Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sex in the City

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 8:35 AM

"Private parts" seen in public is just shocking, well ... to some. And considering that many adults refer to parts of the human anatomy by pet names or crude monikers, it's no wonder seeing or discussing them publicly stirs awkward, if not uncomfortable, feelings. But it shouldn't.

If we are too embarrassed or alarmed by the very nature of what makes us the people we are, we are depriving ourselves of understanding our minds, our anatomy and how our bodies work. We are also missing out on understanding a fundamental part of being human that connects us to other fellow beings and to all other people who lived before us.

The generations before us obviously had thoughts of sexual nature. They wrote about them, painted pictures about them, and even graffitied penises on their equivalent of the bathroom stall, smirking at the thought of the person who would find it.

Michaelangelo's David has long been controversial for its detailed depiction of the biblical hero's anatomy. - COURTESY OF THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
  • Michaelangelo's David has long been controversial for its detailed depiction of the biblical hero's anatomy.

"Calling a vulva 'a vagina' is just as ridiculous as calling a penis 'a urethra'", says Kathleen Baldwin, a local sex coach and certified sexuality educator, to a crowd of mostly women who laughed knowingly. In addition to the flowing alcohol (and a couple of aptly named mixed drinks too racy to name here), Talbott Street Nightclub presented an ideal atmosphere for the candid Q&A session for Indianapolis' first installment of the Sex Salon sessions. This session dealt with the topics of sex in the media, dating, hooking up and the way we dress.

Most of us remember how we found out about sex or even the first time we saw a naked body. For many of us, that "sighting" was of art depictions of goddesses or marble statues with their goods chiseled to realistic perfection. The first time I clapped eyes on a nude form was some scantily clad version of Adam and Eve strategically covered with leaves. But thankfully life eventually granted me other opportunities to learn about the human body through the work of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo and my third-grade friend who was generous with his limited drawing skills.

At the Sex Salon, I sat up front with my husband and a few of my friends, including a diverse group of women; different races, countries of origin, religious backgrounds and sexual orientations. We all have in common the fact that our relationship to sex and our bodies has been shaped considerably by the same shame brought upon by misconceptions and lack of education.

click to enlarge One would have to go to great lengths to de-sexualize the Woman of Willendorf, one of dozens of similar figurines made in paleolithic Europe.  - COURTESY OF THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
  • One would have to go to great lengths to de-sexualize the Woman of Willendorf, one of dozens of similar figurines made in paleolithic Europe.

Because we are not alone, the Bloomington Sex Salon has been presenting a monthly community-based speaker series on the topic of sex research, education and advocacy for almost three years. It was funded and is hosted by Dr. Debby Herbenick, an Associate Research Scientist for Indiana University's School of Public Health-Bloomington, in collaboration with the Center for Sexual Health Promotion.

For as long as humans have been making more humans, people have been having sex -- coupling is as much part of the complete human experience as eating and the digestive repertoire that comes after eating. Understanding ourselves and our relationship to sex has also been part of our creative journey and our art history.

This is evidenced in early artworks and depictions of the human figure, where sexual features are emphasized prominently, such as in the cases of The Venus of Willendorf, the paleolithicVulveStylisée and the Mercury frescoes of Pompei. Additionally there is an immense amount of artwork depicting various figures interacting with each other in explicit ways, such as in the cases of the Khajuraho monuments, Japanese Shunga wooden prints, and the famous Marquis de Sade etchings.

Even the Tanakh or Old Testament has a whole book celebrating sexual love. Yet for some reason sex is still a taboo.

click to enlarge Almost 10 percent of the art in the Khajuraho Temples of central India is dedicated to eroticism and sexual themes. - COURTESY OF THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
  • Almost 10 percent of the art in the Khajuraho Temples of central India is dedicated to eroticism and sexual themes.

The first installment in our city was not as highly attended as I would have expected. Perhaps its purpose as fundraiser for the often demonized organization Planned Parenthood was part of the reason, although thankfully there were no protesters in attendance. But as an almost-30-year-old adult woman who has now done her homework, I couldn't help but think that many people I've met throughout my life, and many people who partake in the comment section of our beloved newspapers and publications should have been there.

According to a 2015 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, nearly one in four millennials has had no sex education at all.

And so I am left wondering what can be said through art about a time when the way we relate to each other is increasingly changed by technology. If we are stuck figuring out the basics or reminding people, for example, that the female genitalia exists at all, then when do we move on to explore the more complicated topics?

The next installment of Sex Salon in Indy is yet to be announced, but you can follow Bloomington Sex Salon or Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky on Facebook to stay in the know.

click to enlarge Amid the complex of Khajuraho Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Madhya Pradesh, India, stands the Kama Sutra Temple adorned with intricately sculpted erotic art. - COURTESY OF THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
  • Amid the complex of Khajuraho Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Madhya Pradesh, India, stands the Kama Sutra Temple adorned with intricately sculpted erotic art.
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Speaking of...

  • Gaining Perspective

    A road trip beyond her Hoosier home expands Jennifer’s awareness and provides a new appreciation for its collective cultures and differences.
    • Aug 5, 2015
  • Why Heart Indy?

    Mali chats about ways to improve the communication about Indy’s cultural attractions and solicits readers feedback on why they love their town.
    • Sep 12, 2014
  • As Luck Would Have It

    Put a little dance in your step at the Indy Irish Fest this week. Enjoy the traditions, food and drinks, and fun and games of the Celtic culture.
    • Sep 10, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Well-Endowed Artists

    Jennifer draws Seinfeld-esque parallels to artists' financial challenges with education, but offers easy ways to help.
    • Mar 2, 2016
  • Positive Impressions

    Ben chats with IMA’s artist-in-residence about introducing the process of woodblock printmaking to the masses.
    • Jan 10, 2016

About The Author

Jennifer Delgadillo

Jennifer Delgadillo

Bio:
Jennifer Delgadillo is an artist who lives on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis where she enjoys making art, writing, reading magazines, and drinking wine with her husband and her neighbors. Her work is eclectic and ranges from doing diabetes research to cooking brunch on Sundays at Tlaolli. She writes regularly... more

More by Jennifer Delgadillo

  • Well-Endowed Artists

    Jennifer draws Seinfeld-esque parallels to artists' financial challenges with education, but offers easy ways to help.
    • Mar 2, 2016
  • Happy Holidays

    The aesthetics of this holiday season offers plenty of reasons to celebrate.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • Sweet 15

    Jennifer learns about the local quinceañera culture -- how time and place changes the traditions of this celebration of young women.
    • Nov 26, 2015
  • More »

Latest in Sky Blue Blog

  • The Nice Things

    Ben has enjoyed his opportunity to give notice to some of Indy’s 'nice things' with Sky Blue Window readers. He hopes you’ll find and share them too.
    • Mar 9, 2016
  • A Gray Sky-onara

    Dan looks back at some of his most memorable blogs at Sky Blue Window.
    • Mar 8, 2016
  • Well-Endowed Artists

    Jennifer draws Seinfeld-esque parallels to artists' financial challenges with education, but offers easy ways to help.
    • Mar 2, 2016
  • More »
© 2017 CICF
Twitter
Facebook
Privacy Policy
Contact Us:
P: 317.634.2423   F: 317.684.0943
info@skybluewindow.org
Central Indiana Community Foundation
615 N. Alabama St. #119
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-1431
Sky Blue Window is presented by:

Website powered by Foundation