Violence Against Women and Challenging Stigmas

Recently I was asked to help a master’s degree candidate by answering some questions to support of her research. Her work is focused on ending violence against women. She contributes the lack of comprehensive sex education in Western society to our shameful statistics of violence. What’s really cool is that she will use her research to design sex education for men and women.

Being a huge research nerd, I truly love helping anyone further their educational pursuits. Alice approached me on Instagram and needless to say, I was honored to help. You might enjoy the answers too.

Baked vulva pies on a black background. The pies look like they are being eaten or destroyed. A fork is in one pie and pie filling and crust is strewn about. The picture supports the post about ending violence against women.

What influenced/inspired you to start making these pies? 

I have a degree in painting and am a certified art teacher for pre-K through 12th grade. As a teacher, I felt a lot of shame surrounding my personal artwork. I always used symbolism to narrate my views and tried to stay away from anything too controversial. Even when dealing with issues that disturbed me, such as female genital mutilation.

Feeling like I couldn’t be myself as an artist pushed me further and further away from my art. Eventually, I turned to baking and dessert decorating as a creative outlet. (I even ran my own bakery for 5 years!)

During the pandemic, in around December 2020, the idea just came to me one day to make my personal art using desserts as my media. I felt strongly that beautifully and realistically representing the vulva, which is crudely referred to as a hair pie or cream pie here, would be a first step in reclaiming that imagery- or at least challenging it as a demoralizing/ objectifying title.

Why do you think, although women are highly sexualised, vaginas are such a huge stigma? 

(Full Question: You have grown a large following and the response to your work has been amazing. There is clearly a demand for this kind of female representation. Why do you think, although women are highly sexualized, vaginas are such a huge stigma?)

In our patriarchal society, women’s bodies are considered to be for men’s pleasure/ use and for having babies. Yet, no one wants to see the vagina or vulva when they’re birthing or talk about them in relation to women’s pleasure, or in any way that is not cisgender normative. It seems to be beyond the grasp of the general population to see the vulva in a non-sexualized way. So, there becomes this deep, inner conflict for a lot of us vulva owners who are also artists. It’s the center of our anatomy and this source of strength, pleasure, and pain, but we are mostly supposed to pretend it doesn’t exist or treat it like a gift we get to share with the most deserving of men. 

If I really keep going here, we literally cannot step onto public transportation or walk down a street without thinking about our genitals and breasts because we are in danger because we have them. They teach us to cover them, keep them from jiggling, use them to get attention, etc. and then it becomes this huge moral issue on top of it all. 

I suspect until the vulva is under the control of the vulva owner to do with as they please; we are going to have this power struggle and it will continue to have the stigma.

Do you believe your art is a metaphoric ‘fuck you’ to this narrative? 

(Full Question: On your website, you talk about the contrast between expectations of women. First, the maternal homemaker along with the highly objectified sex symbol. Do you believe your art is a metaphoric ‘fuck you’ to this narrative?) 

Absolutely. It is me taking my traditional homemaking skills and my art-making skills to create these beautiful diverse vulvas that people find shocking and lovely and immediately want to know what in the world is going on. 

It’s also a big part of it to me they are for art and not food- it’s always assumed they are for consumption, just like our actual bodies- but that’s a part of it that not everyone gets. 

Violence is more common for women of colour. Do you think there needs to be more awareness around this problem? 

(Full Question: I noticed on your Instagram page that your first removed art depicted a black vagina. I feel like I have a responsibility, as a student bringing awareness to violence against women, to highlight that gender-based violence is more common for women of colour. Do you think there needs to be more awareness of this problem? ) See Pie 26 here

There definitely does. I have a powerful belief that we all must care for one another as women and that we cannot say we have social justice until we have the same care for all of our sisters. We have to keep confronting biases within ourselves, on social media, and in our communities. 

Side by side of Pies in the Window Pie 26 that was censored by Instagram. Pie on the left is a vulva pie with pie crust art made to look like a human vulva with pink insides. Pie on the right is the same by with a censorship bar across the image.

Do you believe violence against women stems from society learning from toxic social norms? 

Yes. I think it’s centuries and centuries and toxic social norms and patriarchal thinking. Women and men uphold the status quo even when we have time periods of substantial progress. 

Helpful Links About Ending Violence Against Women

800-799-7233 Domestic Violence Support Hotline

End Violence Against Women International

Facts and Figures: Ending Violence Against Women

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