What's now a weekend filled with art installations, exhibitions, live DJs, panels, blowjob workshops, dildo painting, and sex toy distribution within a 3,500 square foot recreation of a woman's home started with receiving one simple dick pic.
"I’d been sent a really beautiful picture of the shadow of a dick and showed it to my friend, as you do. He said, 'That dick is so beautiful it should be in a museum,' and something just clicked," says Whitney Bell, the creator of I Didn't Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics and a self-proclaimed "dick pic artist, activist, and feminist bitch."
I Didn't Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics (Censored)
"I instantly realized I wanted to create a gallery of dick pics that would mirror my exhaustion with the constant harassment that women are expected to silently endure," she says. "I quickly realized how relatable this content is to all women and femmes, whether it’s specifically a dick pic or a holler on the street, or sexual harassment in the workplace. We have all experienced something. We have all been made to feel unsafe."
Venus Libido (Censored)
And that's exactly what she did. I Didn't Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics consisted of a wall of hundreds of framed, unsolicited dick pics hung above a bed in a recreation of Bell's home. Now, it's evolved from a one-night art show into a weekend-long festival of sorts, celebrating consent and positive sexuality, and condemning harrassment in all forms.
The show is not a condemnation of the penis, which Bell clearly punctuates. "This show isn’t about dick pics, or the men who send them," she says. "This is about the systematic violence and harassment that women face everyday. It is about empowering women to take a stand, and it is about educating men."
It also does not presume to say whether or not a gay man receiving a dick pic on, say, Grindr, is the same as a woman receiving one completely unsolicited.
"People of all sexualities and genders of course experience sexual intimidation and coercion," she says. "My intent is not to lessen that in any way, but rather to highlight the the overwhelming issue of heterosexual harassment inflicted upon women."
The latest iteration of the show will take place in Los Angeles October 6 and 7 at Think Tank Gallery (tickets are still available here, but hurry, it's selling out fast). The event will feature dick pic galleries, as well as a variety of panelists, including talks with model/activist Emily Sears, feminist porn star Sovereign Syre, and activist Ericka Hart. There will be artwork on display from more than 30 visual artists, live tattoo sessions, and DJ sets by the likes of Madame Gahndi and Anna Bulbrook.
Still not enough? There's also workshops on blowjobs and vulva love, selected text conversations posted from the anti-harrassment Instagram page Bye Felipe, and a brand partnership with Doc Johnson, the largest sex toy manufacturer in America. (Yes, that naturally means a photo booth with 200 dildos in it and a vending machine for vibrators).
Bell now runs the pro-inclusion, feminist retail site Kidd Bell, a site "about unapologetic empowerment, about showing the bigots where you stand, and about reclaiming the words that have been used to tear us down."
She also has big plans for the future of A Lifetime of Dick Pics: "There has even been talk of a book," she says. "We are currently looking for corporate sponsorship to take the show on tour - to make it 3 days, to add even more panels, workshops, live music, and artwork. We want this to become a new kind of feminist festival, one that any person feels comfortable attending, one that opens up discussion and encourages education in a non-judgemental way. The success of the show is indicative of the fact that its content is relatable to so many, which proves its necessity."
For more information follow @kidd.bell on Instagram.