Petra Collins Talks About Her Controversial Period Vagina Shirt
My friend Petra Collins—who has done all sorts of wonderful photography work for VICE, along with the all-female art collective she founded and curates, The Ardorous—caused an entertaining storm of controversy this week. Petra designed a t-shirt for American Apparel with a simplistic line drawing depicting a masturbating, menstruating woman with pubic hair. All sorts of people who can’t handle female sexuality have called the shirt “vile,” “disgusting,” “gross,” and “icky” while adding “ew wtf” for good measure. Petra’s $32 t-shirt has been written up by The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, TIME, and a whole bunch of other blogs and media outlets who are trying to “figure out” the controversy.
In order to have a rational and intelligent conversation about a drawing on a t-shirt that is making a bunch of crazy people upset, I gave Petra a call on Skype last night and we talked it out.
VICE: What do you think of the media storm you’ve started?
Petra Collins: It’s really awesome. I’m not surprised. It’s exactly what I wanted because it totally proves my point…
And what is your point?
That we’re so shocked and appalled at something that’s such a natural state—and it’s funny that out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently. The graphic on my shirt is a line drawing, too. It’s not even a full-on image.
Yeah. In Grand Theft Auto V I can chase an elderly person down the street and shoot them 60 times with an assault rifle. I could literally do that for hours if I wanted to. No one cares. And yet your t-shirt shirt is the worst thing ever.
Yeah. The worst thing ever.
How did you react when the headlines started rolling in?
If you want to know my literal reaction I was laughing really hard. I called my sister and we were both just like, “oh my god.” Deep down it really saddens me but it’s also awesome that I’ve just trolled the mainstream media.
I did a very short interview for City TV—they took a two-second sound clip and I don’t even remember what I said—that they edited with peoples’ reactions on the street saying “oh that’s disgusting” and stuff like that. Except for one dude who thought it was awesome.