This project is part of a series that sets out to inquire into the political and aesthetic (1) potential of human body scents (2).
While all body scents remain stigmatised in Western culture, female body scents have a history of particularly negative associations. In this workshop female participants critically engage with gender-related perceptions on body scents, through a presentation, discussions, and hands-on experiments. With special attention to social and cultural norms in relation to body scents perceived as female, they explore the following questions: How do we react towards women‘s body scents? Can we overcome potential prejudice or even disgust, by cultivating curiosity?
1. Introduction to the theme and each other
2. Introduction to the science of smell
3. Collection of our body scents and discussion
4. Presentation and discussion: Historical and contemporary examples of taboos surrounding female body scents in Western culture
5. Smell exercise with chemical and organic products
(1) I refer to the philosophical discourse about sense experience. I draw upon Baumgarten’s definition of aesthetics as a “science of perception” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2014), as well as Fisher’s definition of aesthetics as “[…] a complex ‘product’ of discourse, [which] constitutes an experiential ‘process’ entailing apprehension” (Fisher 1995, p. 27).
(2) By ‘body scents’, I refer to the entire spectrum of natural human body odors and their modification through any added products such as shower gel, aftershave, essential oils or the like. Overall, all activities (such as reading, exercising, working, etc.), as well as food and health situation have an effect on our body scents.