Bits and Bods by Bethan Mooney and Isabella Connelley
Photographers: Bethan Mooney / @bethanmooney
Location: Melbourne, Australia
A Q&A WITH BETHAN MOONEY AND ISABELLA CONNELLEY:
Q: In your words, what is intimacy?
Kissing, cuddling, holding hands, play-fighting, snuggling - there are so many ways of being physically intimate with someone that doesn't involve ‘sex,' Also, being intimate with yourself - masturbating, touching, feeling, connecting - it's the best.
The most important thing to understand is that intimacy often goes hand in hand with vulnerability and this can be scary - so constantly check in with yourself and your partner, be respectful and only good things will come of it.
Q: How do you see art intersecting with sex education and empowerment?
Art is powerful - people can connect with it on so many levels. Our aim is to create emotion through spectacle, using stylized imagery to show how weird and wonderful bodies and their functions truly are. When audiences gasp, cringe, laugh - we start to break down taboos and rubbish ideas that this stuff should be shameful and secretive, provoking conversation which inevitably leads to education.
Q: What were your experiences with sex education and in what ways do you wish it had been different?
Sex education was way too anatomical and heteronormative; feelings, consent and pleasure were never mentioned. It was a complicated time for us and there were a lot of questions we wanted to ask but, for some reason, we felt we couldn't. To have a space beyond the classroom where you could go with no judgement and find answers would have been bloody great, which is exactly what we want to achieve with Bits and Bods.
Q: How do you think we can be more inclusive when educating youth about sex, intimacy and self love?
By asking a wide and diverse group of young people what they want to know and to stop making assumptions, period. Society tends to assume that young people don’t know anything about sex except what school teaches them, but that’s ridiculous. The teenagers we talk with have complex and active sexualities – and ask all kinds of questions. Being directed by young people’s lives makes any project much more able to produce inclusive content. At Bits and Bods, we run 'Ask Us' for this very reason and have a survey for young people to complete.
Q: For whom did you create "Bits and Bods" and why?
Bits and Bods is for teenagers. Our primary focus has been on teenage girls, and we’re working hard to expand this to include trans and gender non-conforming voices. We knew from our own experiences of school that formal sex ed is pretty shit; it’s full of stigma, is super heteronormative, avoids pleasure all together and so on. And then there’s not many other reliable sources that are also fun and engaging. So we decided to help fill that gap ourselves. We want teenagers to learn facts and also to learn that this stuff is normal, it’s good to talk about, it shouldn’t be embarrassing!
* View their full Armoire Mag IG takeover here.
© Bethan Mooney and Isabella Connelley 2017