Misogyny has been prevalent in the art world. Within the art world, men continue to outsell and out-auction art made by women. On top of that, have you noticed how a woman’s body is always up for discussion and critique? But what about men? Therefore, artists, such as Jen Stein, Anna Joan Taylor, and Judith Bernstein, responded to the misogyny, sexism, and objectification that women face through dick-art.
Misogyny in the art-world
Sociologist Taylor Whitten Brown conducted data for The Art Market 2019 that confirmed gender inequality amongst works sold and auctioned. She writes that works “by female artists comprise a small share of major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe, while at auction, women’s artworks sell for a significant discount compared with men’s. Only two works by women have ever broken into the top 100 auction sales for paintings, despite women being the subject matter for approximately half of the top 25.” Below, the graph supports this information as the data shows men’s artworks being sold consistently higher than that of women’s.
How does Jen Stein respond to misogyny and sexism? With dicks! Jen Stein utilizes dildos to de-stigmatize the expression of sexuality and the objectification of women. Despite the nudity of women being a consistent subject matter of art, women’s bodies are nonetheless shamed, objectified, and sexualized. As a result, Stein uses dildos as a tool to destabilize the heteropatriarchy and “decentralizing the D” as written in her Instagram bio. With bright, colorful, and artful dildos being at the front and center of her posts, she artistically normalizes the sexual expression of women. Her art directly speaks to the fact that one’s sexuality should not be hidden, whispered, or kept secret, rather it should be looked at as normal, natural and beautiful.
Anna Joan Taylor
Like Stein’s work, Anna Joan Taylor addresses the stigmas of sexuality through her creations of ceramic butt plugs and dildos to further the conversation about sexual freedom, expression, and fluidity. In an interview with Playboy, Taylor expresses the importance of drawing “on the decorative as it is tied to feminist labor and movements…. the decorative, for me, plays far more seriously into female and femme expression, a history of women being relegated to the decorative arts as their only means of artistic outlet.” This can be seen through their incorporations of animal-like elements such as suckers and tentacles that promote a “radically gender-nonconforming” future as written in one of their posts.
Lastly, Judith Bernstein draws and paints dicks to subvert sexism and draw attention to corrupt and exploitative male figures in power. If a certain ex-president comes to mind, you’re on the same page with Bernstein! In a 2017 exhibition named Judith Bernstein, Cabinet of Horrors, the artist included a fluorescent painting labeled “President” that illustrated Trump’s face as a dick with his body being that of a woman’s. Sitting spread eagle with a dick for a nose and two hairy balls for a face, Bernstein makes it known to her audience that he is the biggest dick in the country.
All three artists use the dick as a tool to address misogyny, sexism, sexual expression, and well, dicks. Though all the artists listed utilize dick-art, they address a variety of overlapping issues through different artistic disciplines. And these principles are setting a precedent for other artists to follow in their footsteps.
Featured photo: Jen Stein