I think it’s appropriate to explain how it comes to be that I’m writing this. I noticed that our lovely Women’s editor, Alice Wolff, posted a link to a site called 101vagina.com. You may have now guessed what that website entails, but just in case you haven’t, yes, it is entirely about vaginas.
Before I start, I will admit there is something wrong with this article, just as there is something wrong with the 101vagina exhibition, book and calendar. There aren’t any pictures of vaginas, this is because, and speaking quite plainly, the term vagina is falsely used to give a name to the collective parts of what is visually exposed of the female anatomy. So when I say ‘vagina’, I’m actually referring to the vulva throughout. I do this because it is the vernacular of the masses. Not that this makes it right, but it does raise another point about understanding the female anatomy, because actually, the vast majority of us don’t even get that right.
101vagina started as an art exhibition, it is now taking its vaginal compilation and giving birth to a calendar, that showcases all of its 101 women’s vaginas in all their glory, for you to pontificate over whilst you eat an M&S sandwich in your cubicle during your lunch break.
In the little spot that exists just above your posted links on Facebook, Alice had written a couple of sentences, somewhere along the lines of how good this idea of 101vaginas could be, creating a calendar and tackling the ‘taboos’ that surround vaginas. So, my immediate reactionary comment to grazing this post and quickly scanning its content was; “I wasn’t aware there was a vagina taboo?”
It would appear that my naïveté had caught the better of me.
I’m a pretty liberal thinker, with an open mind, and as long as there is good context and educated reasoning to a conversation, I’ll go along with what ever the topic is, even vaginas. I really didn’t think there was a taboo to vaginas, but I think what I had wrong was the idea of exactly what element of them was taboo… It’s not quite as if there are mass rallies with cloaked figures holding pitchforks and fire screaming ‘down with vaginas’, and I would highly doubt there is an aversion towards vaginas when it comes down to sex. The point I’m making here is, there is a lot more to vaginas than whats on the face of it. If you’ll pardon pun.
It wasn’t till discussing it at some length with ‘girl’ friends, and reading in length the www.101vagina.com website, which, you really should if you managed to get thus far in to this article, that I realised there is quite a few issues that surround vaginas that my ignorance for not having one probably blinded me to.
For instance, I wasn’t aware that there is quite a pressing problem with women struggling with vagina image. Believing that theirs isn’t normal, or isn’t right or is too big, too small, that they have too much labium, or not enough, their clitoris isn’t how they think it should be, the list goes on…
I can appreciate this to an extent, all men, if they were to be honest enough would admit that at some point or another they have considered whether their penis is normal, and definitely wondered if it is big enough! Much insecurity surrounds the penis; we only have to look to Freud for this.
So upon reflection, it makes complete sense that women would have apprehensions towards their vaginas. The beautiful idea of 101vagina is to recognise the individuality and uniqueness of vaginas, that no two are the same, that we are all eternally different in every wonderful and minutiae way. Their way of showing this, is by showing us, a 101 fantastically varied vaginas from all women of all backgrounds and ages, and the results are, well, pretty eye catching!
12 glorious months of vagina
The exhibition was so successful, the calendar was commissioned and now there are 12 glorious months of vagina to adorn your wall. I would imagine the more conspicuously placed the better! I would personally place it where it would gain the most visibility and hopefully, cause the most fraught looks and bubbling conversation.
It really must be addressed as well, as for in this modern day era of great understanding of all things, it boggles me as to how so many still get the more intimate parts of the female anatomy so horridly wrong. If we can land a probe on a comet tens of thousands of miles away spinning inconceivably fast, surely, we can know the difference between the labia majora, and labia minora.
It isn’t some unfathomable mystery that lurks behind the closed doors of Victoria’s silky secrets, and more importantly it is something that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about. For too long has the social convention of anything remotely associated to sexual discussion been a part of the British idiom that ‘we just don’t talk about that kind of thing’. Nonsense, it is precisely because of a lack of strong and open conversation about vaginas that a discourse exists that gives rise to women believing that there is a ‘normality’ to vaginas. The same goes for breasts, penises, scrotums, shape, sizes, and colours of such.
If we are to truly give a chance for not just women, but for all of us to not feel an inadequacy towards the bodies we have, and the bits that are on them, then we need to get talking! And if vagina calendars are a starting point, then I can’t wait for January 1st 2015.