I’m writing this two days after receiving a message from someone in the middle of the night telling me they were masturbating to my favourite album. I was accused by this person, who I don’t know well, of being an understanding and relatable person, sexually. The insinuation was that because of my art, I am open to discussing sex and sexuality at any time of the day or night, which, in some ways, is true. However, I have been at the receiving end of many, many unsolicited sexual messages, justified by the argument that I share my body willingly on the internet, so I must be open to sharing my sexual energy with just about anyone.
Sex is not a sacrament to me. I don’t believe you have to be in love with someone to have sex, or that you need to have sex with everyone you’re in love with. The fundamental principles of sex to me are: consent, intuition, enthusiasm and compassion. Bodies are weird, bodies are sexy, bodies are autonomous, but when we have sex, we are sharing this weird, sexy, autonomous body with someone (or two, or three, or …) else. Yes, it’s true (and plainly obvious by now, I’m sure) I love sex. I love reading another person’s body with my body, I love kissing while being fucked, I love the feeling of longing, the dissolution of sexual tension, another person’s pleasure synchronising with mine.
But I don’t give myself away sexually through my art. I do believe that fucking is art and masturbation is a creative tool I use a lot, often joking that my clit is a medium for my poetry, but there is so much of my sexual life that I will never share with anyone who I am not in a sexual relationship with. Sex is not an uncomfortable topic for me, but does that mean I want to talk about it with everyone? No. This should go without saying, but just because I am naked in my art does not mean I want to fuck everyone who sees it. Do I care if my art makes you cum? Well, yes. Actually, I hope it does. But don’t make it my problem. You cannot extract consent from a two-dimensional image, just because you can see something does not mean you have access to it. Contrary to the messages I receive and the negative feedback I receive about my artistic practice, I do not hop into bed with everyone. I would go on to write a treatise about my personal sexual practices, but I do not owe you my sex life just because you can see my tits.
I love to talk about my art with people, and I’m open to discussing and answering questions about it, any time. I am also not dead, I love a good old fashioned compliment. But, let’s practice consent! Let’s read the room! Let’s not use my art as an avenue to try and sleep with me!
I am a survivor of sexual violence. The details of that are irrelevant to my experience since. I will not be discussing them here. Taking off my clothes, touching my body, sharing my yearning and accessing my sexual self through art is fucking liberating to me. I get a piece of my body back every time I make art like this and the pride I feel, looking at myself experiencing pleasure is second to nothing. I see my body, I hear myself moan and all I can think is fuck yes. That is mine. Being naked in art and being naked in bed with someone I want to fuck are two completely different limbs of my sexual life.
In a lot of ways, Locust feels like the final frontier of my erotic art practice. I live firmly by the belief that nothing is ever set in stone, but I feel like I no longer have to take my clothes off on the internet, at least not for a while. I think I’ve said all I needed to with this piece. Watching it back, I think, that body is mine. I’ve recently made a personal discovery that I someday want to be monogamous, probably. But even then, my body will belong to me, and my artistic practice is not linked to polyamory, therefore I am not coming onto you by sharing my art. My body belongs deeply to me. My erotic art practice and my sex life cannot be divorced completely but they are not conflated publicly. They exist as twins only inside of me. A lot of feminist art revolves around the idea of making the private public. The image of the bed in feminist art symbolizes everything from illness, intimacy, devastation, madness, repressed desire, queer identity, and death. With Locust, I invite people to view me in my bed, but not to get into it with me (okay, maybe the person I wrote the poem about, but no one else!)