Friday, October 8, 2010

You like it WHERE?


“...it makes gender specific sex fodder for humour, which is where I get my knickers in a knot."

A new viral campaign on Facebook has been gaining momentum, resulting in updates from women to the tune of “I like it on the kitchen counter” and “I like it on the floor beside the bed.” Personally, I used to be indifferent but now I prefer the latter. For any gentlemen still in the dark, these comments refer to handbags, not hand…er, you can probably guess what I was going to write. One can’t help but imagine female friends in the act as a result of these naughty sounding status updates, reminding us of the power of visualization (which interests me as an artist because it reinforces the power of the visual).

As a feminist artist, I’m obviously interested in female power but I dare say this campaign wields none of any consequence. Although its predecessor (January’s bra colour updates) expressed some semblance of girl power by rationalizing itself with an apparent goal of bringing attention to breast cancer, this campaign makes no such claim. In fact, the Facebook message chiding women to participate uses as its incentive the fact that the previous viral campaign made it into the news. May I point out that not all content in the news is newsworthy? A cow on the loose made it into my hometown paper recently. Enough said.

On the surface, the updates seem like an empowering and fun form of sharing female sexuality à la Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha in Sex and the City. Ultimately, though, there’s no meaningful disclosure (except of details that might interest burglars on a tight schedule). It actually underscores society’s lack of openness about sexuality. Plus, it makes gender specific sex fodder for humour, which is where I get my knickers in a knot. Like the bra colour updates, this campaign titillates men by being coy. It seems to aim to even the score with locker-room-style commentary. It makes me wonder, what would be the reaction if men started a similarly covert campaign to state where they like their wallet at the end of the day? Surely they'd be chastised. Or maybe they’d seem prudish in comparison (“I like to keep it in my pants”).

Perhaps what really bothers me is the interchangeability of a purse for female sexuality, adding an element of commoditization. It’s just another way that women’s bodies and sexuality are consumed and it doesn’t make it palatable to this writer just because the woman is the seller.