protest literature and theories of sexualityAn anonymous course shopper in the open thread below had asked for recommendations for Lit and Arts cores, and I suggested LitArts A-86: American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac, which I took last spring. For the final project in the class, we had the option of creating our own works of protest literature. This was mine.
It's a portrait of my roommate posing as the Virgin Mary masturbating, intended to provoke thought about the valuation and/or devaluation of sexual self-knowledge in our society, particularly with regard to women. I wanted to portray female masturbation as a positive, celebratory act, and I wanted to challenge viewers to question the concept of sexual purity that the Madonna image often symbolizes. Does our society consider non-reproductive sexuality compatible with spirituality and religiosity? Do we encourage women to explore and enjoy their own bodies outside of contexts in which they are performing for heterosexual men? Even though it does not overtly deny the Madonna's "virginity," does the portrait alter the viewer's conception of Mary's chastity and virtue? Is the picture offensive? If so, how and why?
Just thought I'd put it out there as a plug for Protest Lit--I had fun in the class and it got me thinking. Of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the portrait, too.
Also, if you're at all interested in studying these issues in an academic course, you should definitely shop WGS 1003: Theories of Sexuality, taught by visiting professor Judith Halberstam, one of the country's foremost experts on sexuality and masculinity. She's a big deal. I attended the class today and it was marvelous.
Good luck shopping!