In 2022, Roopa Vasudevan feels a shift.supreme court overruled Roe v Wade, she immediately thought of “Sluts Across America,” a project she created anonymously in 2012. The page, which collected thousands of testimonials in support of contraception, is now defunct due to an outdated code. Frustrated and determined, Vasudevan reprogrammed and restored it.
“This Dobbs “The decision … ignited my passion, brought it back online, and am currently working on my Ph.D.,” said Vasudevan, a digital media artist and computer programmer in West Philadelphia. at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Sluts Across America” is a platform where people can write and read anonymous responses to the prompt, “I’m a slut because…” Entries are marked by location and placed on a world map.
In just two months, it had nearly 9,000 entries from across the US and beyond. The site’s “About” section states: “If protecting ourselves is making us sluts, it’s time to redefine what ‘slut’ really means.” The memorable name comes after Rush Limbaugh testified in Congress An incendiary tirade against birth control advocate Sandra Fluke; he called her a “slut.” “This whole conversation reads absurdly, and we’re making these value judgments on people who are actually taking really proactive steps to take care of their own reproductive health,” Vasudevan said.
She created the page because she wanted to know “if people are willing to see themselves as sluts, if people are willing to exist in solidarity. It started as an experiment in collective storytelling [to illustrate] People ask for birth control for a variety of reasons,” she said.
“I like sex, but not children.”
“I’m in charge of my future, not a straight white Christian guy.”
“I support the right to control my body, my motherhood and my endometriosis.”
“Sex is a big part of my life and I have no shame in pursuing the pleasure of a sexual experience. Without my kids, there is no way I can hope to be adequately cared for, financially or otherwise.”
Contributors talk about not being ready to have kids and how birth control regulates period cramps. They wrote about the principles of sexual liberation, medical necessity, and choosing for yourself. “It’s astounding to see how many of these contributions resonate with each other,” says Vasudevan. A silhouette symbol of a nude woman—a cheeky design choice—marks the location of each entry and overlays the U.S., Europe, and and elsewhere, with comments from people as far afield as New Zealand, South Africa and Japan.
A master’s student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts at the time, Vasudevan has remained anonymous. “I worry about blowback from the right [and] People are stalking me or threatening me,” she said. She still worries about trolls, but she said, “It’s gotten so many contributions, it’s been written into books…I feel more comfortable now putting Attaching myself to it as an artist… credits myself ex for all the work I’ve done over the past 10 years. “
This is the first time she has identified herself as an artist in a major publication.
Vasudevan has been active in the city’s arts scene, with shows at Vox Populi, an artist-run space in Callowhill, and Automat in the Crane Arts building. Her work examines the way people interact with technology and examines how we unconsciously adopt default behaviors, such as simply following Apple’s latest redesign.
Vasudevan credits “Sluts Across America” as her first successful art project. “I really started to see myself as an artist, using the internet to foster unity and connection between people, a recurring theme in a lot of my practice.”
It’s this hope of unity that underscores her motivation to bring the project back online in 2023. If abortion seekers in places like Missouri feel particularly isolated, they may find solace in hearing neighbors’ perspectives affirming the decision. Vasudevan hopes that people will continue to contribute and use this page as a resource.
Roe v Wade Turns 50 this month. Ten years ago, it was hard to believe that the Supreme Court would go against established precedent. “In 2012, we took the right to abortion for granted, right? We took the right to contraception for granted,” Vasudevan said. “It becomes more urgent to see something like this [”Sluts Across America”] It is understood [reproductive rights are] It’s not as set in stone as we like to believe…we have to really come together as a group and show our support for reproductive freedom. “
Roopa Vasudevan’s “Slow Response I (Drawings), 2021-2022” is on view at the Annenberg School of Communication (3620 Walnut Street), 5th Floor, until May 2023.