I’m delighted that, in a slew of cultural projects, discussion of vulvas takes centre stage
Are vulvas having a moment? It’s a ridiculous question, I know, given that more than half of us have them. It’s like asking if bicycles are finally fashionable, or if fingernails are now a thing. But in these supposedly enlightened times, our lady-parts continue to be overlooked, misunderstood, bossed about and violated. Still, it’s been heartening of late to see vulvas (or vaginas, or fannies, or foofs – let each woman decide what she calls what’s in her pants) discussed more openly, shown off in museums and celebrated on television and in books. This isn’t about the vulva-shaped soaps and cushions flooding gift shops, or Gwyneth Paltrow and her daft vaginal eggs. I’m talking about cultural conversations and artefacts that illuminate and educate us all on matters that, by rights, should be common knowledge.
Earlier this year, Channel 4 aired 100 Vaginas, a joyful, taboo-busting documentary in which Laura Dodsworth interviewed 100 women and photographed their vulvas. The series highlighted how little the issues that have most impact on women’s lives, from sexual violence to childbirth, infertility and menopause, are openly discussed. This spring, the pop-up Vagina Museum – the first of its kind in the world – opened in Camden, north London, with the hope of breaking the stigma surrounding women’s bodies and sexuality, and has since launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to secure a permanent home.