Taking the Men out of Menstruation; Return to Women Only at WOW

When I bleed the artists Love me more.

They sense my edge more clearly and it pleases them in their aim to capture me, define me. Even if the power of the Mystery is actually stronger, their overall grasp of my Being is deeper, more profound at that time, because I radiate so vibrantly.

Other times perhaps I’m a bit blurry, but day 1 of my cycle, I’m as crisp as an iceberg, as hot as a volcano, and I melt and pour all over their page. During Menstruation, the artists compliment me more, rebook me more, and generally become more fascinated with me. I have observed this over 8 years of primarily making a living from being a life model.

Sometimes I can smell myself, maybe a little blood has rubbed onto my thigh. Can they smell me too? I’ve heard of artists taking offence at male models getting hard or just dribbling! But female models bleeding; I think they are simply grateful I turn up at all. Lots of female models won’t pose at that time, but I do and I know I excel then. I don’t care if my mooncup overflows and artists get a sight of my rich blood flowing down my leg. In fact I like that they see the whole deal uncovered. It doesn’t happen often as to pose without mooncup or tampon would be extreme, blood necessarily instantly gushing. Only a very feminist life drawing group might go for that, but I haven’t found such yet. To be honest, I haven’t asked. This post my first overt foray into the grit of menstrual posing.

I love my periods and decided to celebrate them with my girlfriends in a red tent group every new moon. The female body and our connection to the natural world and the universe is incredible. I hardly get PMT; at worst it tells me what I need to remove from my life. At best it makes me a lot more badass. Sometimes I want a lot more Me time. I’m less malleable.

I used to experience it more painfully when I was younger, in my early 20s, but I think becoming a life model improved my relationship with my body. I can use the poses like yoga to stretch parts of me that need releasing, sending endorphins on a regular route round my nervous system keeping me in check.

Every day I go to work is a celebration of my body.

Also over the years I have attracted partners who respond more positvely on all levels to my form; less jealousy, greater acceptance and gratitude. Naturally this is a mirror of myself.

PMT may be very individual, but I think many of us can work through it, unblocking its potentially negative hold on us. I believe that it is a cultural construct (and very powerful at that), but it can be undone. That involves unlocking the burdens that have been placed on us by others and ourselves, and figuring out what we actually want for ourselves. In some cultures and in some cases, that may be nigh impossible, but here in the post-Industrial West where the traditional family unit long disintegrated for many of us, reconsidering the life of womankind must assume prominence. We are ripe for it.

Men & Spirited Bodies

Some men are sneaky fuckers. They know how to behave in front of me so I’ll think they are kosher. Then they act like a dick with the female models. They don’t realise some of the women are my friends, so I know all about their idiot tricks.

I’m left with a choice.

a) Don’t bother with men any more.

b) Only invite men to model who I really know and trust. (Male artists very rarely a problem).

c) Get funding as dealing with idiot men is very consuming and one ought to be paid to bother. It would be a great shame to miss all the lovely men out there who may benefit and not cause any problems. But dealing with men in this game involves many idiots.

d) Make the issue clearer at events with announcements at the start outlining the rules.

What can happen when the wrong men pose at Spirited Bodies

Staying still in close proximity to several nude (desirable) women – they get carried away in male fantasy of what this long awaited opportunity means. They have been conditioned to think that because these women are happily naked with them, they may be sexually available. Perhaps they have never been naked with a woman before, never had sex or a girlfriend. There’s a lot of potential issues rumbling around the studio. Not just about the body, not just about sex, but concerning the entire Patriarchal corruption of the male/female relationship.

One more thing about the Blood

That bit at the end of the period or the beginning or even somewhere in the middle on an unpredictable one – where there’s not enough blood to warrant an insertion (tampon/mooncup). Fuck it. I’m just going to bleed a little, smell a tad, because that for me is going with the flow.

Spirited Bodies at Southbank

On Saturday 7th March we return to the Women of the World festival at Southbank Centre. We will be in the Blue Room on the Spirit (ground) Level, from 5 – 7pm. This is a Women only event, for women wanting to model, draw or witness. Interviews with some of the women modelling will be played while they pose (sound recording). Get in touch (info.spiritedbodies@gmail.com) if you would like to book a place to model, draw, or even be interviewed. Limited places. If you get a day pass or a weekend ticket to the festival you can also come. There will be guidance on how to pose if you are new, and this is a very supportive environment if you are nervous. If I have time I will schedule a smaller workshop for women a week or so before the event to warm up for it.

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These pictures are of myself and Hope Deeney posing at Toynbee Art Club, December 2014

Published by esther bunting

Performer, artist, writer

7 thoughts on “Taking the Men out of Menstruation; Return to Women Only at WOW

  1. Esther,
    I’m sorry to hear that you are becoming disillusioned with male models. I have modelled at just one of your events, in the Mall Galleries, and detected no such tension there. Your acceptance of first-time models is unusual in my experience, and thus perhaps more risky. The other extreme is more familiar to me, working in educational establishments that require interviews, references, background checks and close supervision, all for just solo modelling. While that does make the process rather clinical, it also seems to weed out the thrill seekers. I hope that you will persevere with the mixed tableaux, which make such interesting subjects, even if it does mean restricting your field of models to those you know and trust.

  2. А very interesting discussion is taking place here, and I was promted to say a few words. I know Esther only from the social media, and for me she is an awsome contributor to art and social engagment. Let’s forget for a moment that we are talking about nude men and women. Interaction of humans beings is being discussed here, and Esther is expressing her opinion based on solid experience. I am far from defending her dicision about this event (Women only), but also I won’t stand by the expected men’s reaction to the event. It is a vision of the originator (Esther) and her crew as how the event would be presented, and I hope that the next event would be a ‘mixed tableaux’ as Rob put it, and men and women would interact for the benefit of both ‘genre sexuel’.

  3. I have just come across your site and was initially excited to read it as I am both a life model and a feminist, but find the comments in this post about male models very disappointing. If you don’t want men to model at your events then fine, but it’s extremely unfair to characterise male models as sexual opportunists.

    1. Hi Shona, sorry that this bothered you. Well most of the guys are fine, it’s just a shame that it only takes one or two to make a very bad impression. I don’t mean to tar them all with the same brush, that would be unfair. Their reasons for wanting to model however, are often different. Not bad at all necessarily, but nevertheless antithetical to the needs of some of the women. Bear in mind I aim events at women who may gain the most which can include more vulnerable types, so I need to think of them when picking the men, which from now on, I will do most carefully.

  4. Hello Esther and friends. Actually I agree with Esther. There are various issues arising when you have men and women posing together, even if none of the men are actively seeking out opportunities for sex… Esther I know for many years had a very open mind as regards involving men in the Spirited Bodies project but I do see her point of view that even if it is a small minority, the opportunistic males will totally change the environment and experience for the female models. There are lots of modelling jobs in London for men and women. Spirited Bodies is, I think, in part, an exploration of the connection between modelling and feminism and should be cherisehed as such. Esther – we know you love men and we love you too but you don’t need to feel guilty about excluding us from SB … you do what you want to do and don’t worry about us men. We’ll be fine .. Neil x

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