The Vagina Dialougues

When you want to get readers’ attention, there are a few theories.hs2

One is that you hit them over the head with a sledgehammer, punch or kick them in sensitive areas of the body and set their hair on fire.

Another is that you provide a simple visual message that draws the reader in, provokes them and yet doesn’t have them running for an Advil, a fire extinguisher and a bag of frozen peas.

And both have their place.

The honi soit at the University of Sydney in Australia recently chose the former. And it is getting lots of buzz.

The paper put the pictures of 18 vaginas belonging to women that attend the university on its cover. Why?
In an opinion piece, the publication’s staff said this:

We are tired of society giving us a myriad of things to feel about our own bodies. We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas. We are tired of vaginas being either artificially sexualised (see: porn) or stigmatised (see: censorship and airbrushing). We are tired of being pressured to be sexual, and then being shamed for being sexual.

The pictures are not sexual at all. But they are vaginas. So are they filthy? Well, that’s kind of the point of the whole thing, isn’t it? Let’s have that discussion. Aren’t our reproductive organs just functional body parts like a hand or a foot?
Why is an objectionable man a prick and an objectionable woman a cunt?

It is a great topic for a think piece.

And the editorial asks some good questions.

It’s telling that the women who participated in the creation of this cover found the experience to be liberating. It’s because we need liberation. Just before we went to print, we were told that our cover was illegal, possibly criminal. But why? According to the SRC’s legal advice, this publication might be “obscene” or “indecent”, likely to cause offence to a “reasonable adult”. But what is offensive or obscene about a body part that over half of the Australian population have? Why can’t we talk about it – why can’t we see it? Why is that penises are scrawled in graffiti all around the world, but we can’t bear to look at vaginas?

So would you have run such a cover? How would your adviser react? hscover
I can’t answer that as an adviser, myself. But I find it sadly ironic that somewhere, someone is saying honi soit has a lot of balls. And thereby making the very point.

Note: Tomorrow, I will post three alternative covers to the one at the top (uncensored) and the one to the right (as modified). Comments invited.

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