From giant inflatable boobs to a brick and mortar vagina museum, London is the spot for body celebration and empowerment. Similarly, to the massive breasts that adorned London city, this upcoming vagina museum has a significant message and purpose behind its initial shock factor.
When I first mentioned the word ‘vagina’, did you physically cringe or feel a slight discomfort? If you didn’t, congratulations you are in-tune with the gynaecological anatomy, but if you did (which most people would), this vagina museum is targeted at you.
The bluntly named Vagina Museum, due to open in November in central London, is not established just so immature teenage boys can ooo and aaa at the unknown wonders of the female anatomy like, “Ohh, this is what a Clitoris is?”
On the contrary, the museum is set to bring forth serious issues regarding the stigmatisation of vaginas as well as topics that rotate around the same axis. From urging women to go on regular gynaecological check-ups to addressing sensitive subjects such as rape, genital mutilation and menstruation, this establishment is adamant on spearheading a change when it comes to how women view their own bodies as well as how men view them.
As part of their marketing so they can get enough funding to realise this dream, the team behind the Vagina Museum crocheted clitorises in exchange for donations. This ingenious idea led to £35,929 raised which is still roughly £94,000 shy of their goal. This donation will go into creating an educational shrine to vaginas, vulvas and the broader gynaecological anatomy.
The woman behind this madness is Florence Schechter who was inspired by Iceland’s Phallological Museum which displays penises from animals. Due to this discovery, she ultimately decided, “Why the hell not?” and began building on her Vagina Museum idea. Thankfully so because Schechter unravelled a long line of history that dates to modern day of women who are still embarrassed by their genitalia.
According to doctors, 65% of 16-25 year old women say they have a problem using the words ‘vagina’ or ‘vulva’, which leads to women having fears about visiting a doctor to discuss gynaecological concerns.
You don’t have to go very far or bury yourself in heaps of research to see evidence of women penalising themselves for the way their bodies look or how it functions. Just ask yourselves or your daughters, sisters, nieces and aunts, when was the first time someone has made fun of you or made you feel less-than because of your sex?
Of course, we have all experienced our fair share of timidity when we whisper, “Hey, do you have an extra pad?” or when we tuck our sanitary pads in our back pocket while walking to the restroom because, God forbid, people knew we were on our ghastly period!
To make matters worse, in Malaysia, the ubiquitous selling of jamu, Obat Ketat and vaginal bleach has become increasingly prevalent when its brand ambassadors tend to parade themselves on social media. For those unaware, jamu and Obat Ketat thrive under the pressures local women face from society to be tight, fair, and vivacious sexual creatures.
Fittingly, these glorified placebos are sold by women who, in my eyes, look like jesters to please the men who act as kings.
Apart from that, female genital mutilation is still an ongoing debate that bifurcates Malaysians. Some are in favour of the practice, stating that it is engrained in Malaysian culture while others vehemently oppose it. Journalists over at R.AGE have produced an entire documentary and in-depth dive into the ‘custom’. Check it out and decide for yourself.
Circumnavigating back to the Vagina Museum, I personally feel it is a welcomed surprise. Issues revolving around the female sex has been a topic of hushed discussions for centuries and it is time to bring it to the forefront. Maybe then we can say ‘vagina’ and not have people furrow eyebrows at us.
For more information, visit their website.
To read an interview with the founder of the museum, click here.