One day last week, the idea of the Flying Vulva came to me and I immediately knew it was a powerful image.
At the time, I couldn’t articulate why, besides that the wings were obviously a symbol of freedom.
I knew enough about the stylized and symbolic images of vulva’s from seeing them represented in the ancient Goddess culture. To make the image my own, I looked at photographs of vulva’s.
I think what surprised me the most was that it made me realize that I haven’t seen a lot of vulva’s in photographs or in person. (After seeing “Fried Green Tomatoes” I did look at my vagina in a mirror, but hadn’t thought about doing it before then) It’s true that unlike breasts and penises they’re hidden, but I was actually surprised to see how different vulva’s can be from one another. It just seemed to me like I should have known that.
Seeing the pictures of vulva’s I was immediately reminded of the images of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I saw the clitoris as her head and the clitoral hood her shawl. She’s surrounded by labia and her red dress is the vaginal opening.
I used the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to help inform my drawing. I made the clitoris a golden spiral (an ancient symbol of energy found all over world). And the whole vulva is nestled in the pubic triangle which the wings sprout from.
Once I came up with the image of what the Flying Vulva would look like, I could see that the idea of the Vulva having freedom could be interpreted in different ways.
There’s the freedom of a woman to have control over her own body. There’s sexual freedom. The freedom of orgasm. Which for a woman, most often occurs by stimulating the clitoris (a part of the vulva) and not during sex involving the penis and vagina.
This idea is at the heart of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
In some cultures, parts of the vulva are cut and removed so men can still have intercourse with woman and women can still bear children, but sex is no longer pleasurable and is often painful.
It comes from the belief that there’s something dirty, disgusting or amoral about a woman’s body and her enjoying sex.
Of course a woman or girl doesn’t need the threat of cutting off her genitals for this attitude to prevail. We’ve done it in our society though our beliefs and attitudes toward women.
I saw it very clearly on my Facebook page and in the comments on my blog when I first posted a picture of my Flying Vulva.
The Flying Vulva is personal and political.
For me it’s a symbol of this new wave of feminism I see happening around me. Where women have a voice not as a woman trying to fit into a man’s world, but as a woman bringing what it means to be a woman into that world. Changing that system to adjust to her point of view too.
I see it happening in all the women who are running for political office this year. And I see it happening in all the small businesses that are run by women.
I even see it in the Co-op in my small Upstate NY town of Cambridge, where the managers position is held by two women, who work collaboratively, each trusting the other to do what they do best. They don’t need a King who supposedly has all the answers and they don’t want to be the Queen either.
And what a perfect vehicle the Potholder is for this symbol. The potholder in the tradition of Women’s Work, to remind us of our everyday power.
This is where my Flying Vulva came from.
I have 8 Flying Vulva Potholders for sale in my Etsy Shop. My Flying Vulva Potholders are sold out, but I will be making more. They’re $25 each + Shipping. You can see them all and buy them here or by clicking on the big orange Etsy Icon on the top of my blog.