sexuality

SECOND SEX WAR Exhibition Explores Gender Identity in VR Pornography

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The SECOND SEX WAR exhibition by Sidsel Meineche Hansen uses an Oculus Rift and three-dimensional (3D) animations to explore how gender is reproduced in virtual reality (VR) sex videos.

Hansen is well known for her exhibitions and seminars that review the body and its industrial complex. Her latest exhibition, commissioned by Gasworks, London, uses common sexual representations of the female form to highlight the polarity of gender in adult content currently available for virtual reality.

Rob Sharp from Artsy described the exhibit:

“Looking down while wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, the viewer sees a computer-generated torso gyrating erotically around an abstract shape. Pulsating music blasts in the background as the camera angle automatically shifts to view a sexualized avatar’s unmistakably female face.”

SECOND SEX WAR refers to the feminist sex wars of the 1970s and 80s when the nature of explicit content was under debate. While a large slice of feminists believed women’s bodies were being exploited by the patriarchy, others considered female nudity an empowering aspect of free speech. Hansen’s latest work adds a fresh perspective. She subscribes to neither view presented in the sex wars, and instead, offers an alternative.

Read the full piece at Future of Sex. 

Image via: myvirtuallady

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HerSwab Lets Women Test Themselves for Cervical Cancer and HPV

Detect sexually transmitted infections from the comfort of your own home.

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Cervical cancer is the 14th most prevalent cancer in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the disease affects 530,000 women each year and takes 275,000 lives.

However, it is the easiest cancer to prevent among women when proper screening and follow-up take place. Lesions found via pap smears can be treated before they become cancerous, and early stage cervical cancer can be managed relatively well. The crucial factor in stopping the disease is to find it before it reaches an advanced stage.

Many women affected don’t have access to sexual health care. Without being regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they are at risk of becoming infertile or developing cervical cancer.

Even those of us with access to sexual health care often aren’t tested as regularly as we should be. Pap smears and STI tests aren’t fun. They can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Many women are reluctant to be tested for fear of judgement and discrimination from their doctors.

That’s why Jessica Ching, co-founder of Toronto-based sexual health startup Eve Medical, createdHerSwab. While speaking with women about an upcoming appointment, she was prompted to find an alternative way to manage sexual health.

Read the full piece at Future of Sex. 

Image source: Manuel Medina

Musings: Sailor Moon, Feminism and Hangovers

patriarchyI kind of like being hungover. It simplifies things, reduces one’s priorities to a glass of water or a heavily focused food craving (today it was pasties). Goals are more attainable, satisfaction easier to reach. Silver linings.

I was half-conscious, gnawing on said pasty and scrolling through my news feed when a friend’s post told me it was International Sailor Moon Day. Ah! If I’d known I wouldn’t have been up until 4am – drinking, smoking and slopping cider all over my dress – and could be half-way into a Sailor Moon marathon by now. Alas, I’m in true Bridget form.

Fifteen years since the gateway anime came twirling into my life it retains its magic. I still buy sparkly pink keychains depicting the sailor scouts and my cat’s name is Luna. But I found that, in many ways, re-embarking on the journey as an adult was even better than the thrill of my initial awe.

I like to think that a subconscious yearning for diverse representation contributed to my religious following of the series as a child – then again, it was probs all the pink. Either way, it’s easy to see retrospectively that Sailor Moon makes an effort to provide a balanced playing field and promote girl power at the same time.

What I was aware of was that Serena wasn’t a Mary Sue. She had flaws, obvious ones that were performed and put on display. Watching her scoffing down biscuits struck me – aligned with something – gave me my first hint at the uniformity of my then limited and unarticulated stresses about being a girl. Now, 23 and aware, it’s heartening to find so much good stuff in Sailor Moon.

Firstly, the glitz. It’s genius, really. Great long-term feminist propaganda. As well as giving young girls wide eyes, the girlieness of Sailor Moon serves a purpose. Rather than straying from traditional portrayals of the feminine, it embraces them – shoves them in your face. Weaponized femininity reclaims the stereotypes associated with being female, asserting that expressions of femininity can go hand in hand with power.

On top of this, its characters are extremely diverse. Each sailor scout has her own identity, her own place (aside from being a sidekick to Serena and fighting evil by moonlight). Their varying interests and personalities are a constant reminder to young girls that there is no ‘right way’ for them to be, and to embrace each person’s differences. As well as being super amazing heroes, the girls are relatable and real.

If there was any doubt about these themes being deliberate, they should dissipate with the knowledge that in uncut episodes Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are a lesbian couple, travelling around the universe helping young girls come to terms with their sexualities. Pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, these episodes were altered in an attempt to make them ‘more palatable’ and never aired in Australia, causing massive criticism to what was considered a key aspect of the show.

Upon inspection, Sailor Moon is laden with feminist quotes and ideals. It feels like a call to arms, like everything has been placed carefully and deliberately to achieve a common goal. Of course it isn’t perfect, but what is? Feminism is diverse, and Sailor Moon goes out of its way to acknowledge and identify with women of varying backgrounds and sexualities. Realizing this made my day.

Moon Prism Power!

Featured Image: Blastr