Don’t be a dick or you’ll end up in a gallery
Don’t be a dick or you’ll end up in a gallery
BY: KYLE FITZPATRICK
Dick pics are a modern problem. The sexually forward, highly explicit photos pop up without notice, typically jumping into a conversation between women and men as a strange greeting of excitement that is sexual harassment aboard the parade float of male exhibitionism. As one journalist mused, “Flashing in public is illegal…[A dick pic]’s essentially cyber-flashing, the real world’s online equivalent.”
What is one to do when this graphic non-gift appears in a text, email, or other DM or PM? You put the picture on blast–or, at least, frame it and celebrate it for its odd albeit rude stupid beauty. With I Didn’t Ask For This: A Lifetime Of Dick Pics, activist and artist Whitney Bell has turned the unwanted dick pic into a celebration of feminism by assembling a fleet of artists and thinkers to share their thoughts and works created in reference to the unsolicited dick pic.
The traveling art show is returning to Los Angeles for a two-day show this weekend, an October 6 and October 7 extravaganza of “sex positivity, feminist dialogue, and consent education” set against panels, shopping, related art, and 150 unsolicited dick pics. To understand how to deal with dick pics and find out how these photos are a call to action, we spoke with a selection of artists and thinkers participating in this weekend’s festivities. Here’s what they had to say.
Ericka Hart: Activist, Writer, Sex Educator, + Cancer Survivor
Art can confront sexism by making the experience personal. One of my favorite artists, Tatyana Fazlalizedah paints people with captions below the painting responding to street harassment, “stop telling women to smile,” for example. The first time I saw this image I was so excited that someone else felt the same as I did in regard to the ways in which cisgender men try to control your existence down to your facial muscles in public and private space.
Madame Gandhi: Musician, Artist, + Activist
Sex is an amazing thing when it is wanted, but when it’s unwanted, it can make you have a very gross visceral reaction to it. It makes me want to reject it very quickly. And so an unsolicited dick pic can be a turn off and become sexual harassment very quickly when the sender doesn’t feel the need to read the person’s vibe, and sends these photos any way. Naked photos can feel hot when it’s in the context of consensual flirting and it’s hot, and it can feel violent when it’s non consensual. It’s like forcibly going all the way without any foreplay. I want to live in a world where people of all genders can flirt freely and safely, expressing and receiving sexuality how they want to, but there is a responsibility on the part of each person to check in with their partner and make sure everything feels good.
Miranda Jill Millen: Artist
I think there is a perception in the dating scene that women are meant to be “chill,” and that any strong emotion is viewed as negative or labeled as “crazy.” So to that I would say IT’S OKAY TO BE “HIGH MAINTENANCE.” Women have incredible intuitions, and sometimes we try to over rationalise why a person is making us feel bad. So I think it’s important to trust ourselves, if you are feeling uncomfortable in any way, speak up. If you can, articulate to the person that they are being inappropriate and making you feel uncomfortable, if they aren’t receptive to your feedback use the tools to ensure they can’t send you images or messages again. Block them. Don’t feel bad, don’t be sorry, be “high maintenance.”
Antonia Crane, writer + sex worker
I was shopping for a wet suit on craigslist. This guy was selling some spring suits and he sent pictures of them and prices — stuff like that. I decided to go with another vender. The next day I got a dick pic from his number. My response was, “Dude. I’m at Chili’s with my family.” He apologized and said it was an accident, which we all know was a huge lie…Art has always confronted sexism, racism and other cultural violences and it always will. Look and listen: you will find it in literature, music, tv and film.
Carmen Monoxide: Tattoo Artist + Artist
I use art as a form of confrontation. For me, It is a very concise way to share my own experience while addressing issues I want to bring attention to and start gears turning to get people thinking about how their own actions affect themselves and the world around them. My painting in I Didn’t Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics is titled “You Had To Ask For This” and depicts a nude girl from her camera phone’s view of her selfie, her version of a dick pic. My inspiration for the piece was that every time I have received a dick pic, the sender would likely request my own nudes, and I proudly hold my own private photos of myself at the empowering value of only being seen by requests that I get to decide whether or not to fulfill.
Nora Rachel: Artist
This is not about critiquing dicks, masculinity, or men in general. This is about critiquing sexual harassment, non-consensual behavior, and sexism. That distinction is key, because the rhetorical slips of “man hating” and “sex hating” when linked to feminist art are old and tired and still very much present.
Xavier Schipani: Artist + Designer
I think like any symbol that has “power” it is important to analyze why and to share your thoughts in a way that is productive, I don’t feel like a dick pic needs to exclusively be turned into a feminist symbol but in doing so it creates a conversation that hopefully encourages men to reflect on the subjects being addressed. I believe that in order to fully achieve reclaiming the dick pick everyone needs to take part.
Lenora Clare: Activist + Artist
I’ve had so many unsolicited dick pics and men sliding in to my DM’s with graphic unwanted sexual attention that I began to normalize it and accept it as part of daily life. It was only after taking the time to process the intent let alone the volume that I really began to feel that if the act had occurred in person it would be considered a crime and the digital nature of it all made little difference…I feel that nudity and sexuality are wonderful things but it’s all about consent. Men need to understand that we will let you know if we want to see your dick. You don’t need to *ahem* shove it down our throats.
Carly Jean Andrews: Illustrator
I draw mostly naked woman, they are hot but in a weird confusing way. I’m into the idea of people being into body parts and positions that aren’t typically sexual. I love back rolls, heavy boobs, and stomach chub, strong powerful woman that aren’t easy to immediately absorb into your sexual imagination but when you do, you’re addicted! You kind of have to think on them and then rethink what you’re into. I went to a women’s wrestling show this month and it reminded me of how rarely I see the female body in these crazy, typically unflattering positions, I don’t think I blinked for 2 hours. They moved their arms and muscles came out and stretched upwards and their ribs showed and then bent down and their stomachs rolled. Any artwork that portrays women that aren’t “here just for you” is important.