I am beginning a new photographic project that deals with women and their personal relationship with sex. I am looking for models/contributors for this new work.
But first a little background…
It started with a question that arrived in my 40th year. How had what I was taught as a girl about sex impacted my sex life and my intimate relationships?
I remember when I was considered old enough to attract sexual attention, sometime around the age of 12 or 13, being told to be careful. That I had something that boys and men wanted and some would stop at nothing to try to get it from me.
This was different from the early lessons I was taught by my parents about sex. That it was something that happened between two people in love. That it was something very beautiful and very private.
This once beautiful, private thing became something public and dangerous. Something that was mine to protect yet somehow not my own at all. My sexuality now had a sort of universal ownership between those who wanted to protect it and those, as I was warned, who wanted to consume it.
What happens when someone takes ownership of that which is uniquely and privately your own? Whether it is out of concern and care or for selfish intent, how does this act of taking sculpt, transform, or alter the thing that was supposed to be yours to define?
What happened for me, as I have recently realized, was that initially, I understood sex as a thing I could bestow upon others. And, that ultimately sex was the most valuable thing I had to give over all other parts of myself. It was a way to be validated. This not only created a very limited view of myself as an individual person outside of my sexuality, it also complicated the potential for participating in the mutual, unifying aspects of sex. It forced my partners to be, in my mind, hunters while I assumed the role of either benevolent gifter or cruel withholder of sex.
These beliefs infringed on my desires for casual sexual encounters also. I had heard over and over that women were biologically incapable of sex without emotional attachment while men were more prone to pursue sex without the need for love. It seemed I somehow wasn’t built to desire sex simply for the act itself or if I did it was unnatural.
Even in marriage, where I have found a loving and balanced partnership, these early notions of hunter and prey and of emotional attachment and detachment occasionally resurface and attempt to infiltrate my sex life.
The details on how you can take part…
I am curious to learn how other women living within American culture (be they cis, trans or gender fluid) have been impacted by what they have been taught about sex and their own sexuality.
I would like to hear your candid stories. The good, the bad, the messy. I would then like to illustrate your story in a photographic portrait. My hope is that I can collect a diverse selection of experiences and photographs that emote and reveal how outside forces often stemming from social and cultural constructs surrounding female sexuality influence our most intimate, personal and important relationships and in some ways shape the female experience.
The photographs will be done in the style of my previous self-portraits using staged imagery and personal metaphors and symbols. I would love for your contribution in this project both through the sharing of your experience and with you as the model in the photo that I will create to tell your story. However, if you prefer to remain anonymous we can either mask your identity in the portrait or use another model as a stand in for you.
Though this project is in its beginning stages, once completed I plan to use the portraits and the accompanying stories in public art exhibitions and most likely in the form of publication through print and online media.