March 3, 2021
A Woman’s Right to Pleasure is a new compendium celebrating female erotic art. We meet its contributors, including the photographer who turned her vagina into a camera
During the darkest days of the Trump presidency, writer Alexandra Weiss and her colleagues at the Black Book gallery in New York decided to address an issue that felt increasingly pressing. For centuries, women’s sexuality had been seen as a subject for men to pick over, the man in charge at the White House being the most prominent recent offender. But there was no shortage of examples, from L’Origine du Monde, Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting of a woman parting her legs invitingly, to Alfred Kinsey’s revelatory 1953 report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.
It seemed a potent time to celebrate women’s perspectives on sexuality instead. Reproductive rights were under threat: among other things, the Trump administration had banned taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for terminations. Exploring women’s sexual pleasure in words and images, says Weiss, felt like “an act of resistance. Why not now? With social media, women have felt more comfortable talking about their bodies, but pleasure is often left out of the conversation.”