If Your Vulva Could Speak, What Would She Say?
Healing from Sexual Violence using Art
Artist: Neha Bhat
This artwork was exhibited at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Trauma Resilience Centre, Bangalore and the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, among others.
In this artwork, there are “cunt-objects”, or vulvas created with patterned fabric collected from different places of a sexual assault survivor’s life, beads, cotton and more. They can serve as attachment-objects between survivors of sexual violence and their therapists that lead them into a transformative journey.
The word “cunt”, like the word “bitch” has a history steeped in gender-based violence. In the sex therapy room, a therapist is a person who is trained to help re-wire unhelpful associations to body parts, to teach people to release shame and help reorient a person’s relationship to their genitals, or to their partner’s genitals, with or without sexuality. The original idea behind this artwork was by Art Therapist and Counselor, Jordan Ferranto.
It is a rich experience making them, talking to them, holding them or playing with them.
Cunt-objects can assist in sex education, centering pleasure, making it easier to talk about things that have social shame around them.
I spent April and May 2019 creating work around the “Reclaiming Cunt” project which focuses on taking the slur back from the word ‘cunt’ and refocusing it on female pleasure, strength and advocacy. With abortion laws become more regressive, it is especially important right now to make space, reclaim space and show up for human rights louder.