Are you CLITERATE?

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Whether it’s through the 2000 to 5000 advertisements you see in a day, the limited expectations others and even you have for yourself, or the stereotypical roles women play in movies and tv, almost any time you interact with the world you encounter a global obsession with sexualizing the female body.  This obsession is typically told from a heterosexual male perspective in which the woman is not a sexual being, but a sexual object.  Her body is a means to his end, and her pleasure is hardly considered. In fact, it wasn’t until 1998 that researchers actually discovered the size and scope of the clitoris. In response to this discrepancy, Sophia Wallace created a project addressing female body sovereignty and the construction of otherness through text-based objects, unauthorized street installation, and interactive sculpture forms. She called this project CLITERACY.

CLITERACY, 100 Natural Laws, 2012 is mixed media project that explores a paradox;  the global obsession with sexualizing female bodies in a world that is illiterate when it comes to female sexuality. CLITERACY is a new way of talking about citizenship, sexuality, human rights, and bodies. The project reveals the – phallic as neutral – bias in science, law, philosophy, politics, mainstream and even feminist discussion, and the art world – which is so saturated with the female body as subject. Using text as form, CLITERACY explores the construction of female sexual bodies as passive vehicles of reception defined by lack. It confronts a false body of knowledge by scientists who have resisted the idea of a unique, autonomous female body and rather studied what confirmed their assumption that women’s anatomy was the inverse of male anatomy, and that reproduction was worthy of study, while female sexuality was most certainly not. In the last ten years there have been tremendous scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of the clitoris. The clitoris is exponentially larger and more complex than commonly thought. What we think of as the clitoris, is only the tip of the iceberg.  While this discovery is shocking in its late arrival, the problem of global ILLCLITERACY is a salient allegory into the bigger problem of a female body, both cis and trans female, constructed with false information and a greater goal of control within culture that defines femaleness as inferior and female sexual organs as taboo. CLITERACY builds upon my photographic practice and ongoing exploration of how power shapes knowledge, often through use of the visual, for the purpose of reifying hierarchy.

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