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.

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