History had a lot of moments in which clothes were used as feminist weapons. And now feminist artist Christen Clifford has taken the vintage pussy bow scarf and gone tongue-in-cheek with the name by printing images of the inside of her vagina onto it. Back in the day, flappers ditched their mothers' stuffy Victorian ideals by going with loose, ankle baring dresses; the youth of the '60s took things a step further and chopped their hems all the way to their mid-thighs; and women in the '80s proved their power and competence with the masculine-like power suit. So is 2015's contribution the pussy bow? Maybe.
While some might feel on the fence over wearing someone's vagina around their neck, Clifford did this in the aid of spreading a wonderful message. According to MTV News, "Christen Clifford regularly takes on art projects dealing with the female body (and her own body in particular), period stigma, rape, and reproductive rights because, as she recently told the Daily Dot, 'I want to fight the patriarchy with art.'"
And how does she fight the patriarchy with a silk scarf?
By printing the images of her vag, she's trying to show women that there's no shame in their bodies. With its soft colors and delicate hues, both vagina and scarf are beautiful. The wearer should feel pride rather than shame or disgust over their own bods.
Clifford also told MTV News, "I grew up with so much shame about my body and my sexuality and I don’t want that for anyone else — shame makes you feel like you yourself are inherently bad. Generations of women grew up feeling this way, and so many women artists before me have been trying to fight the shame.”
Interestingly enough, the pussy bow has feminist roots to begin with, even when it's not splashed in pink and red hues. Clifford wrote on her website, "The first women to enter the 'professional' realm adopted it as a feminine iteration of the tie. Margaret Thatcher made it her 'look.' Portia Di Rossi wears one in every episode of Scandal. So this is a REAL Pussy Bow."
There you have it: Whether you want to fight the patriarchy, have an off-the-wall ice breaker to discuss female anatomy, or just like pretty colors, the Pussy Bow just might be your ticket.
While Clifford is making strides to bring the topic of feminism back into the mainstream discussion, here are three other feminist artists who have spoken out against the patriarchy and shame against women's bodies in their own ways:
1. Rupi Kaur's Period Photo
When artist and poet Rupi Kaur uploaded an image to Instagram of herself curled up in bed and on her period, she was surprised to find that Instagram flagged and took down her photo — not only once, but twice.
She then went to Facebook and Tumblr with a response to the censorship, and her post was shared nearly 20,000 times. How could it not have been, though, with points like, "I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be OK with a small leak?"
2. Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's "Stop Telling Women To Smile" Campaign
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh started the "Stop Telling Women To Smile" campaign in New York in 2012, which stemmed from her experiences enduring street harassment. She sketched black and white portraits of women with resting faces, with a message to the men telling them to cheer up and violating their spaces.
When being asked to smile, women are arguably being asked to look pretty and pleasant and to cheer up the person demanding it. Women's bodies aren't there for other people's entertainment or their validation, though, which is what this campaign tries to show.
In this one, we're all the artists. Women have gone to social media to de-scandalize the form of a female boob. It's no secret social media can be sensitive when it comes to female bodies, but this extreme caution leads to hyper-sexualizing females and creating unnecessary objectification and victimization of women everywhere. The campaign, inspired by New York film of the same name, banded women together who wanted to take back their bodies.
So if you believe in an end to the hyper-sexualization or shame associated with women's bodies, the work of artists like Christen Clifford is undoubtedly worth supporting.