This Woman Is Wearing Lingerie in Public for a Very Important Reason

This Woman Is Wearing Lingerie in Public for a Very Important Reason

Lingerie and feminism don't always go hand in hand. But thanks to performance artist Diana Oh, that may soon be changing.

Armed with lingerie, a hat, sunglasses and -- literally -- a series of soap boxes, Oh is on a mission to expose our culture's problematic view of female sexuality. Standing in swarming areas of New York City with two other women similarly stripped down to nothing but their underwear, Oh's project, a series of 10 different taped performances dubbed My Lingerie Play, is designed to send a strong message to those who wish to control women's bodies. 

In the video, Oh describes her commitment to ending "slut shaming," noting how it "feeds into unacceptable violence against women all over the world." As onlookers linger, stare, snap photos and laugh at the women, the performers stay silent. As is clear in the tape, these crowds' reactions effectively make Oh's point for her.

"Women's bodies are under attack, and I want that to stop. That is the ultimate goal," she told Mic. "I want women to be allowed to be sexual beings without it coming at the expense of our humanity and safety." 

And it's a very timely point indeed. We are currently still embroiled in a very public debate over whether women who are sexually harassed deserve it. Still too many (including some of our friends at Fox News) believe that it's a man's right to yell masturbatory thoughts to complete strangers on the street. Oh disagrees. She views this kind of abuse as just one more way women are systemically dehumanized. "We are not asking to be harassed, abused, talked down to or violated, no matter what we're wearing," she says in the video. "The problem is not sexualization, it's the degradation that comes with women expressing it."

This is an important distinction. Oh has no problem with women being sexual. What she does have an issue with is how we treat these women when they express their sexuality. "The solution is not to tell women to stop being sexual beings," she says. "The solution is to change the way we are talked about, for being a sexual woman does not strip us of a humanity."

Although the last installation of her project occurred over the weekend at New York's Paradise Factory, Oh encourages women and men who feel passionate about body-shaming and the wider implications it has for women's safety and well-being to organize their own protests.

So far, the reaction to her project been mixed. Although Oh has received praise from many, she's also been the focus of the backlash familiar to feminists. "I have also received very scary threats and harsh bullying, statements that would make anyone fear for their safety," she told Mic. The work of [My Lingerie Play] has been polarizing. Either people say, 'Thank God you're saying something' or they say, 'Shut the hell up, you're an idiot.' I ignore the latter. There's nothing you can say that is going to stop me from doing this work. I know the world needs it. I know the world needs it now. I need it. For myself."

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Elizabeth Plank

Elizabeth is a Senior Correspondent at Mic and the host of Flip the Script.

MORE FROM

20 attorneys general write letter urging Betsy DeVos to keep sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.

One woman living in R Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” says everything is fine. That doesn’t mean it is.

Jocelyn Savage says she's "happy" and "totally fine" in her arrangement with R. Kelly. Experts say that's common behavior among abuse survivors.

Black women warned us about R Kelly's behavior for years. Was nobody listening?

Black women and girls have been telling people for years about the singer's behavior. And yet too few people have deigned to listen.

20 attorneys general write letter urging Betsy DeVos to keep sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.

One woman living in R Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” says everything is fine. That doesn’t mean it is.

Jocelyn Savage says she's "happy" and "totally fine" in her arrangement with R. Kelly. Experts say that's common behavior among abuse survivors.

Black women warned us about R Kelly's behavior for years. Was nobody listening?

Black women and girls have been telling people for years about the singer's behavior. And yet too few people have deigned to listen.