No, letting creepy men grope your objectified body will not combat objectification

mirror box

This week in nooooooope, Swiss artist, Milo Moiré, who describes herself as a “conceptual and performance artist, painter, and psychologist,” is getting a lot of attention due to her new performance piece, “Mirror Box.”

And it’s no wonder! The whole thing is basically her being groped by a bunch of creeps. Creeps love that shit.

 

On her website, Moiré asks, “What happens when a woman puts her sexuality on public display, assertively takes the initiative and lays out clear rules for the intimate interaction?” Her answer, apparently, is to cordon off her shaved vagina and breast implants, stand in public spaces, and allow men to grope her.

So, first things first. Inviting men (and a couple of women) to grope your literally objectified body parts does not equate to “sexuality.” Objectification, in fact, has nothing to do with women’s sexuality. The fact that so many women believe that displaying their sexualized body parts for the public does equal “female sexuality” precisely explains why this kind of “art” or “protest” does not effect change so much as it reinforces the status quo.

On her website, Moiré explains that “the consensual nature of sexual acts becomes a symbol here.” She adds, in third person, “Moiré has additionally taken the liberty of showing female desire, thus giving women a sexual voice.”

Naw, girl, naw.

What you are showing is the opposite of female desire. You have created a literally objectified body and offered it up to men. There is nothing “sexual” about this presentation, except for the men’s boners. “Consenting” to be objectified does not make the objectification go away, nor does the consenting magically create “sexuality” or a “sexual voice” (what Moiré means by “sexual voice,” I do not know, and am willing to bet she doesn’t either).

Moiré goes on to say, “The audience’s reflection on the mirrored box simultaneously becomes a visual metaphor for the role reversal from voyeur to the object of view.” This confused statement leads me to believe that Moiré opened up a gender studies book and copied a few cool-sounding phrases onto her website that she figured no one else would understand either, thus tricking her audience into an emperor-has-no-clothes-type scenario. Like, “You’re too scared to admit you don’t get this either, right? Perf. I’ma furrow my brow and nod, now.”

I mean, there is no role reversal here. Not a one. The voyeur remains the man while the woman remains the object. I am actually kind of baffled that Moiré could type those words with a straight face. Maybe she’s playing a big joke on us? Like, maybe “Mirror Box” is satirizing a 20-year-old liberal dood who’s trying to impress a date with gender studiesesque mansplaining?

In order to remind us that actually this is feminism, Moiré announces, during her performance, “I am standing here today for women’s rights and sexual equality. Women have a sexuality, just like men have one. However, women decide for themselves when and how they want to be touched, and when they don’t.”

But hey, here’s the thing: Women’s rights have nothing to do with being groped by men. Like, the purpose of the feminist movement has never been to gain the “right” to stand in public spaces while strange men fondle our pornified body parts. And, in fact, telling men that this equates to some version of “feminism” or some kind of liberated sexuality reinforces the idea that female sexuality is only exists in relation to men’s desire and objectification.

I mean, if being groped created “sexual equality,” don’t you think that men would be getting groped all the time? And don’t you think women would be a lot more “equal?” Surely hundreds of years of groping would have liberated us by now? Basically Moiré is saying that prostitution will liberate women, because technically, every time a man pays for the “right” to grope, fuck, sexually harass, or abuse a woman, she has consented, ergo, equality! (And, actually, I’m pretty positive she’d agree with that statement, sincerely.) But anyone who’s paying attention can see that, alas, centuries of prostitution have not liberated anyone but men.

Watching this video of man after disgusting man grope her (with permission, though, so it’s not creepy!) actually made me want to vomit, but I forced myself to watch in an effort to understand her purpose. All I can conclude is that, once again, an “artist” has glommed on to an important issue that’s getting media coverage, but cares more about gaining attention than about understanding and addressing the issue at hand.

Please, for the love of something-that-is-not-god, stop telling men that their boners will liberate us. It is harmful and idiotic.

Those dudes fondling you are not for women’s rights, they are for themselves, and all you’re doing, Ms. Moiré, is telling them to keep on treating us like sexual things because, “You know she wants it.” You are making misogyny not only acceptable, but “feminist.” Fuck your “art.” And fuck all those dudes gleefully snickering at the fact they’ve successfully convinced women that female subordination is actually liberatory.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

Like this article? Tip Feminist Current!

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $1

  • sojustwar

    One of the worst things I have ever seen. So in a society where women are routinely harassed and raped and the media enforces narrow fake beauty standards on everyone, this sad joke of a woman with a fake body that pertains to the narrow ideals decides to become like a free prostitute except not inviting creeps to touch her. Will this make men see women as equal and respect women or stop judging their bodies at all? Will this inspire women to be confident in their bodies and sexuality. Nope. What exactly does this achieve- Nothing. Disgusting and pathetic woman with a messed up agenda pretending to be feminist.

    • IaraVasc

      They think it’s revolutionary but for those men it’s just: “Wow Booobieesss and puuuusssyyy”.

      • Meghan Murphy

        You got it.

      • K Crockett

        Exactly. Read the comments on YouTube.

    • Cassandra

      There’s a part of me that wants to stand back and try to understand where she’s coming from, like what f*cked up conditioning and brainwashing has she absorbed to arrive at this place?

  • “However, women decide for themselves when and how they want to be touched, and when they don’t.”

    I think the critical question here is “why”, not “when” or “how”. It took me many years of struggle before I figured out that sex is the closest two people can touch, and sometimes only that level of intimacy will do. Before then I could never figure out “why”, other than “because society says to”. I’m guessing she hasn’t gotten that far yet.

    • will

      Brilliant comment.

  • Meghan Murphy

    My thought too….

  • radwonka

    ““the consensual nature of sexual acts becomes a symbol here.” She adds, in third person, “Moiré has additionally taken the liberty of showing female desire, thus giving women a sexual voice.””

    So first, sexual acts aren”t always consensual. Rape anyone? Marital rape? Sexual harassment? Objectified women everywhere in the streets without the consent of women? ETC ETC.

    And the concept “sexual act” doesn’t mean anything here (do these people define the concepts they use?), except that objectification should be part of female sexuality. And that’s nothing new.

    Why is it so important to “””express””” your sexuality? Why do we have to BE and PROVE every day that we have sexual desire? Why should everything become a sexual symbol? Why is female desire, reduced to… random men touching boobs and watching you with their disgusting gaze? There is no deep message behind this besides implying that creepy men are right to reduce every inch of female’s bodies to something sexual
    Why do we have to “show” it? What’s the logic behind it? Why is female sexuality always reduced to an entertainment show?

    It’s like sexual harassment is made legal (and I can already here our feminists saying that this idea is so empowerment youhou!!!!) and … justified.
    Her “art” thing reminds me so much of brothels in Netherlands and Thailand where women have to show their naked bodies to dirty pigs…

    And like she isn’t even turned on or anything: she’s just letting men touch her boobs. Where is the desire here? She’s passive. And doesn’t display any emotion besides smiling and encouraging random dudes to touch her because she has to prove that she is not a prude… That’s like some creepy porn movie.

    The idea of consent here is weird too: she does let men touch her, but she doesn’t feel anything (besides being proud to prove that she aint no prude?): female sexuality is reduced to letting men do whatever they want with you, sexualise your body and you have to smile no matter what. I don’t see how this idea represents female sexual desire nor do I see how original it is since it’s how men have always treated women.

    Even men don’t need to do that to prove that they have sexual desire. When was the last women sexualised men’s bodies like that? Why does it always have to be women who should shake their asses and show their boobs?

    And it’s super essentialist all this talk about “”female”” sexuality. Like uh no, you don’t get to say what sexuality is for ALL women. You don’t get to decide what is women sexuality or what is not. You don’t speak for all women. How narcissistic have you be to think that what you do represent what other women SHOULD do and think? What the fuck is wrong with these people. If only they could stop saying that they represent all women, that would be a start. But they don’t, and that’s the main problem: they promote misogynistic (and really stupid) ideas, and then will say that they have nothing to do with the objectification of women SMH

    • Sally Hansen

      Your brothel comparison is spot on. I mean… she’s inside a goddam box, for chrissake! It’s like she’s a typical dancer in a booth. Obviously such women should not be shamed, it’s a living they most likely did not really want to be doing, but c’mon… why is this something to aspire to?

    • It’s not female sexuality she is performing anyway. It’s male sexuality. It’s what men think women should be and do.

      • radwonka

        I know. But she claims to perform “women sexuality”, that’s the problem.

  • Joy of Resistance

    This is what happens when you accept “liberation” on the terms granted you by a male supremacist society. You get abominations like this “feminist art”. Thanks Meghan, your contempt for this double speak is well deserved.

  • IaraVasc

    Oh! Thank you lady. Now all men know about consent and not a single women will be raped again. Liberal feminism is a shame.

  • lk

    I don’t want to watch the video because I don’t think I can get through it. If someone who watched the video, can answer a couple of questions for me: how did the artist seem to when she was being touched by the men? Did she stop any man who touched her for longer than the allotted time? And did she refuse to allow any of the men who came up to touch her?

    On her website, it says….”Artist Milo Moiré utilises her body as an instrument, even as a weapon, in order to depict and disrupt power structures. She aggressively seeks the feminine expression of sexual self-determination and explores the boundaries of art and bourgeois morality.”

    How does standing naked and being touched by strangers disrupt power structures? What specific power structures are being disrupted?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I wish I hadn’t watched the video, tbh. And no, she doesn’t stop any of the men or refuse them (at least not on film).

      • lk

        Thank u. I asked these questions because if she was interested in showing anything close to genuine sexual desire in this “art” piece, I would expect some things to be shown:
        1. Different reactions to the different men touching her. Like, if a guy she felt some instant sexual attraction to was touching her she might moan or smile or something or ask him to touch her longer. And if some guy she found repulsive touched her (or if someone was too rough), she might recoil or grimace.

        2. Refusing some men. If sexual desire is about mutual sexual attraction, realistically she would find some of the guys unattractive and not let them touch her. I feel like the underlying implication is that women are sexually drawn to every guy and want to be touched by all of them. ..which is ridiculous.

        3. Her giving the men some direction. If this is about “women deciding how they want to be touched”, wouldn’t you expect her to verbalize how she wants the men to touch her? Like, use one finger or two or touch this area of my vagina/breast and not this part and so on. Is the implication that men know just how to touch a woman, even without talking to us or asking us?

        Everything about this just feels disingenuous and like cheap porn attempting to masquerade as something artsy and edgy.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Yes totally. Great points.

        • Raquel Rosario Sánchez

          Very thoughtful analysis, lk! People respond differently depending on the degree of sexual attraction so each person should have elicited a different response. But in this video, she only makes this face throughout when being touched by a multitude of strangers. No wincing, no moaning, not even closing her eyes or gasping a little bit. Just this stare right here.

          Putting her attractiveness aside, I associate this stare right here with the look on the faces of every “good” person in a horror movie right before they confess to being the villain and informing everyone that they are about to die. Just me? Just checking!

          There’s even degrees of intensity to what’s happening, like some men were very intense (with their hand-sanitizer clean fingers! ugh!) about it and some were more gentle but the whole time she just stares at them like “What are you feeling?” and “Does that feel good for you?” It’s like, no!! If this was about authentic female pleasure, then it would be about her response to the touching, not the other way around.

          Milo Moire’s ‘Mirror Box’: Where everyone walking down the street on their way to work can learn that authentic, female sexual desire looks like a woman being groped by strangers with a quizzical look that says “How does touching my body makes YOU feel?”

  • Raquel Rosario Sánchez

    The grossest.

    There’s fucked up post-modern art pieces and then there’s this jewel right here.

    I so wish that people who are interested in making art statements like this would just make it a truly individualistic project, instead of dragging feminism in it. I mean, if you get off on random men fingering you in the street after just using hand-sanitizer (!!) then that’s your thing. You could call it art, as well. But why bring the whole “I am doing this for women’s right” argument into it?

    Oh, that’s right! Because systems of oppression love it when the marginalized communities or classes of people they are trying to oppress perpetuate the oppression on themselves. So much to deconstruct here… I could see how some may interpret this as a clever way to show creeps who like to grope women in public places that they are being creeps, like, with the mirror? But I am 100% sure that they know what they look like when they do it. It’s like this art piece’s arguments eat themselves.

    Also “I stand here for women’s right and sexual equality… we can decide for ourselves when we will be touched or not.” No, we cannot. We do NOT have that right yet. Evidence? Everywhere! This reads like a slap in the face to victims and survivors who have to walk everyday in unsafe streets where men grab our boobs and butts and yell things they would like to do to us when all we are doing is just going to the grocery store or something. Maybe that’s how the idea for this project came about…

    Random creep: “Hey woman, I want to finger you right here in front of all this people so my creepy dudebro buddies can see!!”
    Artist: “A feminist project is born!!”

    I sincerely loathe with all my heart how feminism and women’s rights are so devalued in society that all the arguments, ideas and theories that would never be even allowed in other social and political movements somehow always end up taking place here. Nobody would even think of an art piece in which say, a working class mother allows wealthy people to throw cash on her “to make a statement on socialism and the condition of working class people” yet somehow here we are dealing with this stuff on feminism.

    The future looks promising.

    • They probably get off watching themselves in the mirrors anyway.

      • Cassandra

        This is actually very true. I have seen such behavior myself. I ran.

    • Cassandra

      Excellent comment.

    • will

      “a slap in the face to victims and survivors who have to walk everyday in unsafe streets where men grab our boobs and butts and yell things they would like to do to us when all we are doing is just going to the grocery store or something.”

      Yes. Yes. Yes. This.

  • Gyaleth

    … I wouldn’t even be so mad about this if it didn’t try to pass as “feminist”. Like, fine. If you want to promote objectification, harassment and rape, go ahead. Just don’t make it seem like a “feminist” cause, because it sure as hell isn’t.

    • Bleeps

      Right, if she just admitted she’s an exhibitionist/body narcissist and can get away with something like this because she’s a woman… well maybe that would have been closer to art or a statement.

  • Just Passing Through

    Thank you! Thank you! So glad I found this SANE website in a sea of libby-femmy-funfem-all-focus-should-be-on-our-tits-and-ass-at-all-times-becuz-that’s-all-that-matters BULLSHIT run amok out here!!! Just thank you….

  • Sally Hansen

    Typical middle class PoMo bullshit. Up is down, down is up, objectification is liberation, liberation is being mob-groped by disgusting men who give no shits about who you are as an individual. Totally Orwellian. This woman is throwing all women under the bus with her self-congradulatory bid for attention. And that’s just it, attention seeking, nothing more. It’s sad that her self-worth seems to be entirely dependent on how people perceive her sexuality, as if we women can’t just BE PEOPLE. Here’s a feminist thought, how about try NOT giving a goddam fucking damn what men think of you for once? Then get back to me.

    PS: Why are the most physically beautiful women usually the most self-hating?

    • lesbear

      “PS: Why are the most physically beautiful women usually the most self-hating?”

      I assume this has something to do with the intense, unrelenting societal pressure to BE “beautiful” in the first place. This woman is naturally attractive to begin with, but she has obviously changed herself (through breast implants and wearing exaggerated makeup) to to try to meet the social standard of what is “beautiful.” No one can meet that standard naturally, of course, and many women could never meet that standard no matter how much makeup we pile on or how many surgeries we undertake because we’re too short, too tall, don’t have the right facial structure, etc.

      Personally, as a non-naturally-beautiful woman, I find it a LOT easier to love myself and feel happy with my appearance because I know I can never meet that standard, so I don’t have to worry about trying. Maybe naturally beautiful women end up carrying a lot of self-hatred baggage around because they start off naturally much closer to that standard, so they really feel the pressure to try to achieve it because it seems within reach. It never is, though, since the standard will change and become even more unnatural as soon as someone reaches it, which leads to these women feeling bad about themselves because they “failed.”

      • Sally Hansen

        Very true. Yeah I’ve always been considered above average in attractiveness, but I’ve found that the more I tried to reach an ideal, the harder it becomes. It’s a weird paradox. So I’ve found the only way to live with myself and be happy is to just not care what men think. It’s much easier.

      • Bleeps

        Part of it also has to do with the way people treat you. If you fit closely to the supposed standard, people assume it is on purpose, and that you are “into” men liking/wanting you, or that you care about being fuckable, etc. I often feel bad about myself when I am seen as attractive. I do not want the attention it brings, but that possibility is mind-blowing to most people.

        • Wren

          No I get it. I am not conventionally beautiful but “cute” on good days. I used to want to be beautiful SO BAD (by society’s standards). Thank god I’m not more attractive, or my experience in prostitution would have been so much worse.

          But now I get really uncomfortable when men check me out. Just this morning my bell rang early at 7:00ish. A utility man was asking if it was okay to shut my water off because they’ve been working on the sewage system for months (argh). I explained that I just needed about 10 minutes more to brush my teeth then I’ll be off to work. It was all very civil until the last minute when I just caught something in his eye and got a feeling he was checking me out. I felt freaked out. Why does that always happen? Would another woman notice it, or am I just super sensitive because I was prostituted?? It’s especially tough at this point in my life because I should be dating men in their 40s but that demographic, in particular white men, are the ones that bought me.

          I suppose it doesn’t bother me when I give the vibes that I think they’re cute and cool, and I’m not bashful about doing so. But it’s the gaze…the male gaze that people have mentioned, when it’s not wanted or solicited, it still terrifies me.

    • Cassandra

      “PS: Why are the most physically beautiful women usually the most self-hating?”

      Because men want them and hate them for it? Because they’ll still always try to tear them down?

      And age is a real drag. Because that’s what they’ve been primarily valued for above anything and everything else. Who are you inside?

  • CJ

    It’s hard to see this as anything but selfish exhibitionism in the guise of “feminist political art,” and it’s depressing from literally every angle. There are all the points that Murphy explained above, about how it does nothing to challenge objectification and it deeply distorts the concept of female sexuality. But also, just looking at her performance art on her website, she is always naked and that is honestly confounding to me. I sort of want to have a conversation with her to understand why she uses her body so much, why she wanted it to have this particular “type” of body, and what it does to her art. To me, it communicates that “This is attractiveness, this is womanhood, this is the ideal female nude.”

    Her entire website is full of thin women with large breasts, actually, from her “old works” paintings page to the “shop” page. The first page of the shop is all images of models, mostly semi-nude, all with the same body type. Terry-Richardson-style soft-porn “photography.” I didn’t go to the second page.

    And I don’t know why I spent so much time on her website, actually. I guess because I have a background in art, I want to “understand” her as an artist but now it’s all seeming more misogynistic than anything else. But mostly it’s just exhausting. Everything about her as an artist is just… exhausting. I need to go clear my head.

  • Cassandra

    God this is upsetting. Dumbest libfem thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    Yo, libfems and edgy artistes!: If men are enjoying it, there’s a good chance it ain’t disrupting power structures.

  • So she thinks she’s controlling the “when” and “how”, does she? Apparently, she doesn’t know that some of the men are taking photos of her body behind her back. They don’t care about her consent. They’re controlling the event now, not her.

    • Cassandra

      That’s the thing about all these kinds of “take it back” and “I control it” themes. No matter how much you wish it were true, it’s just not. The dominant class decides and the outcome is reflected in this fact. None of this empowering empowerfulness of choosing choices has changed a damned thing.

      • lesbear

        Agreed, and this is the very reason that I don’t “identify as” queer or allow other people to refer to me as queer. Some of my family still uses queer as a slur and me – the one and only homo in the family – attempting to “take it back” doesn’t change what it means to them or what they mean when they use it against me or people like me because they are the majority. Simple as.

  • Alienigena

    Is this woman an artist in the same way that exotic dancers describe themselves as artists? That is to say, not really an artist. The article that I read about her naked selfies indicates that she ‘gave birth’ to acrylic filled eggs by pushing them in and out of her vagina. Sounds like a scene described in one of Spalding Gray’s monologue in the film “Swimming to Cambodia” that details a SE Asian stripper’s act, including a foreign object that is inserted in the vagina and expelled (or the contents of which is expelled). Sounds like a pornographic performance pretending to be art. What was Ms. Moire’s profession prior to getting into the art thing? Her Wikipedia entry states that she places ‘herself at the interface of art and pornography’. As others have said, her work is more porn than art. Her selfies appear to be available on porn sites. Didn’t click the links but she appears to be fodder for the porn industry more than anything.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/artist-milo-moire-arrested-in-paris-for-taking-naked-selfies-with-passers-by-in-front-of-the-eiffel-10369585.html

  • midwifemama

    As detailed in the 1991 early pomo-feminism anthology Angry Women, performance artist Valerie Export created this particular project of putting one’s breasts in a box and inviting guys on the street to fondle them back in 1968. Moire’s work is not only banal pandering to porn culture and patriarchy, it’s also plagiarism.

  • Rachel

    I don’t have time to read this article property on my break but will come back later to read. I did see that this lady identifies as a Pychologist and that pisses me off so I had to respond quickly. I find it really irresponsible to identify as a Psychologist and do these things. It’s like when that stupid book by “Psychologists” Allan and Barbara Pease came out “men are from Mars … ” blah blah blah

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yeah I think she has a Masters degree in Psychology…? I can’t figure out who gave her said degree…. I hate to be rude but she honestly sounds like an idiot and can hardly believe she has a Masters.

      • Nina

        Me as a meager Arts student could curate the shit out of this “work” of hers….but if she read it, she just go out and and make that another shitty mirror box. Coz…you know…, being inside a restrictive box that is reflective of the society and environment that also allows outsiders in, is highly liberating!

  • Nina

    Blergh! Insert puking emote!
    Great Article Megan. That vid…I just couldn’t even look at those creeps.
    FFS, and there’s kids around…they’re not stupid about what those men are doing!
    She’s not making it easy for artists that ARE actually feminist that might have something valid to contribute to the arts.

  • LynB

    I keep trying to post this on the fb-thread, but they keep disappearing, so am posting here instead… This “performance art” by Milo Moiré is not even original! This is Austrian artist Valie Export, 1968-1971: https://theartstack.com/artist/valie-export/tapp-und-tast-kino-tap-and-touch-cinema

  • If I had a nickel for every liberal feminist artist who thought she was making some kind of edgy, subversive statement by sexifying herself, I’d be fucking rich.

  • Melanie

    I find it very disturbing. The image of all those men surrounding her is what men do when they commit mass sexual assault. I wonder if any of those men refused because they have a conscience? That would have been subversive art.

  • Melanie

    I got from this ‘artwork’ that female sexuality is to be passive, compliant, objectified, on display and always willing and available no matter what or who. Really challenging the status quo there.

  • Melanie

    I would have added a mechanical arm that reaches out and grabs the men’s balls in a vice like grip the second their grimy hands make contact with her body. That’s my idea of great art.

  • Mar Iguana

    Someone needs to send this clueless woman every book Shere Hite has written.

  • gregory alan elliott

    At 3:40 min her purse was hanging by her side, wide open. Life imitating art? I would have put my hand in and not touched anything, just to make a point. But, I am an artist too.

    • Melissa Cutler

      I figured she had her purse open to accept tips, as street artists often do. Gosh, I hope that’s true because what more poignant way to express women’s sexuality and represent feminism than to accept money in exchange for random strangers touching her genitals?

  • Kendall Turtle

    Wouldn’t her selectively choosing those who evoke sexual attraction in her be her sexuality? Wouldn’t her sexuality be more supported if she was telling the men she was attracted to where she wished to be touched and how? I’m not seeing female sexuality here, all I see is repression of it.

    • will

      I agree 100%

    • Cassandra

      Exactly. “Female sexuality” has nothing to do with pleasing the male gaze.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Consent doesn’t make objectification ok.

  • Meghan Murphy

    What comment was removed or not approved? Our comments are all moderated, which means they don’t go up immediately, for example, if I am asleep.

    Also, ‘slut-shaming’ is not a real thing. Try ‘misogyny’. Much more to the point. https://www.feministcurrent.com/2012/12/07/its-not-slut-shaming-its-woman-hating/

  • Meghan Murphy
  • Meghan Murphy

    I know. I just really like the word ‘vagina’ and take any opportunity I can to write it or say it out loud, tbh. Poetic license?

  • Melanie

    Why would a man consent to groping a woman he doesn’t know in the street, in front of kids, women and other men? Does he think this is normal behaviour?

  • Couldn’t watch the whole thing.

    But I will say this: censoring it with a black box makes it even stupider.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Indeed.

  • fragglerock

    This isn’t close to ANY definition of intimacy.

  • Gardenia

    Honestly, I think that while she has the right to do this and enjoy being groped by strange men, there is really nothing feminist about this. This is literally the same old stuff we have been fed about women and their sexuality for decades.
    She is not only letting everyone who is willing to, grope her. She is also not even instructing them how/where to touch her. In my opinion this reinforces the idea that men know, better than women, what women want and that female sexuality means to be desired and basically used by men in any way they see fit. I still think she has every right to do this, she just shouldn’t argue that there is anything remotely feminist about this.

  • Unree

    It’s not just Valie Export who did performance art of this kind. Offhand I recall Marina Abramovic’s invitation to an audience to cut away her clothes and inflict pain on her with a range of implements, and good old “sex positive” Annie Sprinkle staged “Public Cervix Announcement” featuring the artist on her back with a speculum holding her vagina open and onlookers peering at her with a flashlight. I think there are many other such works.

    Like most people here, I don’t care for art that objectifies women. It’s not feminist by my lights. And I agree with Polly MacDavid that what Moire is doing would be braver and more interesting if she didn’t comply so dutifully with the standard thin-white-young rules of how to be attractive.

    But I wouldn’t attack Moire for seeking attention. Most artists, or people who want to be artists, want people to look at or listen to or otherwise engage their work. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Cassandra

    Feminism isn’t about “chaste modesty.” If you really think that’s what we’re saying, you need to get out more.

  • Rachel M.

    Wow thank you for sharing this. This is an incredibly insightful way of putting into words the problems of the sex-positive movement and the harmful of results of the way society defines female sexuality. I think a lot of us can resonate with this. I’ve read that heterosexual men are programmed desire women and heterosexual women to desire men’s desire. In other words patriarchy conditions us to feel aroused at the thought of men desiring us, not to desire men themselves. This explains why women often submit to such abuse; we’re taught that arousal men should be the only goal of our sexuality and as long as we achieve that, then the abuse they inflict on us is irrelevant. In a patriarchal framework, female sexuality truly has become a projection of men’s desire.

    You are incredibly intelligent and brave to be able to recognize and examine this conditioning after suffering such abuse. You deserve all the happiness and love of a healthy, caring relationship. Stay strong sister!

  • calabasa

    My roomie’s boyfriend told her he doesn’t have casual sex because it makes him feel bad (not because it’s dirty, but because he has to like the person first, and think it means something). The fact that I had this “aww” moment and thought this was so sweet, coming from a man, says everything. I don’t think there’s anything revolutionary, in a world in which women’s “free love” is co-opted, encouraged, packaged, marketed, fetishized, and denigrated about pretending that sex “doesn’t mean anything” (someone else said on here the “why” of sex rather than the “when and how,” and I agree it was a brilliant comment; the whole ritual of sex–whether it involves intercourse or other forms of intimate touching–really is the most intimate physical act between two people, and I think you should at the very least like and feel attracted to the person you are having it with, and expect them to treat you as being as much a part of it as they, rather than it all being about serving one party’s needs and them deciding everything).

    Jonah Mix (who, I hope, will archive his articles somewhere) had a great article about how passe it was for liberals to pretend sex was no more important than “playing a board game with someone.” Why, then, don’t we have sex with all the people we play board games with (or whose hands we shake), if it means nothing more than that? Why is rape and sexual abuse so devastating, if sex is essentially meaningless (it’s not just the violation of boundaries–it’s the perversion of a loving act and often the resultant confusion, damage to self-esteem–dehumanization–and the damage to sexuality); I would contend that in fact rape and rape culture exist as a way to condition women and girls into submission, into accepting all selfish, entitled men’s behavior in the bedroom and out (we don’t expect more of them, and are grateful for the least show of respect or consideration). The lie that “sex is no big deal” is part of this same conditioning (from the liberal side; from the conservative side it is “sex is a really big deal and you must save it for an exclusive owner”).

    Why should I go “aww” or want to give a guy cookies because he says something kind of obvious (wow, a man with a conscience, who doesn’t want to or feel he is entitled to have sex with every woman he feels the slightest tingle for regardless of whether he knows/likes her as a person!). Many have said before that rape is a “protection racket” (thinking about how my most recent bf deals with his demons only further illustrates that; he goes out all the time to make friends, hit on women, and drown out his sorrows; I cannot do that, as a woman, it is a privilege I do not have, to go out to bars alone to meet people; I would be harassed, need to keep an eye on my drink at all times, and nearly every man in there would assume I was out alone to “get laid” and it would be extremely unsafe for me, particularly if I did any drinking; I would have to fend off men’s advances the whole time; this is true even when going out with female friends, which is why women need to watch out for each other). So women get together with men because they are “safer” then (even though, as this most recent bf and sooo many much worse–more physically violent–abusive men also illustrate, women are often the least safe when mated with men; so we really can’t win); but certainly we are “safer” in public with a man around (which sucks, because what if you just want to go out drinking with the girls and be left alone? This is why it’s good to get good at being mean, I suppose. Not just direct, because sometimes that’s not enough; sometimes you need to actually be mean to get men to understand you are not there to fuck them. I need some practice at this, having been, like every woman under patriarchy, conditioned to be “nice”).

    But I would posit there is another way sexual violence helps the so-called “good guys”: women who are used to sexual harassment and assault all their lives, and internalize the male gaze and fetishize their own submission, make better partners for men raised to believe that sex should go their way (and that women should do what they want). It’s gross; the whole intimacy of sex–the meaningfulness of it–is warped and perverted by ideas (and displays) like the one in this performance art piece, although I don’t blame this woman, I blame the patriarchy that created her.

    When it comes to sex, what is truly empowering for women? I remember a friend of mine telling me she spontaneously burst into tears after she had sex with a man who gave her oral sex for hours and gave her multiple orgasms. She could not recall ever having a man care so much about her pleasure over his. This made her cry!

    In my opinion, since sexual intercourse is already a risk for the woman and, though intimate and pleasurable and connecting, still mostly for the man (some women can orgasm from intercourse alone, but many more can’t, particularly if they don’t have partners who make an effort–though I understand, of course, male performance anxiety and the difficulty of either holding out or sustaining erection under pressure; but there are other tools available other than penises, for female pleasure), giving women orgasms–through touching or otherwise–is just considerate; whereas all the “extras” men demand (oral, anal) are pretty much for him alone. Even in the best instances of intercourse, where it’s more of a two-way street, it’s still mutual. Sometimes these “extras” for men are mutual, but only when women decide they want to give them and when they actually enjoy them.

    I don’t think, in a relationship where partners have regular intercourse, that these extras should be mandatory for women to perform, whereas it’s really considerate for men to still try and give women orgasms, as they often don’t have them in intercourse; or, if men really want, say, oral sex, to make sure there is mutual trade-off then and not simply demand it all the time without giving back (intercourse does not always need to be the central focus); and mutual masturbation and the like. Basically, sex should not be about badgering women into giving up all parts of their bodies for men’s use, or pleasing them; it should be mutual, and men should quit being so friggin’ selfish when it comes to this most intimate of acts. (It often feels to me like the *reason* some men fetishize certain acts is because they know women don’t like them, or have made them “off-limits,” and they feel entitled to them and are excited by the forbidden; but this is so disrespectful! If a woman wants to, eventually, she will decide when and where she will do something, and if you don’t like it–if it’s a deal breaker–go get another partner, period. You don’t deserve her).

    But I think part of that is power, too. I think men are so much more vulnerable, emotionally, than women, because they are so emotionally stunted by masculinity, that the tenderness of true mutuality is terrifying to many (and gives women a lot of perceived power over them, even though really, this vulnerability goes both ways; it’s just that, in a hierarchy like the patriarchy in which men are raised to believe they should be in power over women, it is terrifying to give up power to a woman, even if she is doing the same for you). This is the woeful state of affairs we find ourselves in, when it comes to intimacy in sex between men and women under the patriarchy.

    And this sort of display in this video is the epitome of reframing oppression as “empowerment.” Self-objectification is never empowering (if I “choose” to be enslaved, does that make it empowering? How, exactly, am I showing up my slavers by doing exactly what they want?) As many have said, it would have been a more provocative experiment if she had *chosen* the men, instructed them how to touch her, had an orgasm, etc. (although still problematic in that it still sees sexuality as the key to women’s liberation; it isn’t). But it would have at least had a point of some sort. This is just troubling. And pathetic.

    I want to add: karezza (taking the focus off orgasm altogether–an interesting, non-goal oriented way of looking at sex, which also introduces men to women’s perspective of vaginal intercourse, often–that it is pleasurable and highly connecting without necessarily being orgasmic) apparently really turns the conversation about sex on its head, and is shown to be really great for couples, even for those who simply want to “spice up their sex life;” seems a lot better to me than resorting to whips and chains or pressuring women into doing things they don’t want to for their male partners, but hey, that’s just me.

    I am not sure where I was reading about it recently (if it was another commenter who brought it up on here, I apologize; but thanks for introducing me to the idea!!!) I would think the main thing with karezza would be getting a partner to agree to try it; but any good partner, I think, should be at least willing to try it (it is not asking, after all, for any out-of-the-way sex acts, but simply to refrain from orgasm). If it really can make couples closer, why not? I think it’s a fascinating idea that focuses on sex being about intimacy rather than end-goal pleasure for either party (and apparently it leads to better sex of the other variety too, by taking the pressure off both parties to perform; relaxation and greater intimacy might lead to better orgasms, down the road. Shocking!).

    • Julio

      Very well said about the part of how devaluing sex is part and parcel rape culture. I am just at the point where I don’t care what people are turned on by, i just ask that they not try to sell it to me as something progressive or liberating. (and dont even get me started on polyamory)

      • Wren

        “and dont even get me started on polyamory”

        Yes!!! My friends and I always have a laugh at that. WTF???

  • Alienigena

    I don’t think art exists in a moral vacuum. That it is exempt from criticism. What exactly inspired you to think that based on what I said? I agree that there is a lot of bad art. But I guess I don’t care that much. As an animator/illustrator (avocation not vocation though some of my work has been screened at film festivals) I consider what I do more social critique than art. I am uncomfortable calling what I do art, always have been. I have taken courses in art-making (drawing, painting, sculpture) and theory (colour theory, art history) but my background is in the sciences and social sciences in terms of education (for which I have received degrees). To me art does not have to be pretty or pleasing (hence my enjoyment of Eyre’s work).I appreciate intelligent comedy and satire more than I do contemporary visual art. I agree there is nothing innately special about art or artists. In fact I have met some pretty arrogant artists … when you train as a scientist you don’t dare claim expertise outside your area of study/research. But I found artists constantly doing that when I was on the board of directors of an artist-run centre (media arts). If I wasn’t actively condemnatory of Moire’s or others work it doesn’t mean I support it or its aims (which seem confused, as does the mind of its creator/enactor).

  • Zuzanna Smith

    Ugh, so vile. If anything she made it clear that a woman standing nude in the street asking to be groped will always have takers, dudes have no shame, disgusting.

  • Zuzanna Smith

    Do you think she’s a slut? You’re the only one here using that word. Why would anyone want to grope someone other than to do it because it’s furtive and abusive? Groped is the opposite to touched or caressed, for a reason.

  • Bleeps

    I agree with you to some extent, but I will say that when I am at my most self-hating, taking care of myself is something I actively rebel against doing. When I don’t hate myself, I do want to wear nice clothes or shower or eat food that is actually food-like; but it is not for men, and it is not to be”beautiful” or pornified. It’s unfortunate that anything a woman does is seen through the lens of being in service to men somehow, revolving around them. If I want to feel good or be happy, no matter how much effort I put into desexualizing myself, it is always interpreted as though I want male attention.

  • Gyaleth

    Even if there was such initiative against them, they’ll most likely whine about how they had her consent so it’s okay. Hell, Milo would probably even go to their defense, considering how “sexually liberated” she feels when a bunch of creeps objectify her body.

  • Sally Hansen

    Totally agree!

  • ElleMarie

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve experienced something very similar, and it is not something often talked about in terms of internalized male gaze, and the confusion of that desire. I fetishize my own abuse, as well, after years of abuse and rape. Libfems would call this a kink. I had one therapist call it a healthy part of sex. But I know it isn’t, and I don’t want it. It’s not something to be ashamed of (though the shame is a powerful enemy of mine), but it is not an identity I want to claim. It is not a practise I want to continue. It is not something I want to have “reflected” back to men, so they can think it’s okay. It imprisons me. And yet she calls it standing for equality.

  • Meghan Murphy

    No, the important word is not “allow.” Women “choosing” to participate in misogynistic practices does not make misogynistic practices ok. (And quoting Everyday Feminism quoting some Playboy shill isn’t helping your case.)

  • Meghan Murphy

    Consent doesn’t make a practice necessarily ok or ethical.

  • will

    “I feel like sex and intimacy should be held to some standard beyond “this gives me an orgasm and I consented, therefore it is good.” ”

    Yes, I agree. I would also say that we can do better than “this arouses me so it’s progressive.”

  • Rocio

    As someone who was promiscuous in college fuck off with that notion that oh somehow women with a high libidio want to let ugly random men touch them in public.

    Meghan is 100% correct in that women’s sexuality is so distorted that this artist doesn’t even recognize her sexuality is about *her* sexual desire and not about being the “cool girl” who will let literally anyone touch her even when she has no sexual desire for a person. We want a future where women aren’t pressured to do sex things with men or others they don’t desire in addition to not being assaulted and groped.

  • Rocio

    Good lord I just saw a media version of part of it and it was a little more PG-13 and it didn’t even occur to me that she was letting them finger her I thought her boundary would at least be only outside touching. Reading that in the comments made me want to puke.

    What’s missing from the media headlines I’ve seen of woman lets men grope her for art, is analyzing who the fuck are these creepy men who think it’s cool to grope a random woman. No doubt most of them they try to coerce women into sexual touching and sex in their lives. And the ones that don’t we just found who just think of women as meat and do not give one flying fuck if women enjoy sex.

    I’ll always come back to this anecdote of a life changing moment I had in a women’s studies class: one of my 2nd waver professors asked us why what young women say their sexuality is exactly what Hugh Heffner wants. Light bulb moment for me. We are so brainwashed and conditioned as girls and young women, it takes enormous work to even realize what it is that we want and not just be tricked into thinking that we should want what men want.

    As for her class comments that someone mentioned in one of the comments, the only people who want to fight “bourgeois morality” by hyper objectifying themselves in public to anyone are themselves bourgeois. It is no working class woman or woman of color’s dream to be fucked and touched by men she has no interest in. (Really no middle or upper class woman’s dream either but there’s something so privileged class-wise about I’ll free myself by consenting to subjugation.)

    I also can’t help but wonder if she HAS been assaulted before. Hypersexuality is a common response to rape. For the same reasons that women later have “consensual” sex with their rapists. There was one woman who responded to being gang raped by openly doing porn that mirrored her rape. The delusion that choosing to do something will somehow make you feel better about your past abuse because you chose it this time.

  • Melanie

    The look in the eyes of the men in both videos is so disturbing. They have a look of leering self satisfaction. Its very domineering, like despite whatever these women think they’re proving, the men know that they’re the ones in control, putting these women in their place, fucking them over and getting away with it so blatantly. They’re smirking. They love it. Meanwhile the women just seem distant, dead eyed, dissociated. I find it very hard to watch.

  • Wren

    Uh I think you got lost in the interweb. This is a legit feminist site, not a Hugh Hefner fan-club’s board.

  • Tobysgirl

    If you believe that mental health is facing reality in all its beauty/ugliness, then deluding yourself that objectifying yourself is liberating is definitely a mental health issue. Yes, it’s a common mental health issue, but being common does not make it healthy.

  • Tobysgirl

    I would think it would resemble the Milgram experiment (people thinking they were shocking other people with electricity). Any man who found the spectacle disturbing would not have been seen in the video, just as anyone who refused to shock other people from the get-go may not have been counted in Milgram’s experiment.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Ack!

  • linnet

    Grossly ineffective method.

  • barbara

    I have long had misapprehensions about performance art which involves attractive naked nubile young female artists and which presents itself as making feminist statements. Which is not to say some of it is not sincere in intent.

    It has often been a speedy route to art fame; a shortcut.

    Ana Mendieta, yes; had something to say and succeeded in my view. But even Vali Export, the originator of the piece under discussion here, and probably sincere, got it wrong in my view.

    She simply reinforced payriatchal views of women’s bodies as permanently open playgrounds for the expression and satisfaction of male desire.

    It would take too long to deconstruct what is going on with this copycat piece here. Bit it is reminiscent of an ad which has replicated a scene from a film or a painting, employing glossy production values and appropriating everything but the meaning.

    I wonder if she is even really an artist or if she is merely a front for her fairground barket boyfriend to flog his porny pix. Thete is word beginning with P for this.

    Certainly the salivating

  • barbara

    Certainly the salivating gleeful men twiddling her nipples and stroking her genitals give the lie to this having anything to do with feminism.

    This is grist to the mill for misogynist tabloids and the armies of feminist-hating men.

    There are so many potential scenarios behond this exhibitionist behaviour. Impossible to know for sure. But it smacks to me at least of the self-loathing self-abuse of someone who had been sexually abused.

    Wrapping up personal psychic damage or neuroses as feminist art and spouting half-baked incoherent jargon is quite common and really
    negative for genuine feminist art.

  • Paul R

    I am an overweight middle aged man. And I strongly support feminism. If I stood in a public square with an identical mirror box over my waist and offered people the opportunity to place their hands inside. Could I call it performance art, or would I just get arrested? Certainly there would be few if any women taking up the offer. But the slim, young women can get away with it. Because she is desirable. This isn’t a revelation to anyone. We know that women’s bodies are objectified. Presenting a young ‘ideal’ body for objectification doesn’t help. Perhaps if there was a range of body types and ages of both genders and the audience was encouraged to explore the bodies of these people – but specifically not the genitals as this takes it beyond social discourse into a public sexual act. Then perhaps, just perhaps, as performance art, you could have a piece that challenges how we privilege certain body types over others. Or perhaps, we would be encouraging a different type of creep… Not sure. But this isn’t art, unless it is to demonstrate the various leers one can receive in an afternoon.

    • marv

      Have you seen the Dove commercials using various sizes, ages and colors of women? They are all objectified, valued for their looks. Beauty norms are sexist even when expanded to otherized bodies.