By Thomas A. Foster
As you may well be aware, there is a spa in New York City that sells vajazzling. The flash and style of adding sparkling, jewel-like plastic to denim can also be accomplished for the vagina. Is our current, historically unprecedented, public focus on the vagina finally succeeding in creating a female cultural counterpoint to the penis? Are we nearing total equality of the sexes? The popular emphasis on the vagina is certainly on the rise. The explosive popularity of the Vagina Monologues, now regularly performed on college campuses, made many more comfortable with the V word. Social critic Naomi Wolf has recently argued for the existence of the “mind-vagina”connection. Commercials coyly refer to the letter V for various feminine products and sitcoms and singers laud their own embrace of the vajayjay as a way of indicating equal sexual footing with men. “Designer” vaginas are also part of this new emphasis. Cosmetogynecology is one of the fastest growing types of cosmetic surgery.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
This past May, I attended the annual meeting of the Western Association of Women Historians, which is one of my favorite history conferences (I’m pretty sure there is no other history organization that concludes its awards banquet with a sing-a-long). Usually I hate to miss any of the sessions. But this year, I snuck off with Cheryl Lemus and another historian (I’ll call her L) to do a little “mentoring” in the shops of Berkeley. This isn’t totally facetious, as we were on a mission: to find me a properly fitted sports bra. I had started running a few months earlier, and while I had great shoes and a snazzy outfit, certain other areas of my anatomy were feeling less well-equipped. Cheryl and L are seasoned runners, and they were appalled by my bounce. So, we headed to the only place where any self-respecting women’s historian would go for such things: Title IX Sports.
By Helen McBride
It’s no surprise that laws concerning family planning have remained within a grey area in Ireland. Following the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar’s death, Amnesty International has called upon Ireland to clean up its act. Halappanavar entered University Hospital, Galway on 21st October due to severe back pain. This back pain was diagnosed as a symptom of a miscarriage, being 17 weeks pregnant at the time. Halappanavar later died on 28th October, the cause being classified as septicaemia. The situation has been explained by Halappanavar’s husband that upon discovering the miscarriage, they repeatedly asked for a medical termination, as Halappanavar was in substantial pain. This request was denied repeatedly over three days. RTE has outlined the timeline of events.
By Rachel Epp Buller
Last weekend I attended the 3rd annual Feminist Art History Conference at American University in Washington, D.C. While it was great to be surrounded by scholars with similar research interests, I found myself wondering how much longer we (as feminist scholars) will feel the need for a separate sphere, so to speak.
To be sure, conferences and organizations devoted to women’s histories have performed, and continue to perform, important roles. We offer alternative voices to patriarchal histories, not only recuperating individual women but reexamining through the lens of gender the kinds of histories that are told. We make visible marginalized herstories.
By Heather Munro Prescott
During the presidential election there were a number of speculations about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s views on women, including horror stories circulated about his “shameful” behavior while serving as an elder in the LDS church. This led some to assume that the LDS church as a whole is poisonous for women.
By Rachel Epp Buller
Having made and studied art for quite a few years now, I find that issues in contemporary culture often lead my mind to wander to art historical references. “Binders full of women,” equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights – it all leads me back to art. For instance, over the centuries we’ve seen a consistent historical pattern of interest among male artists in representing the vagina – Leonardo da Vinci, Gustave Courbet, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Christian Schad, to name only a few (see also TimeOut New York’s recent survey of the vagina in art, heavily populated by male artists). But it’s only in recent decades that women artists have turned to the vagina as subject (object?).
By Cheryl Lemus
Well I have to be honest with you all, unlike most of my fellow Nursing Clio authors, Carrie, Adam, and Ashley, I did not finish Vagina: A Biography. Each and every time I opened the book, with the full intention of reading a chapter, two to three pages in, I dozed off. I did manage, finally, to get through some of the chapters and in the end, I found myself not really caring about the vagina as a goddess. I had one thing in mind when I first started this piece, where I was going to discuss what sort of vagina my vagina wanted to be and then Tuesday night’s debate aired. Well wouldn’t you know it, Romney made the brilliant “binders full of women,” comment (it is has to be up their with “I like trees,” but maybe not), and it made me think about how it connects to Wolf’s book. Throughout history the vagina has been put into neat little categories, binders if you will, that have been used to define, stigmatize, and even defile women. Our vaginas have defined us as sex objects, mothers, weaker employees, and victims, while at the same time branded us emotional, irrational, and fragile. So how does this relate to Wolf, you ask? It’s simple, Wolf wants to place the vagina into another binder labeled “Vagina as Goddess,” and it is another category that in the end, will bite women in the ass. The vagina is NOT a goddess and therefore we are NOT goddesses.
By Adam Turner
Vagina Week continues! With this post by Adam Turner on Naomi Wolf’s use of Science! in her new book, Vagina: A Biography. Naomi Wolf uses a whole lot of science in her new book, Vagina: A Biography (perhaps more accurately called an autobiography). She lectures at length about the nervous system, stress responses, brain chemistry, and how all of these things seem to have their center in powerful mind-altering (heterosexual, vaginal) sex. Taking her personal experiences as a jumping-off point (itself a dubious scientific technique) Wolf references a wide variety of studies to make her argument that the vagina, broadly defined, is a driving force in women’s lives, responsible for their happiness, successful relationships, creativity, and existential health.
By Carrie Adkins
It is officially “Vagina Week” here at Nursing Clio. Carrie Adkins, Adam Turner, Ashley Baggett, Rachel Epp Buller, and Cheryl Lemus will each post their thoughts about Naomi Wolf’s new book, Vagina: A Biography, and dissecting some of Wolf’s claims about vaginas, orgasms, and female sexuality. Please consider posting your own thoughts in the comments section!
Carrie Adkins kicks off “Vagina Week” with an overall analysis of Wolf’s book:
By Sean Cosgrove
Julia Gillard (Australian’s current, and first female, Prime Minister) has made waves both at home (which for me is Australia) and overseas after her explosive speech calling out the leader of the opposition (currently Tony Abbott) for not only being sexist but fostering an environment of sexism and misogyny.
You can read about it everywhere. Seriously, everywhere: The BBC, The Australian (and again) The Conversation, Crikey, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Jezebel, The New Yorker, The Vine.