Consent is an important topic to me. I believe it is the point from which we can resolve many of the problems that our modern society faces, because consent fosters connection; its integral to all relationships, when we feel we are respected and our personal preference valued. However consent can be a difficult thing to navigate at times.
There are many times when the world around us is not exactly suiting what we would prefer; and that will probably always be the case, unless we live inside a little bubble. The more we expand into the world, the more likely we will come across elements that we do not prefer. We wont always be wanting to have a relationship, or engage with everyone, everything in our environment; so we can say no, we should be able to say no. Part of saying no is just avoiding certain things. Out on the street, out in the world we say no by not looking, not going there, not engaging, ignoring. If we insist that everything in our environment conform to our wants, we will be domineering, oppressive and micromanaging. I believe that we should respect others right to be and do them, even if its not what we prefer. We have to decide all of the time, is this important to me? Do I want to engage here? I believe that we should also not jump to conclusions, not be reactive, instead be curious. Curiosity opens up our world. Sometimes we don't know what we prefer and so the contrasting elements can help us to learn and to grow.
As a queer person, a non conforming person, as an artist and free thinker, I have presented elements into peoples environments that they sometimes didn't prefer. I have not asked for their consent to be myself. My preference is that they be curious instead of having an aversion to what I offer. Of course if they do not prefer what I express, then I respect their preference as long as they not demand that I conform. Sometimes there is a conflict, and the relationship breaks down; or never develops in the first place.
In reference to this, I have come across the term eye rape, where someone sees something that they do not prefer. Its used quite casually at times which I think belittles, minimizes actual rape.
This project, DICKS ARE MAGIC is about bringing something controversial, male genitals into the light of day, into the streets and public spaces. Dicks are not allowed in public currently. It is a criminal offence to display actual male genitals. So some people suggest that seeing male genitals when they were not expecting to see them or didnt ask to see them, such as an unsolicited dick pic, deserves the classification of eye rape.
There is no such thing as eye rape. I agree that an unsolicited dick pic is not elevated communication. In most cases it will likely be offensive. Whenever we reach out to communicate something to anyone we should be considerate. We might try and put ourselves in their shoes. We might consider the consequences and how it might affect our relationship with them. It's only if we don't care about a relationship with them, that we would do something where we are not being considerate. But there is always a risk that the person will not take kindly to our communication. Were not mind readers, and its only normal to prioritize our needs over imagined boundaries of another.
There may be times when we see things that we don’t like, people do things that we don't prefer; but that is based on our opinion and perception. We are judging what we are perceiving through a lens. It may feel like the other person is being inconsiderate, but we are choosing conflict instead of curiosity.
Yes if we’re taking a stroll in the park, and a stranger flashes their genitals at us we are probably one surprised, because it’s not something we often see, especially in a public place, and two, we may be concerned with the person's state of mind, and further intentions. They are breaking some societal rule, and so we may perceive that they are inconsiderate. That is valid of course as our own assessment, but we should divorce that personal experience from the fact that neither parties are mind readers, and may not conform to the same value system or beliefs or perceive the experience in a similar way at all.
I anticipate that some might consider my art eye rape.
I want to point out a few things. Would it be a problem if it was an unsolicited picture of a puppy? No. That wouldn’t be a problem. However a penis is considered a threatening and dangerous thing. I believe that the primary reason for that is that we generally don’t see them. They are hidden away. We are told when we are young that we shouldn't touch our genitals, that they are our “privates”. All of our body is our personal possession, in that sense private, and that no one else should have access to it without our consent. And, our genitals are really no different from our nose or mouth; they are no "dirtier". We've just been indoctrinated with a collective shame about them. Genitals have been demonized and out of the private context are considered offensive by some, the status quo.
So showing anyone anything, is really just an attempt at communication, and then its up to us how we interpret that. We can jump to conclusions, get upset; but that says far more about us that what the person intended. We can’t know unless we ask them. They might not even know themselves. How you respond could make a lot of difference to the outcome.
DICKSAREMAGIC is an art project, a social commentary, its an education project, and its an offshoot of my other work as a queer mens embodiment coach.
I see dicks as a symbol of male confidence as well as vulnerability. I believe that men experience a lot of inner turmoil and conflict around expressing their sexuality; being proud of it but within the societal bounds. I believe that the societal bounds are far too restrictive, which leads to disease in our societies. There needs to be room to let off steam, to express ourselves. There need to be nude beaches, brothels, and on line spaces that aren't just about porn, but instead are about holism and sex. I believe that wearing a shirt with dick designs is an anti establishment statement; an artistic middle finger to the corporations, religions, and governments that sanitize, regulate, and criminalize a very normal healthy attribute of human nature; and because they do this, we have aberrant behavior, we have actual rape, we have self harming, addiction and despair. The internalized sexuality shaming has been with us for a very long time. It’s time that we change that. It’s also the way that corporations control us, motivate us to buy things using subliminal sexual messages. If we were sexually liberated, sex would not be a useful method of selling things. We would be far too busy being nude, communing in nature, loving life and each other; to give a shit about shopping for things we dont need.
Please don’t perpetuate stupidity with terms like eye rape. Please don’t shame peoples unique sexual expression. If it’s not for you that's fine, walk away, say no thanks, look elsewhere.
Art is a method for consciousness expansion, and censorship is the opposite.