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A Recent Poll Says More Than Half Of Women Could Not Identify The Vagina On A Diagram

Museums, by definition, are institutions that conserve collections of objects and artifacts of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific significance. Of course, this significance is almost always influenced by a museum’s location—the Dalí Theatre-Museum surely belongs in the town of Figuieres, Spain, where Dalí lived and died, and the Blue House is the only place that could adequately capture the lives of Frida and Diego. It’s true that traveling exhibits can bring new knowledge to museums around the world, but a museum’s permanent installations are what really define its impact. As more than half the planet’s population possesses a vagina, the new Vagina Museum in London’s Camden Market is no exception. With its educational posters, sculptures, and feminist-focused gift shop, it boasts content of truly universal (and gynecological) importance.

Fueled by a goal to end stigma, support reproductive justice and promote public health initiatives, London’s Vagina Museum is the first of its kind.

credit: Instagram/@vagina_museum

Unlike Reykjavik’s famous Phallological Museum—a space densely packed with nearly 300 penile specimens from local animals—the Vagina Museum focuses on disseminating information, rather than putting biological samples on display. Even so, visitors might expect the Vagina Museum to resemble a sex museum (which, no joke, exist all over the world, from New York to Amsterdam to Barcelona), showing examples of early pornography or ancient Stone Age dildos. But in lieu of tangible collections, the Vagina Museum is dominated by its first exhibition, Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How to Fight Them, comprised mostly of informational panels that address and shatter long-held myths about vaginal health.

“The anatomy has such complex politics around it that we found it was best to first engage people through what they know, so we can teach them things they don’t know,” said Sarah Creed, the museum’s curator, to The New York Times. “We can talk about cold, hard facts all we want, but that’s not going to change people’s minds. It’s all about unpacking social constructs and changing perspective through engagement.”

While the space itself is quite small, Florence Schechter, the museum’s founder and director, takes advantage of the museum’s intimate atmosphere to fully realize this intention. A single room with exposed brick and wood floors, the museum feels comfortable and safe, inviting people—of all genders, sexes, and ages—to enter and learn about the nuances of the female anatomy (a subject that is still widely and unnecessarily taboo). To Schechter, this information is of particular importance to visitors who themselves possess this anatomy.


“According to a recent poll, more than half the women couldn’t identify the vagina on a diagram,” she said to The Daily Beast.

credit: Isabel Infantes/Getty Images

3-D drawings and sculptures serve as original, customized extensions of the information on the posters, helping to distill and demonstrate the educational content hanging from the walls. Schechter emphasizes the necessity of these creative renderings, affirming that her museum is not rooted in the questionable, largely patriarchal tradition of “steal[ing] some stuff from Africa, put[ting] it in a building, and pretend[ing] it’s a really good thing”—to Schechter, the Vagina Museum is about connecting with its visitors in a way that is current and relevant, focusing instead on “sharing a particular story.”

With her plan to run two exhibitions per year, covering everything from human cervical health to reproduction in the animal kingdom, Schechter intends to take full advantage of this new brick-and-mortar space. On its very first day, the museum drew large, eager crowds, which seems to bode well for the museum’s future.

The Vagina Museum currently has a two-year lease on its Camden Market property, with plans to expand when the contract ends in 2021.

credit: Angus Young/The Daily Beast

“The ultimate goal is to build a permanent museum, but that takes a lot of time and resources. This is like our starter home,” Schechter told the New York Times. The Vagina Museum team has expressed surprise at the public’s positive reception, though they’ve also conceded that the internet has been difficult to navigate. 

“Algorithms are set to assume that anything with the word ‘vagina’ in it is adult content or porn,” said Development and Marketing Manager, Zoe Williams. “Our emails go to spam and our online ads get rejected, and it’s all because of stigma.” The hope is that by challenging this stigma with its educational approach, the museum—and other emergent institutions that are sure to crop up in its wake—will not continue to face this sort of issue in the future.

Fortunately, word of the Vagina Museum has spread organically, and people have continued to flock there in pursuit of knowledge, support, and camaraderie. 

“I would like people to leave the Vagina Museum knowing that there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” said Schechter. “I want to get rid of the stigma, so we can start making progress towards equal rights and protecting women around the world.”  

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If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Culture

If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Bettman Archives / Getty Images

So many of us have been moved the art of the late Frida Kahlo. Even in death she’s gone on to inspire entire generations with her Surrealist self-portraits, lush depictions of plant and animal life, and magical realist tableaux. Not to mention her incredible life story.

She also inspired future generations of artists, many of whom are alive today creating beautiful works of art. These are just a few of the artists who have similar techniques, subjects, and styles to Frida Kahlo that you’ll definitely love if you’re a fan of Frida Kahlo.

Maria Fragoso – Mexico City

Credit: Teach Me Sweet Things / Theirry Goldberg Gallery

Influenced by the style and narratives of Mexican surrealists and muralists, Maria Fragoso creates work that celebrates her Mexican culture, while also addressing notions of gender expression and queer identity. Her brightly colored canvases offer voyeuristic glimpses into intimate moments, with subjects engaging in acts that seem at once seductive and mischievous—often while gazing directly out at the viewer.

Recently featured in Forbes’s “30 Under 30” in the “Art and Style” category, the 25-year-old artist is quickly rising to prominence. Born and raised in Mexico City, Fragoso moved to Baltimore in 2015 to pursue her BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. While in school, Fragoso was the recipient of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship at the Yale Norfolk School of Art. Since graduating, she has completed residencies at Palazzo Monti and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Nadia Waheed – Austin, Texas

Credit: Message from Janus / Mindy Solomon Gallery

Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Austin, Texas–based artist Nadia Waheed explores notions of relocation, displacement, and vulnerability in her work. Her life-size figurative paintings are both allegorical and autobiographical—the female figures represent her own lived experiences, as well as the multifaceted identities of all women.

Rodeo Tapaya – Philippines

Credit: Nowhere Man / A3 Art Agency

Rodel Tapaya paints dreamlike, narrative works based on myths and folklore from his native Philippines. Drawing parallels between age-old fables and current events, Tapaya reimagines mythical tales by incorporating fragments of the present. “In some way, I realize that old stories are not just metaphors. I can find connections with contemporary time,” Tapaya said in a 2017 interview with the National Gallery of Australia. “It’s like the myths are poetic narrations of the present.”

While the content of Tapaya’s work is inspired by Filipino culture, his style and literary-based practice is heavily influenced by Mexican muralists and Surrealist painters such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. Often working at a large scale, Tapaya has been commissioned to create several site-specific murals, including one for Art Fair Philippines in February 2020.

Leonor Fini – Buenos Aires

Credit: Les Aveugles / Weinstein Gallery

Long overlooked in favor of male Surrealists, Leonor Fini, a contemporary of Kahlo, was a pioneering 20th-century force. Known for having lived boldly, Fini is recognized for her unconventional lifestyle, theatrical personality, and avant-garde fashion sense. Born in Buenos Aires in 1907, Fini was raised by her mother in Trieste, Italy. She taught herself to paint and first exhibited her work at the age of 17.

Fini had one of her first solo exhibitions at age 25 with a Parisian gallery directed by Christian Dior. Her work was then included in the groundbreaking exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism” at MoMA in 1936, while at the same time she had her first New York exhibition with Julien Levy Gallery. Today, Fini’s work is represented in many major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Ramon Alejandro – Miami

Credit: Eternal Life / Latino Art Core

José Ramón Díaz Alejandro, better known as Ramon Alejandro, paints idyllic still lifes of tropical fruits set in ethereal landscapes. The surrealistic compositions have a similar spirit to Kahlo’s less iconic but equally masterful still-life works

Coming from a long lineage of artists, Alejandro grew up with the artworks of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and uncle adorning the walls of his childhood home. After growing up in Havana, Alejandro was sent to live in Argentina in 1960 amidst political turmoil in Cuba, and has continued to live in exile since then.

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett Just Issued Her First Opinion In Abortion Case And Cast Doubt On Future Of Roe V. Wade

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett Just Issued Her First Opinion In Abortion Case And Cast Doubt On Future Of Roe V. Wade

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

It was no secret that if the Republican Party and Donald Trump got their way with the Supreme Court, that women’s health and reproductive rights would be under attack. Well, Trump installed his new justice, Amy Coney Barrett, to the court in November and she’s just issued her first opinion in a case related to access to abortion.

Amy Coney Barrett handed a victory to the White House and Conservatives regarding abortion.

Since taking her seat on the Supreme Court in November, Justice Coney Barretts’ opinions have escaped much scrutiny. However, her latest opinion in an abortion-related case is drawing scrutiny from both the left and the right for clues of how she might rule in the future.

The decision, issued despite objection from the court’s more liberal judges, reinstates a requirement for patients to pick up the drug, mifepristone, in person. Three lower courts had blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s in-person pick-up requirement for mifepristone during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the risks of contracting COVID-19 at a doctor’s office or a hospital.

Julia Kaye, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, called the court’s decision “chilling” and one that “needlessly” endangers “even more people during this dark pandemic winter.”

In an interview with NPR, she added that people of color, like Black and Latinx patients, are at particular risk for health risks posed by COVID-19. Requiring them to go to a doctor’s office in person to pick up the drug threatens the health and lives of those patients, she said.

It’s the first abortion-related decision since last year’s swearing in of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose presence on the high court bench ensured a new conservative majority. Abortion-rights advocates have been fearful of what a conservative majority could do to chip away at legal protections for abortion.

On the surface, this week’s abortion ruling is fairly minor but it has many women worried.

Credit: Phil Walter / Getty Images

In its ruling, the Court didn’t release a majority opinion, which means that the case doesn’t explicitly change existing legal doctrine. And the case concerns a policy that the Biden administration could likely reverse after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

But, when you read between the lines, the case – FDA v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – warns of a dark future for abortion rights and women’s health.

The premise of pro-abortion rights decisions like Roe v. Wade (1973) is that the Constitution provides special protection to the right to an abortion that it doesn’t provide to other elective medical procedures. Yet, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor explains in dissent, American College effectively rules that a commonly used abortion drug may be regulated more harshly than any other legal medication.

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