I Didn't Ask for This

posted June 28, 2017

Whitney Bell -- a self-proclaimed hawker of GRL PWR goodies, intersectional feminist bitch, and abortion storyteller -- invited Team Exhale to her inaugural San Francisco exhibition of "I Didn’t Ask for This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics". While we were aware that the exhibit was bigger than a dick pics display, little did we know that it would stimulate such rich, and provocative dialogue around a very common, lived reality for many of us.

The exhibit hosted 1,200 attendants -- with the show having to be extended another day -- and over 150, very, unsolicited dick pics. The exhibit was displayed to to look like a home, providing a clear visual of the physical locations where women are accosted by these pictures. Conveying that even in our own private, supposedly safe spaces, we are still subject to sexual harassment.

The artistry and extensiveness of the exhibit was extraordinary. Pictures ranged from dicks set in contrast to remote controls, to one proudly placed right smack in the middle of a piece of toast with strawberry jam (with the dick also covered in said jam). The discomfort and weight of understanding that all of these pictures were unsolicited, often sent with messages of vitriol, was palpable amongst the audience. To say that the exhibit was just about snickering at dick pics is far too simplistic, just as we know that abortion in the US is not simply a medical procedure. As Whitney Bell stated: “because as every woman knows, harassment isn’t about sex -- it’s about power.”

This exhibit displayed the very much lived reality of a woman who dares to use the internet, who writes for her profession, who as Bell describes lives in “a world that tells you in order to avoid harassment, you must avoid your life.” Congratulations Whitney, for making space for dialogue and for the reclamation of agency!

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