Images courtesy of the author.
**WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES**
Last Saturday I spent my evening looking at hundreds of dick pics amongst hundreds of strangers. “I Didn’t Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics” was a night of art, charity, drinks, dancing, and dicks. Lots and lots (and lots) of dicks. Prior to attending this event, I was under the impression it was a small art show featuring the sexual absurdist drawings of Napa based artist, Porous Walker. His work ranges from simplistic drawings of a man performing cunnilingis with the words, “Rule #343 Every time it’s Sunday do this for AT LEAST 2 hours and 29 minutes,” to a giant penis falling onto a man’s face with the words “This happens.” Although Porous Walker’s work was included, my impression was wrong. There was much more content than I expected.
Whitney Bell, the badass, brilliant activist and curator of “I Didn’t Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics” teamed up with Happy Period, a charity that provides menstrual products to the homeless. If you donated a box of tampons, which I did, you got a free drink, which I did (and it had grapefruit La Croix as a mixer… can you say amazing?!).
Anyway, it gets even better. My ticket to get into the event was a condom that had the phrase, “condoms prevent minivans” written on the wrapper. At that point I wasn’t even inside and I was already wondering how I was somehow cool enough to be here. The first piece I saw when I walked in was a series of short paragraphs written on a giant white wall. They read, “Hey beautiful, how are you? Where are you going? I’M FUCKING TALKING TO YOU BITCH!… Her inboxes fill with angry men, their throbbing cocks, their slurs, threats, and claims that she was ‘asking for it…’ An empowered woman is a dangerous woman, because a woman who can say yes is also a woman who can say no.” I immediately realized this gallery show meant much more than a night of laughing at strange penises while drinking free vodka a La Croix. Rather, the show was acted as a voice that speaks up, demands respect, and retaliates against harassment and violence directed at women.
Although I’ve never received an undesired dick pic paired with a violent tinder message, the images and messages along the walls sparked an important, universal conversation about how it feels to be objectified as women and to have our boundaries violated by certain men in their aggressive pursuits for power. I felt safe engaging in girl chats about mutual experiences in a place that felt like a dear friend’s living room, thanks to Bell, who decorated the entire space with furniture and personal items from her own home.
Not only were the art pieces relatable and intentional, but they were also incredibly empowering. Framed texts along the walls exclaiming, “I know, I know I’m standing up for myself. I am such a bitch!” and, “It shouldn’t have to be happening to you for it to matter,” reminded me that it’s okay to be angry, and I am allowed to say so. And, most importantly, I’m allowed to laugh at a framed photograph of a penis being compared to the size of a Rockstar energy drink.