I never really gave it much thought—my vagina that is.
I only time I paid it any attention, let alone looked at it, was during that time of the month. I will admit that on occasion I was curious, like when I brushed it a certain way to get that funny but pleasurable sensation. I was too shy to masturbate though.
To me, a vagina was just another part of my body, tucked in between my legs, never to be seen, unless I went into to contortions, but what was the point.
Growing up, my mother never really talked about sex, other than as a laughing matter, while watching Benny Hill or over naughty cards her girlfriends. Vagina was a hush, hush word. Breasts were the sexually noticeable part of a woman’s anatomy—round, voluptuous and prime to get a boy’s attention. But vaginas are what make us women, capable of self-satisfaction and pleasure.
The ability to pleasure oneself, is a necessary component of healthy self-esteem. Ice cream, dancing to a favorite song and shopping are fun, but knowing how to make ourselves feel good sexually is equally, if not more, important. Although I was timid at first, I learned that masturbation is part of living a healthy life.
Stress reduction, migraine relief and reducing blood pressure are some of the benefits of masturbation. But before we reap those benefits, we need to have a healthy relationship with our vagina. Personally, I cannot look at images of vaginas in a textbook. It feels cold and clinical, like a gynecologist’s office.
I found greater appreciation for my vagina when I saw the art of Egon Scheile. While he keeps the beautiful pink hues, he adds the come hither look of lacy panties or high black boots. It’s girly and fun, but with an erotic tone that speaks to both women and men. He shows women dressed up and pleasuring themselves; in vulnerable positions with legs spread apart. But never weak.
In Scheile’s work, these women are enjoying themselves while boldly exposing their pleasure.
Artist Stephanie Sarley brings out the powerful nature of vaginas in a more pop culture way. Her depiction of genitals have endless possibilities—capable of many things, feeling many sensations—like an adventure waiting to be explored. There are colorful portrayals of vaginas smoking cigarettes and sipping martinis.
Sarley believes that vaginas are not something to be ashamed of. They can do just about anything.
And that is the point. Vagina art is more than just creative expression, it is the starting point of a new sexual dialogue with ourselves. It is an invitation to explore, use and converse with our vaginas in a way that leads to pleasure. This art shows that vaginas are not just that place between a woman’s legs, but a center of power, beauty and yes, attention.
It’s time we explore them freely, proudly, openly and without shame.
Author: Jane CoCo Cowles
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Stephanie Sarley/Instagram