Tell us how you use art as a form of activism.
I think racism and sexism disappear our realities. They simplify who we are and turn our bodies, especially women’s bodies, into commodities. Racism and sexism subject us to violence, whether rape culture or the inability to have access to reproductive justice. The culture disappears us, and by disappearing us, we do not have access to our full humanity.
For me, art is about creating our stories on our own terms. Art is about complicating our story so we can be seen; it’s expression. Art is the way to be transparent and to tell my story and to give other people permission to tell their stories. I also believe in the power of art because it can be visionary. Activism is often very reactionary. I don’t think we need to be fighting all the time. I think we should also be creating the narratives we want in order to present that as an option to what people can become, especially for young girls.
You have an art project called Pussy Power. Tell us about that.
The messages are: “close your legs,” “don’t get pregnant,” “don’t let him take advantage of you” and “wait till you get married.” These are all disempowering. None of these messages ask me what feels good. I didn’t know what a clitoris was until my late 20s. I also didn’t know what an orgasm was, though I was having them. I used to be afraid of looking at my pussy. When I was on my period, I would feel ugly and dirty.
I was receiving a sex-negative frame at the same time that we were witnessing cutbacks in reproductive rights and having a lack of comprehensive sex education.
I wanted to disrupt these messages. I wanted to embrace that our pussies are powerful. Till this day, our clits are being studied. Female pleasure and sexuality is largely misunderstood. I wanted to have a frame of positivity that began with self-love and started with pleasure. It’s really about body empowerment. When we feel confident, we can ask for what we want. When we explore ourselves in a way that’s not about shame or duty, we get tools to express ourselves. This is important for women and for men who have sex with women. This gives us the tools to ask for what feels good, making it more than him just taking what he wants, a default that breeds rape culture
Pussy Power aims to normalize the discussion around sex. If you don’t, you create a culture we have now, one where women go off to college and fear rape, one where college-aged men say they'd rape women if they could get away with it. Pussy Power is an ideology about claiming the kind of love we wish to have and the relationship we wish to have. It’s about claiming love, sex and relationships on our terms. And the reason I call it Pussy Power is because “vagina” is just a hole; it does not include our whole vulva. I also wanted to embrace the sexiness about it.