cunty and carefree
Not all women have vulvas, but all vulvas are censored.
My instinctual response to injustice is art. Art makes the world more beautiful, while making a statement. I initially had the idea of the Cunt Sweater in early-2016, back when I hoped Trump’s candidacy was an expansive performance art piece rather than a legitimate threat. I wanted to make art with an easily recognizable symbol for vulvas. Female and femme bodies are constantly objectified and sexualized to use as marketing tools, but casual depictions of vulvas are few and far between. In fact, most people incorrectly refer to the vulva as the “vagina,” which is only one part of the organ. I began making screen printed samples, but ultimately decided the idea was most powerful when knit. There was something so delightful about pairing knitting–an activity typically associated with demure, elderly women–with depictions of censored sex organs.
I’ve long been a fan of reclaiming cunt. As Katie J.M. Baker wrote, “‘Cunt’ isn’t scientific, it’s erotic. “Cunt” doesn’t refer to a baby cat or a treasure chest. It conveys purposeful sexual power, not submission. It’s mature. Women get called cunts when they reject sexual advances and assert themselves in the workplace; in other words, when they don’t play nice.” What better term to describe a piece intended to combat misogyny. It is affronting and direct; everyone knows to which part of the body you are referring.
I paired the sweater with a kilt to represent the schoolgirl aesthetic. Sexualization starts young, and the female ideal pressures women to look like young girls forever. From having wrinkle-free skin to a completely hairless body, the Eurocentric female beauty ideal is that of a girl. In a sense, the male gaze create an ideal that is a sexualization of pre-pubescent bodies with breasts. I embrace my body–hair and all–and the Cunt Sweater reflects that.
I believe in sharing power and making art for social change. The Cunt Sweater is available to order, and proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood. For inquiries and orders, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
**The Cunt Sweater is abstract and does not accurately illustrate a vulva. For a scientific explanation, I recommend visiting this Planned Parenthood page.
Photos: Mary C. Shiffer
Styling, makeup, sweater: T. Sydney Bergeron Mikus
January 19, 2017