Sinful Sunday: anasyrma

In The Soul of Sex, Thomas Moore (no, a different Thomas Moore) discusses a few poses in which Aphrodite/Venus is commonly portrayed. I thought those poses would make an interesting theme for a series of images, and when I saw the February Sinful Sunday prompt, I knew it was the perfect time to get cracking.

So, “A is for…” anasyrma (ἀνάσυρμα), “lifting the skirt”.

This was done to display the genitals or buttocks in connection with religious rituals, eroticism or lewd jokes. The purpose is not the sexual gratification of the subject (i.e. exhibitionism), but the effect on onlookers. Here’s a classical example of front anasyrma, so you know what I’m on about:

Ägyptisches Museum Leipzig 206
Isis-Aphrodite, 2nd to 1st c. BC, Hellenistic Egypt
And here’s my slightly more demure take on it:

anasyrma


Lifting the skirt is a powerful act in a number of cultures, especially for its apotropaic effect (warding off evil). It connects with the sheela na gig, who scares away the devil with her vulva. Take that!

Pliny the Elder wrote in the first century AD that a menstruating woman who exposes herself can scare off hailstorms, whirlwinds and lightning. This is echoed in the Catalan saying “La mar es posa bona/ si veu el cony d’una dona” (The sea calms down if it sees the cunt of a woman).

As I was doing a spot of research for this post, I came across an interesting and powerful website called Raising the Skirt, which is “constructing a community of courageous and fearless women to join me in the act of Raising the Skirt and reclaiming our Cunts.”

badge Sinful Sunday