|Photo from AmericanApparel.net|
Wow this shirt has created a huge uproar. I’m not surprised people are offended, but I like the concept. Would I wear a t-shirt of a woman masturbating while she’s on her period? No, that’s not my style. But I think this American Apparel shirt by designer Petra Collins and artist Alice Lancaster is challenging us to think about how we view what’s considered sexy and normal in women's sexuality.
Hairy vaginas don’t get love in these parts (pun intended). Seriously, we frown upon pubic hair and hairy vaginas aren’t considered sexy. In pornography, the women’s pubic areas are usually bald. Therefore, the pubes are turning people off.
Then there’s the second taboo-- menstruation. Periods aren’t usually pleasant times of the month for many. There’s cramping, mood swings, bloating, tender breasts, issues with going to the bathroom and sometimes an odor down there from the blood. Many cultures consider women unclean when they’re on their periods. But hey, it’s a natural thing and part of the baby development process. We benefited from menstruation blood and tissues lining the uterus when our mothers carried us. If I bring up periods, with men especially, often they’re uncomfortable and grossed out. We need to look at it a different way. No it's not the most beautiful thing, but it's a part of life and womanhood.
So I assume no way should a woman on her period and with a hairy cha-cha, be horny. And how dare she pleasure herself. GASP! Women and masturbation is still a hush-hush topic. Women have become more open about it, but I think we often associate masturbation more with men than women. There are women afraid to pleasure themselves. Some women see it as a nasty thing that good girls don’t do. But the woman on the shirt clearly has no problems with, ahem, taking care of herself.
While being on your period isn’t considered sexy, the woman on the shirt is aroused. Actually, some women’s libidos increase when they’re menstruating. While having sex on your period is considered gross to people, a lot of men and women don’t let that stop them if they’re in the mood. So what this woman is doing on her period is not uncommon.
Basically the artists hit on natural things that many people do/have yet find repulsive in this piece of art: pubic hair, periods and masturbation.
In an interview with Designer Petra Collins and Vice.com:
VICE: What do you think of the media storm you’ve started?
Petra Collins: It’s really awesome. I’m not surprised. It’s exactly what I wanted because it totally proves my point…
And what is your point? That we’re so shocked and appalled at something that’s such a natural state—and it’s funny that out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently. The graphic on my shirt is a line drawing, too. It’s not even a full-on image.
I agree with her. I’m more concerned about the violence our children are exposed to through video games, movies and television. That to me is more damaging than an image of a lady enjoying her one-woman show. The art on the shirt is not even sexualized. It's just normal.
To me this is just edgy art. I don’t think people are offended necessarily because it’s graphic. I think people can’t handle it because it’s real.