Could you pick your vulva out of a line-up?
This is the question DIVA asked when we invited readers to
submit snaps of their own lady-gardens for this issue. On Facebook,
readers responded variously with hilarity, disbelief and
enthusiasm. Some of you couldn't imagine anything more intrusive;
others immediately understood the point of the project - to
celebrate and demystify female genitalia. Because, while any man
could recognise his tackle at a glance, far fewer women are as
familiar with their bits. Worse, many of us, even those who enjoy a
close personal relationship with someone else's vulva, feel our own
is somehow beyond the pale: not cute enough, not tight enough, too
hairy, too pungent. And this personal alienation is reflected in
society's silence around female genitalia. While images of erect
penises have been two a penny since ancient times, the rare
carvings of the Sheela Na Gig, who guards the doorways to medieval
Irish churches holding her cunt lips open wide, still has the power
to shock. There is not, after all, an equivalent to the word
phallic (meaning relating to or resembling a phallus) with anything
like the same power and currency in our culture.
Of course, we're not the first to address the issue of vulva
visibility. In 1975, lesbian artist and photographer Tee Corinne
self-published The Cunt Colouring Book (exactly what it says on the
tin, in case you've never heard of it), which is still available on
Amazon - supply your own crayons. More recently, sex educator Joani
Blank edited Femalia (2011), a collection of 32 full-colour photos
of vulvas, and Jamie McCartney's sculpture Great Wall of Vagina
features 400 casts of real life cunts (Display, p54).
Read the rest of this feature and see the images in the
October issue of DIVA on sale from September 27 2012.
Buy it online here
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