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Museum of Sex: Exploring Human Sexuality and the Human Body

Throughout time, human sexuality has been seen as a taboo, either through the outright objectification of women or, on the other side of the spectrum, abstinence with a degree of fear.

Currently, The Museum of Sex is exhibiting “Hardcore: A Century and a Half of Obscene Imagery.” This edgy exhibit discusses the role of human sexuality in images. Essentially, the exhibit features the role of the human body.

Making way through the exhibit, one obscene image after the other graces the wall. At first, the alarming images bring about some, well, disgust. The images are truly obscene in every sense of the word, however what becomes interesting is the history behind it all.

At first glance each image represents some type of action. On the surface, obscene images are a very basic way of communicating desire, lust, love or objectification. Below the surface lay hundreds of years of history behind the role of gender in our understanding of human sexuality and equality.

Undoubtedly, women have historically been second-class citizens, never having the ability to exercise their own rights, whether it is in education, the workplace or in democracy. The argument can also be made for sexuality.

This day in age, objectification is seen in movies, magazines, television and music. The use of women for a sole purpose of entertainment or sexual desire is common in our modern society of entertainment. Of course, this is completely obvious, as women’s rights are constantly discussed across the globe.

The images from more than 100 years ago hanging on the walls of The Museum of Sex ask the question: how long has the objectification of women been present in human society and is it really objectification at all? The collected items from past lives offer two different ideas.

These images depict men and women engaging in certain acts that are most definitely taboo in our modern day and were unthinkable in their original time of debut. This is where the debate between objectification and empowerment begins.

While some see the images as wholly obscene, others see the images as a way for women, and men alike, to empower themselves from their societal bonds and be free to express themselves sexually or otherwise.

However, objectification also fits the criteria found in each image. Human bodies, namely women’s bodies, are being used to satisfy desire or depict unrealistic expectations of human sexuality. This is something that women today face in every music video or Instagram post: the potential to be exploited for the satisfaction of others.

Although the exhibit showcases quite alarming photographs, to say the least, it opens conversation concerning the rights of humans, especially women, in the realm of sexuality and the way in which it is depicted to an outside audience.

Regardless of personal opinion on the matter of obscene imagery, the exhibit at The Museum of Sex provides a look into a history of human sexuality that has never before been seen. These vanguard exhibitions perpetuate the importance of open conversation about gender, and its relation to sexuality.

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