The V-bag Edition, 2014-2015

Detail from Untitled: The V-Bag Edition

The V-Bag Edition

The question regarding the role of non-reproductive sex, the state and the law underpins the controlling mechanisms of governmental bodies and legislation. These are often determined by norms and standards of many countries and includes most democratic spaces.

Sexual freedoms on the other hand, which appear not to lie within these controlling mechanisms are predisposed to a considerable extent by society itself. So, how does society determine these restrictions or conditions by which we engage (or not engage), sexually? And what then is the role of society in placing restrictions on individuals who engage in sexual activity? Society determines when it is best to engage in sex, how we do so and with whom. In a contemporary society still, women are mostly recipients of sexual advances and men predatory by nature. A travesty for both women and men caught up in this game where there are too many victims. It is obvious then that with these constraints, we are not ourselves, but rather ‘products’ of our society. Dworkin in the eighties, (Dworkin: 1987) referred to the act of sex as “a form of violence” and “stopping short of violence”. She was, of course very unpopular and viewed then as a man-hater. Perhaps she could be forgiven when we consider that rape is high on the list of traumatic crimes where women are the primary victims. Rape is seldom about sexuality (Gqola: 2015), yet if we consider that sexuality is not only about enjoyment and opportunities for procreation and has been throughout the ages about power, control and pleasure, Dworkin may not have been terribly wrong.

Before we can engage on ideas of freedom in sexuality and sexual practise, we must examine society’s notions of freedom and patriarchy, which underpins our society and by virtue of which, our sexualities.  We must also consider social and cultural imperatives that shape our world and take a closer look at our personal attitudes towards sexuality and by extension, attitudes in our communities. When male sexuality with its core content of objectification as a basis for sexual arousal is not part of a ‘’public and truthful discourse’’, (Stoltenberg: 1989), it is rendered to the space of sacred taboo even now in more contemporary spaces. How then are we to engage in meaningful transitioning of our attitudes to sexuality if we cannot bring into the conversation that which describes about fifty percent (50%) of the world’s population?  

Oftentimes, it’s the ‘ordinary’ person that upholds the status quo to the extent that while something may hurt us, we will keep it in place because ‘it’s always been that way’. The idea that each person has agency and can make a difference is foremost in the quest for change. Davis, in her talk on How does social change happen?, indicates that “ordinary people (became) collectively aware of themselves as potential agents for social change as holding within their collective hands the power to create a new world.” (Davis. A: 2008)  

 As these ‘’agents for social change’’, we are mostly unconscious[1] about the power we possess as ordinary people, to make things happen. Women who are possessed of much power in their societal roles as daughters, sisters, friends, wives and lovers, and as ‘those who give birth to new life’, have had ideas about what is appropriate branded into their psyche after many years of repetitive indoctrination and socialising. These ideas remind us constantly that we are supposed to be second; that others make decisions for us; and that we are to accept advances made to us and accept things done to us. We are not to be aggressors as to be assertive would be wrong and aggressive and unladylike. It’s almost imperceptible when this happens.

The V-Bag Edition makes tangible the concept of ownership in the form of a ‘bag sculptural form’ – that encapsulates desire and control of that desire as well as, ‘the desirable site’. It alludes not only to her fecundity, but her sexual prowess as well. Embedded within each bag is a mini-sized sculpture or ‘secret moment’ that fits in the hand. It is attached inside to the base of the bag by a press-stud. The sculpture-in-the-hand can be removed, finding intimate connection with its owner during the day; when she feels she needs reminding. Reminding, nurturing, connecting to the essence of the feminine – her fullness; her sexuality; her potential for pleasure, sexual and/or nurturing fulfillment and joy. Notions of secrecy, which may have been a necessity in the past finds its way in contemporaneity – a contemporary space, where little is left to the imagination and is now an evocative intention tittering on the edges of revealing and concealing. The owner has full control. Sexuality redefined. Take it back.

[1] Freud’s reference to the unconscious as opposed to not conscious 

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