Menstruation, sexuality, sexual desire, smell, age, appearance, discharge… these are some stigmas around the vulva.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could step forward together and say time’s up for these archaic fears and beliefs? It would be a different world, for sure. I know I’m not the only one who is ready to make some positive changes.
I feel extremely hopeful and excited to be part of the movement of feminist artists creating vulva art and sex positive art to dispel stigmas and taboos about the vulva and vagina.
Stigmas close associate, taboo, makes it nearly impossible to dispel the stigma, and around and around we go. Trapped in cultural and societal norms that do not benefit us and, in fact, only cause harm.
Being a vulva owner ain’t easy
Self hatred, shame, false beliefs, negative mindset, feeling hopeless, even suicidal all over being born with a vulva may seem like hyperbole, but I don’t know a vulva owner who has shared none of these feelings.
The way we are born and naturally are is something we are told to change from the moment we know we have it. Hide it, don’t touch it, and Heavens forbid, don’t enjoy it, don’t talk about, tame it, groom it, make it smell nice, keep all of its fluids hidden, keep it tight, don’t let it age, only share it with the one… I’m exhausted just trying to list this all out for you!
If we cast all of this list aside and emerge as body positive, self-loving humans, we hit the wall of the next level in the game: sex positivity and liberated vulvas are a threat to polite society.
Lustful beings with opinions and demands for equality would run rampant throughout the planet! Perhaps they would even hold power and change the world. It would be… quite nice.
Right? There is much work to be done!
Presenting the vulva in art to break stigmas and taboos
There is debate over whether presenting the vulva is empowering or degrading. The arguments against it always sound like my grandma was whispering in their ear. Things like:
- If men see vulvas, they are going to be aroused and then that will take away from the message.
- If women aren’t self respecting and choose to show their body parts, then all of us are going to be sexualized.
- Women who self present are going to make us all look like sex starved lunatics, like they originally believed when they made up all the stupid
stigmas and taboos in the first place! Then we’ll all get punished.
- We’ve come too far to be associated with our body parts.
- Using body parts to represent a female is degrading because you’ve taken away her other qualities.
Personally, I think these types of arguments sound like my grandma. She was so worried about her reputation and so mean mouthed about women that she thought were loose and used their bodies to get what they wanted.
When you break down the arguments, you find a lot of fear that stems from our sex negative society.
Artists using the vulva as a subject
When I started making my vulva pies, I didn’t know there was an entire world of vulva art and vulva artists out there. After posting my work on Instagram and using hashtags to help people find my art, I began connecting with so many amazing artists. Here are a few of my favorites:
Lucy Churchill – “For 25 years I was happy to sculpt to commission–giving form to other people’s stories. This changed when, emboldened by the MeToo movement, I confronted my past. It was a traumatic experience that proved to be a liberating turning point for me–as a woman and as an artist.”
Lydia Reeves – “I want my work to have a positive impact on how people see not only their bodies, but how they see themselves as a whole.”
Jamie Bates Sloan– “I create work that resonates universally while simultaneously reflecting my own unique experiences. I choose to sculpt the female body in all of its operations, using scale, vignette, and color to encourage the viewer to further confront their own psyche and presumptions.”
Jacqueline Secor– “Choosing to portray vulvae as parts of nature is not about trying to make them “prettier” but about showing vulvae as they are: integral elements of the natural world we are a part of. The beauty, the strength, the very survival of nature depends on diversity.“
If you like deep reading about stigma and taboo, you might enjoy this as much as I did:
Leaks, Lumps, and Lines: Stigma and Women’s Bodies by Joan C. Chrisler
To see more of my art, head over to The Window.