Is Women’s Pleasure Forsaken or Taboo?

Throughout my studies as an art major who is minoring in Women Studies, I have analyzed other people’s experiences and reflected on my own. I came to the conclusion that a common theme seems to be: repressed women’s sexuality. I wanted to comment on the gendered oppression of sexuality, and how turning the light off tends to make some comfortable – because when the lights are off, women can seek their forbidden pleasure (Sexual pleasure!); no one can judge what they can’t see, right?

But as FKA Twigs says, “when I trust you, we can do it with the lights on”.

Shayla Hickerson, The Fall of (Wo)Man, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 4 x 4 ft

After I spent a month of interviewing, examining, illustrating, and painting other people, I realized I wasn’t documenting my own experiences. I was asking my family and friends questions based on gender, identity and their perceived social pressures, but I wasn’t answering those questions myself.

And so! I began to think about my experience as female.

I began to think about how people treat me a certain way because they look at how I present myself, and they assume that my gender matches my biological sex. Similarly, my feminine presentation dictates how I will be treated in intimate settings. Typically, women are pressured to suppress their sexual needs. Their role is to tend to the needs of their man. Their position is on their knees, and as Michelangelo portrays it in his painting (The Fall of Man), she’s about 90 degrees away from finishing him off.

Although Michelangelo’s masterpiece is considerably sexualized, I wanted to overtly sexualize the imagery. I want to expose the forsaken female pleasure.


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