Judy Chicago, Cock and Cunt Play (performed by Faith Wilding and Janice Lester at Womanhouse)

Judy Chicago’s Cock and Cunt Play was first performed by Faith Wilding and Janice Lester at Womanhouse in 1972. To read the original script in full click here.

Cock & Cunt Play (Womanhouse)

Cock and Cunt is a skit in three short acts, in which two women dressed identically in black leotards with oversized, pink vinyl genitalia perform with deliberate, awkward, puppet-like movements. It begins with one student, dressed as the ‘cunt’, asking in a high-pitched, halting voice if the other, dressed at the ‘cock’, will help her do the dishes. Shocked, the ‘cock’ refuses, claiming his phallus exempts him from doing dishes. The play continues with the ‘cock’ mounting the ‘cunt’ while he declares the superiority of his sex organ, which is ‘long and hard and straight…like a gun or a missile’, and accuses the ‘cunt’ of threatening to castrate him by asking him to participate in household chores and please her sexually. The performance ends with the ‘cock’ beating the ‘cunt’ to death with his phallus. A clear mockery of gender roles, Cock and Cunt is a comedy. But humorous as it is, it is also deeply sadistic, one might call it hysterical.

This performance, as with many of the performances produced through The Feminist Art Program at Fresno State and CalArts under the leadership of Judy Chicagp and Miriam Schapiro more closely resembled skits or plays than the more sophisticated, conceptual work being done by artists elsewhere. However, despite their lack of sophistication, the students’ performances of assault, harassment and violation were in tune with the broader cultural moment. Issues of aggression and violence toward women were just beginning to be discussed and analyzed within the women’s movement, and other feminist artists in the 1960s and 70s had just begun to explore these concerns through performance. Yoko Ono’s 1964 Cut Piece, Ana Mendieta’s 1973 apartment performance of Rape Scene and Marina Abramovi?’s 1974 Rhythm 0, are but three examples of performances dealing with the complex and difficult problems of objectification and violence, potential and actual.

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