The Geometries of Pleasure
Three years ago I volunteered to be part of a group discussion with over thirty 20-30 year old women sharing perspectives on love, dating, and sexual quandaries and triumphs. This room is how I got involved with an upcoming documentary called “Dilemma of Desire,” produced by the same production company who gave us “Hoop Dreams” and “Minding the Gap.” This was the first time I heard so many women openly talking about sex, their bodies, and pleasure. What. The. Hell. Why were these topics so taboo and wrapped in shame for so long? Why in the world did it take me so long to recognize and vocalize that “I’m not sure I’ve ever climaxed before.” It’s because the very symbol from which these topics stem is too often rendered invisible.
The clitoris is not a reproductive organ – it’s solely for pleasure so it’s not commonly taught, talked about or even visualized. [we know about the patriarchy yes? I happen to think of it every time one of those public bathroom soap dispensers ejaculates foam in my hand, hbu?] In March of 2019 I was exhibiting six new paintings at the International Museum of Surgical Science. I asked nearly a hundred grown-ass men and women to draw the clitoris. I asked because before I got involved with “Dilemma of Desire” I didn’t know the clitoris was an entire organ with 8,000 nerve endings (twice as many as the penis), and that the exposed tip of the clitoris is about 1/5 (or less) of the whole organ. When I arrived at the museum, I looked through their anatomy books and I couldn’t find the clitoris in the indexes. And so these grownass men and women were literally drawing abstractions of dots and waves and even just writing, “it’s not the penis,” because the common erasure of the clitoris has perpetuated a mystique around female sexual pleasure and how it operates. But when we accurately understand our bodies and ourselves as sexual beings, there is more equality among all of us.
Even with my generally open-minded and sexually-liberal upbringing, I never learned about the clitoris as thoroughly as I learned about male genitalia [cue foam ejaculating]. And I couldn’t have been the only one. Due to a mass cultural obfuscation, I misunderstood my own body, thus my own capacity for pleasure. Our capacity for pleasure and eroticism is directly linked to other areas of our life. Audre Lorde says it best: “The erotic is … an internal sense of satisfaction which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.” So no big deal, but the recognition of female pleasure and sexuality is lichrully a pathway to liberation and equality.
Rebecca is a Chicago-based producer, curator, performer and visual artist. Beginning at age eleven she was trained in the classical tradition of oils, watercolors and pastels. She has participated in intensive studio art and art history programs in Florence, Rome, London, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She has studied at the Art Students League of New York, The Glasgow School of Art, and The Chicago Mosaic School. She has taught After School Matters and has spearheaded multiple large-scale mosaic collaborations with kindergarten through high school classes. As a Studio Manager and Conceptual Designer for artist David Wallace Haskins, she helped prepare a groundbreaking solo show at the Elmhurst Art Museum. She has been applying her traditional art background to the contemporary music scene of Chicago. While she was Artistic Curator at The Den Theatre, she produced and curated the original monthly music series DIN AT THE DEN, elevating emerging musicians with her artistic direction. She is currently the full time Music Program Curator at Uncommon Ground, reimagining how people will listen to music at this established venue. The past three years she has been a subject of the upcoming documentary “Dilemma of Desire” which investigates the fallacies about sexuality and desire that stem from the mass invisibility of the clitoris. Rebecca envisions spaces, events, and visuals that allow people to feel more connected to themselves and to a diverse community.