The prestigious Carnegie Mellon University hosted a graphic event featuring genitalia and masturbation as part of its annual gender conference.
“Finger Painting: An Arts-Based Investigation of Masturbation” was intended to discuss the relationship between masturbation and gender. According to the description of the workshop, the event sought to answer questions such as, “What does your gender look like when you’re the only person you’re trying to please? What does your sex look like? Pleasure? How does the sanctity of masturbation allow you to explore and destroy gender-based stereotypes of sex, sexuality, and sensuality?”
The workshop would “examine and discuss these stereotypes and the ways in which we break them through the consumption of art focusing on masturbation and ‘self-love.’”
Prospective attendees were informed the workshop “will include media content depicting genitalia and/or the act of masturbation or coming to orgasm.” The audience was also restricted to 20 people.
Cavanaugh Quick, the “Finger Painting: An Arts-Based Investigation of Masturbation” presenter, spoke to The Daily Caller about his presentation.
“My presentation was based on my theory that masturbation and self-pleasure can allow people to examine their gender identities in ways that they cannot access when partners are involved,” Quick said. “Consciously and unconsciously, people associate specific sexual practices with specific gender identities and sexualities, and when they engage in partnered sex those associations often directly affect the things they are willing to do or try based on the gender they are performing for their partner.”
Quick elaborated, “An example of this is pegging or anal play in heterosexual men. Being penetrated anally is seen as something that is closely tied to homosexuality (specifically the ‘feminine’ partner acting as the receiver) or fetishized as an expression of submission from a heterosexual man to his female partner. What happens when that man is masturbating alone, though? If he chooses to penetrate himself but isn’t taking on what’s constructed as a submissive or feminine role for someone else, what does it do to his understanding of his own gender?”
The presenter incorporated different kinds of artwork in his presentation, including films, comics, and animation-style prints.
One of the videos Quick included in his presentation is from the Hysterical Literature series by Clayton Cubitt. The series features women “receiving stimulation” while reading selections out loud from books.
Another video that was used in the presentation was Marina Abramović’s reenactment of Vito Acconci’s “Seedbed.” “The piece involves the artist hiding themselves away in a public space [for Acconci it was the Sonnabend Gallery, for Abromovic [sic] the Guggenheim] and masturbating while amplified by a microphone. Viewers walk through the space while being able to hear but not see any of the actions.”
The piece that Quick finds most important to his presentation is Fabio Lopes’s “Diptico Masturbacao.” Quick attached images of the art to the e-mail correspondence. One of the images depict a man in make-up masturbating, achieving orgasm, and licking the ejaculation. Another image shows the same man touching his nipples and grabbing his buttocks.
The masturbation-focused event was part of the larger 2015 MOSAIC Conference, subtitled, “Destructing Gender: Moving Beyond the Binary.”
Jessica Klein, the organizer of the conference and the coordinator of Gender Programs and Sexual Violence Prevention at CMU, told The Daily Caller approximately 120 individuals attended the conference, including “students, staff, and faculty from CMU as well as community members and folks from other universities.”
She said the conference was “well-received.”
Other workshops at the MOSAIC conference included: “Gender Roles in Romance and Their Effects on Rape Culture: Steubenville Responses and Reflections,” “Gil Junger Presents the Taming of the Riot Grrrl: An Examination of the Film Soundtrack 10 Things I Hate About You and Its Use of the Riot Grrrl Persona to Portray the Modern Day Shakespearean Shrew,” and “When Empowerment Disempowers: How Empowerment Initiatives in International Development Reinforce Gender Norms and Stereotypes.”