“The way images circulate on social media has disrupted the connection to our bodies, and to one another.” Queer artist Megan Wirick joins Lorrae to explore how digital devices and spaces have changed our relationship to intimacy, sexuality, and ourselves – and how we can navigate consent and agency in the digital age.
Megan’s art aims to develop new narratives on creativity, consumerism, beauty, and consent as we shape our digital personas and explore the ethics of content creation, when social media and sharing platforms have blurred the boundaries of clear consent.
Sex Worker Rights, Ethics, and Curating a Life Online
Lorrae: I’m so excited to chat about your art and how it’s been consent-focused and sex-positive and body-positive. It’s such a beautiful way to give us more agency in a digital world where so often our agency and self-expression has been taken from us – in relationships, in the media, and how we are able to express ourselves and censorship.
I’m curious how you’ve seen that play out in the digital space and how that’s evolved over the years as a sex positive artist.
Megan: I think that with social media, it’s changed our idea of censorship. We have this way of curating our lives and what we put out. So in a way, we’re giving people this consent into certain versions of our lives.
And I think that because we’re constantly being interacted with, that changes the way that we’re being interacted with in our physical bodies.
I think that our idea of consent has changed through how images are shared, even if it’s not anything to do with erotic art or erotic anything. And I think that we have this weird digital presence all the time that we kind of don’t think about.
Lorrae: That’s so interesting because we do put things online that are a window into ourselves and our personality.
And then the flip side of that is often, I feel like folks might take advantage of that or feel like they are keen to comment on who you are as a person or your personality. And of course, there’s good that can come of it, like accountability, but then there’s a lot of bad people just saying mean shit to people online behind an anonymous veil.
Megan: That’s the social media side, and then the other side, of course, sex workers. Somebody might have consented to being filmed in one setting, but then it gets uploaded to a different platform or it gets brought to this other thing. And so there’s questions around how that is shared.
Lorrae: That’s so fascinating to me for many reasons, but when the Pam and Tommy Hulu series came out representing that, they had used that Pamela had posed for Playboy as a justification why her images – that were privately filmed and stolen from her – were “allowed” to legally be leaked. That she didn’t have rights to her own image and her own body, even though it was private and a totally different type of content than what she was creating for Playboy.
I think about how if you’re a sex worker and you share a private image with a partner and they leak that as revenge porn. If you’re creating that content, legally you have less recourse because you’re a sex worker.
It’s just so screwed up that that’s where we’re at with it and that it’s been happening for so long.
Megan: With my art personally, I tend to question a lot about the ethics behind what kind of content you’re using. So for a while there, and I still do this sometimes, I would draw from internet pornography. At the time, back whenever Tumblr still had porn on it, I would draw from gifs. That was a really accessible thing to be able to draw from.
But then, at the time I wasn’t thinking as much about this, but I definitely think about this more now – I wasn’t completely vetting how that was being placed on the internet.
So that’s something that I think about more now with being part of the problem of not consenting or this person potentially not consenting to that specific image or that specific video being put out there. And then I’m drawing it. Then if I were to sell the work then there’s the ethics of selling artwork with someone’s likeness in that context.
Magic Wand: An Extension of Ourselves and A Symbol of Cyborg Feminism
Lorrae: You’ve mentioned that you started incorporating products and toys into your work. And of course, the Magic Wand pieces caught my eye, and you have all of these different mixed media and digital and even body art and makeup representations of the Magic Wand in your art. What inspired you to incorporate that as a theme?
Megan: The idea of using figures and specifically like internet pornography and stuff like that is really being challenged. So I was starting to use Magic Wands and intimate clothing as a sort of symbol or figure. And it was a way to think about an extension of ourselves.
I was thinking about how our phones are an extension of ourselves. We’re always on our phones. There’s this weird thing of being like, it is us, but it’s also this piece of technology. And I was thinking about that with like sex toys as well and how they’re almost like this prosthetic.
I was also reading the Cyborg Manifesto and cyborg feminism stuff around this time. So I think that’s also where some of the inspiration came from.
Lorrae: I really do feel like toys can be an extension of our bodies and our pleasure. So many people think that toys are in competition with one-on-one connection or human connection, but really it’s this beautiful addition. Body parts don’t vibrate and body parts can’t do these things that toys can. So it’s really adding so much more in.
I love that you mentioned too, it becomes like this symbol that’s representative of our pleasure instead of showing something like porn especially in these days of censorship on so many different platforms.
Dinosaur Vibrators and Other Silly Sex-Positive Art
Lorrae: Have you found that including Magic Wand or other toys into your art has opened up more conversations about sexuality or push backs as you’ve kind of had more new erotic themes in your art?
Megan: I think the reaction has been overall positive. I think that people are really drawn to the Magic Wand and the sex toys. I have the one painting that’s like dinosaur vibrators and it kind of plays with silliness. I’ve always been attracted to a humorous touch to my art and I think people are really drawn to that.
I want to think people just think it’s funny, but I think people can kind of connect to it a lot easier whenever things are kind of humorous.When people are uncomfortable, they tend to laugh about things or shrug it off.
It doesn’t have to be so serious, even though we’re talking about something that is more serious.
Lorrae: I love the dinosaur vibrators, that’s so cute. I think that so much of sex is meant to be playful and silly and explorative, but we get caught up in these mainstream representations of sex that it’s supposed to be sex kitten porny.
In reality, sex is messy and goofy and silly and sometimes like weird and awkward noises and getting to laugh about that and opening up that conversation is huge.
Megan: I really like that. I think that’s probably the pivotal moment of drawing from porn but then making more of a joke about things. Being okay to laugh about things and know that it’s this abject, awkward, but also great thing.
Explore how to keep art and intimacy lighthearted, invite playfulness into pleasure, and how toys like the Magic Wand are not only tools for heightened sensation – but can become extensions of ourselves as we seek to expand our pleasure.
Join us as we explore the impact of technology and virtual spaces on sex-positive, artistic expression – and how we can utilize both foster self-expression, community, and come to love and embrace our true selves.
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