It is good for women, especially, to be endowed with a soft blindness: to have mild, dim eyes, that never penetrate below the surface of things – that take all for what it seems: thousands, knowing this, keep their eyelids drooped, on system; but the most downcast glance has its loophole, through which it can, on occasion, take its sentinel-survey of life. I remember once seeing a pair of blue eyes, that were usually thought sleepy, secretly on the alert, and I knew by their expression – an expression which chilled my blood, it was in that quarter so wondrously unexpected – that for years they had been accustomed to silent soul-reading.
Shirley – Charlotte Brontë
THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF SEX PRACTICE: AGES SIXTEEN TO TWENTY FOUR (AND SOME AFTER) is a polemical exploration into the sexual and bodily narrative prescribed from adolescence to early adulthood. A lived experience that has had passivity, submission and obedience inculcated into the undercurrents of my being. Using the 1932 text, The Encyclopaedia of Sex Practice, by Doctor Norman Haire, as a framework to position the images and text I endeavor to revise the narrative from one of docility to one of ownership and active decision making. Though saccharine in visual representation, the work seeks not to subvert the constraints of femininity or reframe the constructs of being female but rather challenge notions of societal complacency in allowing such experiences to take place. The act of sharing a secret means it is no longer one and through this process the work aims to have a cathartic impact on the mind, allowing it to let go of memories that should no longer have an influence over experiences of sex and love.