In years past I have been a serious devotee of the Sex Worker\’s Art Show. Now I\’m feeling somewhat out of sorts with it, simply because of one thing which seems so trite, even to me.
When I was doing the Visions in Feminism conference, after the first year we received some flack because the icon that was used for the logo (I don\’t know who made it, it was already the logo when I came on board) featured an outline of a woman who looked white, able bodied, and had a trim body. We were accused of being discriminatory with the logo. From most perspectives I understand where the accusations were coming from, but then if you look at the people who were behind the conference, most of us were young (certainly all under 35), none of us were in wheel chairs or on arm supports, we all had four limbs, many of us had eating disorders/body image issues, and almost all of us were white women who had been raised in the suburbs. Nearly all of us had bachelor degrees in women\’s studies (not me, obviously). Man made God in his image, and all that jazz, which I realize is harmful, but unless you want to look like a McDonalds commercial, desperately trying to fit in people of all types but only succeeding in capturing middle class appeal, what can you do except look like a fool? You can\’t please everyone; even non-gendered stick figures are offensive. For our second year we settled on a logo without any imagery at all, just the letters ViF. That logo was considered too cold. The logo for the third year, if I remember correctly, had something to do with a tree or sun rays or some such thing, which I thought looked too \’60s-era hippie bright positiveness. See, there is no happy medium.
What does this have to do with the Sex Worker\’s Art Show? Well, I understand where they are coming from. You want your ad copy to look appealing. You want to capture the eye and draw people in. Designers who make flyers and web sites and the like tend to prefer clean, bold lines. Aesthetics are of one fairly uniform orientation. All that being said, the design for 2005\’s SWAS is really getting my panties in a wad. I don\’t know who designed it, but I would like to find out. The people who are touring with the show this year, and the artists whose work is being presented — and indeed, the people who have been involved in years past — generally do not fit the imagery of the woman pictured at all. It looks like a classic strip show ad, which I know is kind of the point, but I thought part of the purpose of the SWAS was to convey that most of the workers are not buying into the idea of being a skinny girl in stylish tight jeans and long, straight hair. Now I\’m confused, and a little disheartened. Not to mention continuing to feel like feminism has made it incredibly hard to just enjoy some things for what they are, and to think of hypothetical conclusions that have a basis in feminist academia but not necessarily in the experience I am witnessing.