The Wondrous World of Vaginas, Vulvas, Cunts, & Clits
(by Sarah Lawrance)
This post has been a long time coming! I don’t really know how to introduce you to the myriad arts & crafts depicting (and usually celebrating) women’s genitalia, except by simply showing them to you. I’ve organized these examples by type of art/craft, in no particular order:
Creations range from the DIY crocheted finger puppets I found in Montreal last year (wish I had a photo!) to Dorrie Lane’s Wondrous Vulva Puppets, which I had the pleasure of encountering at the Guelph Sexuality Conference earlier this year. The latter were created as educational tools, as well as tools for healing, honouring, and empowering women through the myriad life experiences so particular to us. They serve to ease difficult conversations, to encourage storytelling, and as a visual aid in sexual and reproductive health education for women and girls of all ages.
Vulva-themed jewelry & accessories
There exists a wide range of vulva-themed jewelry & accessories—from pendants and earrings to cell phone charms and change purses—made from a variety of materials (clay, steel, felt, rubber, cotton, wool, and more!). Here are some examples that I found particularly interesting:
Custom vulva portrait pendants (!) // Polymer clay vulva pendant // “Steampunk” vulva pendant // “Cranberries” vulva pendant // Felted wool pendant // Simple polymer pendant // Vulva Earrings // Clay vulva ring // Cell phone charm // Flannel vulva wallet // Knit acrylic vulva coin purse // Lip balm containers (!?)
Cut-and-pasted, photocopied, stapled together, and distributed through informal, independent social networks, “cunt zines” have been popular productions since Riot Grrrl’s early days and appear to have only increased in popularity! Examples include Conscious Clits, the cunt zine, CUNTastic, Blood.CUNT, C.U.N.T., and Clit Rocket!, and their content tends to address a wide range of issues in the realms of sexuality and reproductive health.
Books and colouring books
Also interesting are Tee Corinne’s The Cunt Coloring Book and Inga Muscio’s Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. Muscio’s Cunt is essentially a call to arms for women to reclaim the word “cunt” and reject all the negative meanings that have come to be associated with it. Based on what I can gather from various Internet sources, the publisher of Corrine’s Cunt Coloring Book, published in 1975, actually changed the book’s name to Labiaflowers: A Coloring Book for the 1981 edition because the term was offensive to some people in and out of the publishing industry. Since this went against Corrine’s principal reason for publishing the book in the first place (sex education using familiar language), she fought to change the name back to its original form, and succeeded in time for another reprint in 1989!
Other interesting items:
To make a few final comments, I want to note that many images I came across were labeled “vagina” images by the artists, yet they were in fact depictions of vulva. I find it interesting how we are so effectively socialized to ignore our “women parts” that we don’t even know what they’re properly called! Regardless of our sex or gender we all know the difference between the penis and the testicles, but when it comes to distinguishing the vagina from the vulva many people (including those who have them) consistently confuse them or use the word “vagina” to encapsulate the whole of the female sexual and reproductive systems.
A final concluding comment: you might have noticed that many of the above examples came from the website Etsy.com, an international network of buyers and sellers of handmade goods that aims to provide viable alternatives to mass production and faceless corporations. Interestingly, there are a number of parody blogs whose sole purpose is to poke fun at some of the more unusual or taboo items found on Etsy.com, such as Regretsy.com and Etsywtf.com. When reading the comments following the item at the latter link, I was reminded that many people are not “on the same page” as the artists and instead resist or simply don’t understand attempts to reclaim words like “cunt.” Many people are also unprepared to embrace representations of our long-hidden genitalia as things of value and beauty—evidence that this form of popular education is so very necesary!