The First Amendment and Betty Dodson's genital art
photo via erix!
We admit, genital art isn’t really our thing. We’ve seen our share at downtown art shows (and, ahem, on our own TV show in the U.K.), and, while we’re glad that people are out there creating work like this, we don’t have any hanging on our walls.
That said, we totally, absolutely, 100% understand how important genital art is in helping both women and men understand what sex organs really look like outside of the porn world. As porn increasingly becomes a source of sex education, and as women feel pressured to dye, bleach, and pluck their way to the perfect look — or even, god forbid, go under the knife to get it via labiaplasty — images of real, average vulvas become more important than ever.
Which is why we’re disappointed on behalf of average vulva-owners everywhere — in particular those vulva-owners who think their own vulva are sub-par — that Betty Dodson has been forced to remove her Genital Art Gallery from her website due to a revised regulation stipulating that all genital imagery be subject to the same rules as the entertainment industry. (Meaning, all published submissions must be accompanied by a signed release and a copy of the vulva-owner’s driver’s license — a great idea when it comes to protecting porn stars, but a not-so-great idea when it comes to sex education materials.) The whole point of Betty Dodson’s project was that it was anonymous — and so her research project, which has helped women everywhere feel better about their bits, has come to an end.
Now Dodson — along with other brilliant minds in the biz, including our friend Carol Queen and photographer/writer David Steinberg, as well as the The American Society of Media Photographers and the Free Speech Coalition — are challenging the regulation as unconstitutional, overbroad and over-burdensome. They hope the case will be heard in early 2010 — watch this space.