Photographer Laura Dodsworth's new project, Womanhood
February 10, 2019 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Me and My Vulva (NSFW) Dodsworth’s vulva shoots were a very different experience from Manhood [an earlier project by Dodsworth]. For many women, being photographed was the first time they had looked at this part of their body in close detail. “I feel like men were revealing themselves to a woman, in a sympathetic space,” Dodsworth says. “This time, women were revealing themselves to themselves. Some women were shaking, asking me if they were normal.” posted by bunderful (8 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Interesting project and worth discussion, but the seeming/possible stealth TERF-aligned assumptions set this up for failure, and there's probably a better way to frame that is more inclusive; please contact us to discuss! -- taz

Fascinating. I didn't get a chance to read all of the stories yet, but there's already so much I can relate to here. Chiefly, as a straight woman, I don't see vulvas that often. There's so much variety! So much. I don't think I'd be able to pick my own vulva out of a lineup, which is kind of sad. It, like the vast majority of women's sex organs, is so hidden and tucked away. Maybe as part of this self-care kick I've been on, I'll schedule in some time for vulva familiarisation and appreciation.
posted by Fig at 7:12 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]

Also.... Just in time for Vulventine's Day!
posted by Fig at 7:13 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]

I found the photos and mini-essays in the Guardian piece really thoughtful and beautiful. I especially loved the woman who spoke about feminist meetings in the 70s where women would get together and look at their own cervixes.

Even though I fervently embraced feminism in my late teens, I was almost 24 before I saw my own cervix. My gyno was a brisk, rangy, Scandinavian woman who shared her practice with a bunch of social- and reproductive-justice warrior/doctors in the Flatiron neighborhood. I loved the practice in general and her specifically, even as I was slightly intimidated by her radical competence and efficiency. When I got a job abroad and went in a bit early for my annual exam, she seemed pleased by my impending adventure and then took extra time to talk with me about my birth control and sexual health options. And then when I was up on the table, speculum in and mid-exam, she paused and suddenly said, “would you like to see your cervix?” I said yes and she pulled a contraption - essentially a hand mirror clamped to a mic stand on wheels - over in between my legs. She adjusted the angle and voila , I was staring at my own cervix! “Like a doughnut, no?” she said, holding up a clenched hand, “or like a little fist.”

Reader, to this day I think of a tense red velvet doughnut once a month.
posted by minervous at 7:32 PM on February 10 [18 favorites]

This award winning paper at the premier human-computer-interaction conference might also be of interest: On Looking at the Vagina through Labella
posted by recklessbrother at 9:54 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

I ask Dodsworth if it feels right to call a project about vulvas Womanhood, since it implies that sex equals gender. She tells me that none of her projects is a manifesto, or a dictionary definition of what it means to be a man or a woman. “It’s a chorus of voices. However, body parts play a very definitive part of what it is to be a man or a woman.”
Definitive, are they? No thank you.
posted by one for the books at 11:27 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]

Ahh, that vulva-based feminism. It's no surprise that this is in The Guardian, home of the terf thinkpiece.
posted by yaymukund at 2:09 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]

She tells me that none of her projects is a manifesto, or a dictionary definition of what it means to be a man or a woman. “It’s a chorus of voices. However, body parts play a very definitive part of what it is to be a man or a woman.”

That is a proper bullshit answer. It has all the linguistic accoutrements of compromise and reasonableness, then dives straight into "yes vulva = woman". She doesn't feel like she can really own her position, but she isn't willing to change it either, just make pointless mouth noises in the hope that it obscures her bigotry.
posted by Dysk at 2:23 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

That story from the 30-year-old who'd had labiaplasty is heartbreaking. I hope being part of this project helps her, and undoes some of the damage done by thinking for so long that her vulva was abnormal and unclean.
posted by Catseye at 2:31 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

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