101 Vagina is for all ages

[This article was also published (slightly shorter version) in Ciao Magazine in print on online here:]

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The 101 Vagina Exhibition and Festival of the Vagina, both on in Sydney this week, are all ages events. Both children and adults are welcome to attend and yet some people may feel that they are not suitable for children. Why? Why should children not see, talk about, hear different words for, draw and reflect on vaginas? Are vaginas bad? Are penises bad? Mine isn’t, is yours?

The younger the children are, the more recently they have themselves just emerged from a vagina, after having been conceived through one. But in spite of this there seems to be a cultural fear around children and anything sex related coming within proximity of each other.

This is peculiar considering that children are the result of sex. We all are. We are all walking, talking, breathing sexual beings from birth to death.

Of course, children should be protected from sexual predators, but somehow, the valid and important concerns about sexual abuse have resulted in sex being given a blanket label, bad. We are inadvertently teaching our children that sex is bad. The act that led to their, all of our, existence is bad. Consider, what are the two most forbidden words in the English language? Fuck and cunt. Followed by dick, wanker, fuckwit, etc.

How unfortunate.

They should all be words of celebration, exuberance, joy, pleasure, freedom, love, etc.IMG_20130627_162739 640px

I personally believe that our entire culture, at a personal and societal level, is severely hobbled by sexual repression and suppression. Sexual and bodily guilt and shame arise out of judgement and fear. Importantly, I believe that this is causally related to sexual abuse. Not the only cause, but one of them. What motive would someone who is truly satisfied and comfortable in their sexuality have for imposing themselves sexually on anyone else? Rape is not an expression of sexual freedom, but of sexual repression.

The kind of guilt and shame so many of us walk around with about our bodies and sexuality does not arise naturally in us as children, it is taught to us by adults, whether directly or indirectly. It is adults who teach children that their bodies are to be hidden, not to touch themselves and not to say certain words. This means that it is up to us, the adults, to reverse this trend. We can’t expect the next generation to be free from sexual hangups and free from sexual aggression if we ourselves continue to act from this place.

Oh, and in case you think there isn’t a taboo around vaginas or penises, try talking openly about your own on a crowded train. If you can, without feeling even a tinge of discomfort, you’re in the vast minority.

One of the best ways to reverse guilt and shame is through open discussion and direct engagement. A child who has had open, honest, respectful and broad discussions about genitals and sexuality is far less likely to end up with feelings of shame and guilt about their own. It means they will be far less likely to fall victim to shame externally imposed from media, advertising or passing comments on the street. The knowledge they have about what’s normal acts like a shield which will keep the bullshit at bay.

But how are our children currently being initiated into sexuality? Through porn! Imagine if, instead, children were from infancy taught to respect their own and other people’s bodies, that they are the masters of their own, that no part of it is shameful, that pleasure is a birthright, and that sex can be a beautiful act of bonding, joy and pleasure? We’ve got a long way to go to get to that point.

There is a growing and international sex positive movement which is working to remove the negative stigma around genitalia and sexuality and the 101 Vagina Exhibition and Festival of the Vagina are proudly part of that movement.

What messages will children and adults alike come away with from these events? That vaginas are nothing to feel ashamed of and it’s ok to use the word vagina; we all look different and we’re all just fine the way we look; there are as many different experiences of our bodies and sexuality as there are people on the planet; we all still have a lot left to learn about our very own bodies.

Breaking taboos can be creative fun and no one needs to get hurt in the process. In fact, years of hurt can begin to be undone in the process.

Here is an excerpt from one of the messages written and deposited in the “Write your own vagina message” box:

“… I was thrilled to bring my 3 yr old daughter along, and set her on the path for having pride of her vagina, her self, her future pleasure, her body and it’s life giving abilities & to make sure she’s empowered! …”

Summer Confest notebook 2012-13

101 Vagina messages from notebook in the Chai tent at summer Confest 2012-13

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Dear Me,

Please don’t abandon me when you’re having sex and don’t put pressure on me with your expectations around orgasms.

Just let me enjoy the moment
and who I’m with.

Your Vagina

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I slowly descended through mother earth’s vagina & was reborn :)

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My Yoni is Yoniliciously full of unconditional love to Nathan xo

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Dear Vagina,

We started off a little rocky, I wanted so bad for you to be perfect and the knowledge of how to wield you. As I grew older I grew into you and we became friends. I stopped putting pressure on you, and you began to work with me. We became one, now you share my heart and soul, and for any imperfections or momentary lapsed of cooperation I wouldn’t change you for the world. Let us go forth, to love and light, to amazing sex and beautiful babies, together.

Love, Mother.

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Dear Vagina and dear Penis,

How are you doing and have you been enjoying yourself? I’ve been thinking that maybe you should exercise a little more every now and then because you will create more pleasure.

P.s. I personally think you are mighty fine.

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Dear Vagina,

Like a glowing lotus, you have planted the seed for my inner goddess. You bring sensitivity, nurturing, strength and empowerment.

As I let go to the full exploration of you and my soul, I find peace.

Thank you for showing the divine light in me, opening me up to the possibilities of connection with the Earth, my feminine energy and being open to receiving/honouring the masculine.

Peace and honour and truth.


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Dear Vagina,

I love you. I hate you.

I love the pleasure, the eruption and how you can bring me closer to nirvana.

I hate you for the spot of bother you can put me through by leading me astray. I think through you and not through my brain. It gets me in trouble sometimes.

I hope that with patience and time I can learn to only love you and love myself.

Be true to yourself.

Much love,
Jess. xoxo

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“Embrace our truly sacred cunts!”

“Growing up is a strange thing, and as a women you are usually taught to keep your vagina and all its taboos to yourself. We are very much conditioned in this society to feel embarrassed to speak up about sex, our moonflow (period), pap smears etc. How ridiculous. Women need to feel support from not just other women, but from men also. We can’t have men screwing up their faces at the term ‘period’ but see their faces light up as soon as ‘sex’ is mentioned. As far as I am concerned it is all sacred, as it is a place of pleasure and creation.

When I was younger I used to want surgery on my labia minor, as I have a-symmetrical vaginal lips. I waited years and years for one to catch up with the other! I like symmetry, and thought it was the universes way of bringing me out of my comfort zone.

I soon started to really respect the fact that I was a little different, and alas, found out I really wasn’t that different at all, because many women experience this. One of my friends told me that it was cute, because it looks like my vagina is poking its tongue out! Now my friends and I laugh about it, and they sometimes call me A-Sym, and I feel complete in the fact that I am me and I am beautiful. I would rather not live up to a playboy portrait. Lets get all the REAL women out here! and EMBRACE OUR TRULY SACRED CUNTS!”

Taj x