia for not allowing me to once again ingore people - in the very least i came out of our class even more aware of how easy it is to forget one's privelege, and how easy it is to take for granted that people realized the privelege they have and the privelege being presented.

ok that's so much more than enough, and probably not all relevant. please please feel free to discuss and hash all this out, there's a lot here.


Name:  michelle
Username:  mmcgrath
Subject:  sex and art part II + response to jess
Date:  2002-12-01 01:44:08
Message Id:  3917
Comments:
I througly enjoyed class on tuesday - it made me feel very creative which is a feeling i revel in. Some parts of the gallery made me feel sexual and some didn't. My favorite was kneeling down and eating chelsea's banana, simulation? art? who knows ;-)

In a way i agree with jess in that i would have liked to talk more about music and sex rather than just having it as a background peice. Much of what i write in this forum relates to the interwining of the sexual and musical. I also agree that a lot of what was presented were sexual LYRICS and not necessarily sexual MUSIC - for me the two are sometimes related but very much distinct ways of expressing sexuality. When writing about what struck me most i wrote about jenny's guitar playing - i just kept coming back to the wailing of the guitar. I have to agree that guitars are super sexual if not just muscially most definitely symbolically. They have a long fallice that you move your hand up and down, carress it just the right way to get it to do what you want. The body looks disticntly female - it is where the sound gets created, where it resonates. The playing a guitar and pleasuring someone sexually involve intamate knowledge of the instrument/body, its nuances and the goal is to make it sing sing sing. The anaolgies could go on and on - i remember it being articulated perfectly in Catcher and the Rye but i've lost my copy so i don't have the quote. i'll see what i can do about that....

ok that's it. wish we could have talked more about music but only time for so much...


Name:  Iris Dickerson
Username:  hoshicolv@aol.com
Subject:  sex in law
Date:  2002-12-01 15:19:22
Message Id:  3920
Comments:
I recieved this list of "odd" sex/nudity laws from a friend. All I can think is there must be an increable cultural gap, because I can't even concieve why these laws would be made. I'd be interested in the background for these. Anyone know?

In Lebanon, men are legally allowed to have sex with animals, but the animals must be female. Having sexual relations with a male animal is punishable by death.
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In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman's genitals, but is prohibited from looking directly at them during the examination. He may only see their reflection in a mirror.
*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Muslims are banned from looking at the genitals of a corpse. This also applies to undertakers; the sex organs of the deceased must be covered with a brick or piece of wood at all times.
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The penalty for masturbation in Indonesia is decapitation.
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There are men in Guam whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time...Reason: under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
In Hong Kong, a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands. The husband's lover, on the other hand, may be killed in any manner desired.
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Topless saleswomen are legal in Liverpool, England - but only in tropical fish stores.
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In Cali, Colombia, a woman may only have sex with her husband, and the first time this happens, her mother must be in the room to witness the act.
*~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, it is illegal for a man to have sex with a woman and her daughter at the same time.
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In Maryland, it is illegal to sell condoms from vending machines with one exception: prophylactics may be dispensed from a vending machine only "in places where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises."


Name:  Anne Dalke
Username:  adalke@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Final Slices
Date:  2002-12-01 20:55:07
Message Id:  3922
Comments:
Welcome back to you all! A reminder that we will be finishing off our
semester together w/ five days of presentations of "slices" from the
sex-ed curricula that you are preparing for your final projects. My
earlier instructions were a little vague regarding one component of this
final assignment, so I reinterate (actually, revise) them here:

--go somewhere you haven't been (i.e. your praxis site),
--learn to know the people there,
--ASK THEM FOR THEIR IDEAS ABOUT WHAT COULD BE
ADDED TO THE PROGRAM, WHAT THEY THINK THEY NEED
OR WOULD LIKE TO HAVE (in terms of sex ed curricula, as broadly
defined as need be),
--do the necessary research to fill the gap,
--create what is missing (in a form equivalent to a 20-pp. paper),
--take 15 min. to present a piece of this in class, explaining
the context--that is, why it's taking the form it is.

See you on Tuesday--
Anne


Name:  sheri
Username:  sfernand@bmc
Subject:  pandora
Date:  2002-12-01 21:57:02
Message Id:  3923
Comments:
The poem Bea shared with us seemed very sexual to me...exploding, trembling, breaking seals, but that's just how I read it. The writer did not intend the peom to be sexual, which me back to the idea that beauty (sex in this case ) lies in the eyes of the beholder. Written work that is sexy to someone isn't necessarily sexy to another person. What is odd to me is what the writer really wanted to say.
Is there's a difference between something given for pure beauty sake and something that is given to be sexual? Maybe to the creator, but to an audience I believe the two can be interchangeable. One could find sexuality in anything as was displayed in our art gallery on Tuesday, things placed there on purpose or stuff that just happened to be there.
Name:  sheri
Username:  sfernand@bmc
Subject:  sex w/ paintings
Date:  2002-12-01 22:32:08
Message Id:  3924
Comments:
Sex w/ a Painting?
There's a difference between estacty and orgasm. Saint Father Euzepio would go into such estacty during elevation that he would levitate (this is true). I wouldn't say that was sex, but more utter happiness. Not a lasting orgasms- because frankly there can be not so great orgasm... and sex does not even mean having an orgasm. Estacy is even better than sex. I think this is something we need to think about.... We don't have sex with everything we really like, right?
Name:  Monica Locsin
Username:  mlocsin@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Sex in art II
Date:  2002-12-01 23:00:03
Message Id:  3928
Comments:
The art gallery was fabulous!! I was fascinated with the extreme hard work this group put into creating an art gallery which gave us the opportunity to use our five senses. It was nice to see two different presentations integrating the subject of sex in art.I was part of the first group who presented the same topic and seeing Nancy, Chelsea, Nia, Jill and Jenny present their view of sex in art made me feel that these two presentations did its best to really give the class an insight of how we tried to cover many of the key elements of sex in art. To be honest, I found this presentation more entertaining and interesting than the sex museum I went to in NYC. Way to go girls!
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