WHEN PEOPLE TALK about pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, they’re usually speaking metaphorically.
An artist from Portland, Oregon — Sarah Levy — is making that metaphor a literal reality by creating a portrait of Donald Trump made entirely out of her menstrual blood.
If you’re wondering where or why Levy got the idea to create this artistic rendition of Donald Trump using her own paint, let’s take it back to the first Republican presidential debate, where Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly gave Trump a “hard time” by asking him to elaborate on some of the issues he’s running his campaign on. Basically, she asked him to speak plainly and specifically for once, instead of using generalized platitudes and vitriol aimed at pandering to the emotions of the constituents he’s trying to poach from the Republican Party. He got mad because he couldn’t answer any of the questions with any semblance of intelligence, so he insinuated that Kelly was being a bitch because she was on her period.
When he says that she’s bleeding out of her “wherever,” we’re all meant to know that he means her vagina. And we’re all meant to think that a woman can’t be a functioning or intelligent being when she’s on her period. It’s damaging rhetoric that still finds itself a big part of the way that our society talks about menstruation — just think of all the times you’ve heard, “Watch out, ________’s on her period!” It’s the latest salvo in Trump’s very public and very blatant campaign to shame women over their bodies and conflate women’s worth and capabilities with said bodies.
Levy isn’t the first person to respond with indignation and outrage to Trump and his comments about Kelly — for days after, women all over Twitter were live-tweeting their periods at him — but she arguably is the most creative person to do so. We love her work for two reasons. First, Trump is obviously disgusted by women’s bodies and their natural functions. We’d pay good money to have been in the room to see his face when he found out that his image and likeness had been made with the blood from a woman’s “wherever.” Secondly, Levy’s work joins the ranks of efforts to normalize women’s periods and to demystify them — not to mention divest them of their associations with uncleanliness. Burgeoning movements like the “Let’s Face It. Period.” campaign are working hard to shift society’s knee-jerk reaction to women’s bodies existing outside of the ways we conventionally see them from condemnation to celebration and acceptance. Whether Levy intended to or not, her piece, appropriately entitled Whatever, is a powerful visual reminder that it’s simply not okay to make a woman feel bad about her body. Plus, discussion of medium choice aside, it’s a very skillful representation of Trump, if we’re taking our “cultural critic” hats off and switching them out for our “art critic” ones.
Levy has pledged to donate the proceeds from the sale of Whatever to an immigrants’ rights organization, immigrants being the other group suffering Trump’s idiotic and myopic bluster. You get all the wins this week, Sarah. We salute you, sister.
(h/t Evening Standard)