Fresh from the fertile and fiercely independent mind of Maria, the new Vulva Pillow, sketched on an old hanky and hand-stitched. It is on sale now for $85 on Etsy. The Vulva series began with the Vulva potholders and is evolving into notecards and stickers.
A small but vocal number of people – women, mostly, to my surprise, were offended by Maria’s artistic representation of the vulva, which is not the same thing as the vagina. Some thought it was “repulsive”, some used the word “disgusting,” and some thought it was just plain old “offensive.”
It is true that outrage and criticism are louder than praise, and Maria found there is a large and admiring audience for her Vulva work, and also that a number of women wrote her to say they would love Vulva art but were somewhat afraid to buy some. She has sold a lot of Vulva art.
I would buy this pillow in a second for our living room, but I am banned from buying her art. She thinks it isn’t fair, that it should go out into the world.
If the Fuddy Duddies, as I call them, thought their grumbling would stop my wife, they must live in those states that sell marijuana legally.
Maria loves the idea of the vulva, and sees it – accurately, from my reading – as a powerful symbol of feminism and of the need for women to stop hating their bodies, or permit men to make them hate their bodies.
As a man, I was quite shocked by some of the vitriolic, even hateful messages I got about putting the Vulva potholders up on my blog, although many people were thoughtful and civil in their objections or discomfort, I should say in fairness.
People said it would be deeply offensive to them if Maria made Penis Potholders (sorry, she has and sold them all) or if any artist used the male penis in their art. I guess they have not ever been to Florence to see Michelangelo’s David, penis and all, or visited any great museum in the world, or the Vatican Art Collection, which has penises and vaginas galore.
I think the Fuddie-Duddies might want to check out George O’Keefe’s beloved and much praised vagina and vulva art – I’m not aware of anyone calling it disgusting or repulsive.
For thousands of years, artists have created representations of the male and female human body, it is only recently that people thought it disgusting or offensive. Personally, I find the vulva quite beautiful and powerful, and I am quite proud of my wife for seeking to capture the Vulva as a symbol of the lost but now growing power of women.
Art like this is not created to offend or titillate, there is nothing pornographic, or even specific about it. If you look at the news, it is clear that something very powerful is happening to women in our world. There is no shame in a vulva.
And there is nothing disgusting to me about this pillow. I believe the person who buys it will be fortunate to have so interesting and thoughtful and striking a piece of art. Down with Old Fartism in all of its many ingrained forms.
And down with the shaming of women and their bodies, or men either, for that matter.
The Vulva Pillow is going up on Maria’s Etsy Page even as I speak. I doubt it will stay there for long. Good work, wonderful woman, your art lives in your heart and spirit and sails out into the world like our better angels.