Consent, Coercion and Constraint: exploring women’s freedom through objects that have shaped their bodies

Would you take the pill if there were other options? Do you need a tiny waist, or did the patriarchy make you think so? What if you had to take medication for a disease that does not exist?

Created by five MA students, this exhibition explores women’s freedom, and lack thereof. Through reflecting on their relationship with the objects which have shaped their bodies across the ages and globe, the selection of objects reflects on intricacies of consent and bodily autonomy.

Structured like the female body, the exhibition includes objects which have impacted women from head to toe. From anti-hysteria pills, to the first commercially available contraceptive pill, to a foot binder from 19th-century China, the exhibition also draws on a vast range of objects spanning spatial and temporal bounds.

The exhibition invites you to question your view of consent and freedom, and the covert and overt nature of constraint or coercion. The objects provoke the idea that women have a complex relationship with freedom and choice, and that the latter does not always equal the former.

How might this exhibition impact your view of your own freedom and consent? View now to find out.

Visit the online exhibition

Consent, Coercion, and Constraint is part of a wider series of exhibitions and projects undertaken by MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of an Interpretations course module.

Visit the exhibition.


Detail from poster entitled ‘Women beware of Man made Medicine’, London, England, 1978-1980. 2009-101. Science Museum Group Collection Online. Accessed January 4, 2022. Creative Commons 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).