There’s no denying the fact that the female form, and it’s bits, in particular, have inspired artwork the world over. Tarsila do Amaral was inspired by it. Frida Kahlo and artists like Zilia Sánchez and Marta Minujín too. Women’s bodies are inspired and so they inspire. Still, a recent unveiling of vulva artwork has become so controversial and made people so besides themselves that it seems many have forgotten these truths about our bodies.
Over the weekend, Brazilian visual artist Juliana Notari revealed her latest sculpture, Diva, on a hillside at Usina del Arte. The art park is located in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco and is described by Notari as “a massive vulva / wound excavation.”
The massive sculpture created on the hillside located in northeastern Brazil features a bright pink vulva and has fueled what is being described as a cultural war.
Notari created Diva, a colorful 108-foot concrete and resin sculpture on the site of a former sugar mill. The mill was converted into an open-air museum in Pernambuco state. Last week, when Notari debuted the installation she revealed it was meant to depict both a vulva and a wound while questioning the relationship between nature and culture in a “phallocentric and anthropocentric society.”
“These issues have become increasingly urgent today,” Notari wrote in a post shared to her Facebook page which was shared alongside a series of photos of the sculpture. According to NBC, it took a team of 20 artisans 11 months to build the entire concept.
No surprise, the piece of art sparked a wave of controversy on social media, with critics and supports debating its message and significance.
Over 25,000 users have commented on Notari’s Facebook post so far including leftists and conservatives. On the far-right, supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro have also been vocal about their views of the product.
“With all due respect, I did not like it. Imagine me walking with my young daughters in this park and them asking … Daddy, what is this? What will I answer?” one user wrote in the Facebook section of the post.
“With all due respect, you can teach your daughters not to be ashamed of their own genitals,” a woman replied.
Notari, whose previous work has been displayed at various galleries explained on her Facebook page that she created the piece to comment on gender issues in general.
“In Diva, I use art to dialogue with…gender issues from a female perspective combined with a cosmopocentric and anthropocentric western society,” Notari shared on her post to Facebook. “Currently these issues have become increasingly urgent. After all, it is by changing perspective of our relationship between humans and nonhuman, that will allow us to live longer on that planet and in a less unequal and catastrophic society.”
While in many cultures and world and circles it might be considered tradition for a woman to “take” her husband’s last name, many women have opted to buck tradition. In 2017, a study found that nearly half of Americans believe women should be required by law to adopt the last names of their husbands. It’s a reminder that despite all of the progress we’ve made as women— where now we are able to drive on roads, drive the vote, and even drive entire companies— social conventions still have quite a ways to go.
Below, women are sharing the reasons why they didn’t change their last names.
“I hate the “isn’t your name a man’s name anyway” argument. When do I ever get to own my name? Men own their name from birth, apparently women just borrow their surname from their dad and then from their husband. It’s ridiculous.”- pan_alice
“I came here to reply but honestly you’ve said it perfectly.
My sister asked me ‘but what if you have children!?’ And I said ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ? A name does not a family make. My fiancé’s mum never changed her name. I haven’t heard of any legitimate reason why I should change my name.”- vanessaj1990
“The “but what about the children” argument I see from time to time on Reddit makes me laugh, because where I live, married women HAVE to keep their original surname, which means often families with children are “Mr Smith, Mrs Jones, and their kids Alex Smith, Bart Smith and Christine Smith”. AND NO ONE GETS CONFUSED.”- ChibiSailorMercury
“I was shocked when, after about a year, that the majority of the comments I got were “I wish I had kept mine.” There are a lot of rude people in the beginning, but the majority of people don’t give a fuck or think the idea is great.”- Pethoarder4life
“Big yes on being known professionally as my own name. I’m one year away from getting my MD. I’m the one earning that and the one who published research and did conference presentations. Not my partner.”- elwynbrooks
“I came here to say this but you said more eloquently than I ever could. It is MY name. Why change it? I informed people when asked I won’t be changing my name and neither will my husband.”- WINTERSONG1111
“I feel the exact same and have the same reasons as you for keeping my name!! My partner and I do want children so I’m trying to navigate that right now. Wonder if anyone has any tips abt that!!!”- TacoSluuut
“I don’t want to get married, but THIS, also I love my last name and don’t think I should change it cause of a man, I find it fucking sexist, where im originally from it doesn’t work that way, and I’m GLAD. I have an uncommon Dutch last name I can’t imagine changing it. Also if you marry and have kids your kids get both parents lasts names.”- sadqnn
“That’s same with my parents. They kept their last name but and my siblings have a hyphenated last name. Same with my cousin’s.”- -captaindumbass-
“I like my name, simple as that.
A lot of women in my family have kept our family name because it’s somewhat rare. There’s like 200 people with this surname, and about 50 of them are in my family, and most of us keep the name regardless of gender, when we marry.”- amazingstillitseems
“A childhood friend of mine only had a first name and a last name, (like, Mary Smith) when as far as I knew, everyone had a middle name. She explained that her father only gave her the two names, because one day she would marry and drop her middle name anyway. (And I thought, what if she didnt marry? Couldn’t she drop his name?) Even as a kid, I thought this was horrible reasoning.
In genealogical circles, this leads to Mary NMI Smith (No Middle Initial) and Mary NMN Smith (No Middle Name.)
“I’m a guy and dislike my last name and the people who gave it to me, I would honestly consider taking her name because fuck gender norms.”- arrowff
“I’m one of 2 people in the world with my exact surname, as far as I know. There’s no way I’m giving it up, and I hope my kids want to carry it on someday.”- TossItThrowItFly
“Same here. Married 14 years with two kids. Never changed my name. It’s been a complete non-issue. Occasionally my husband gets called “Mr. Mylastname” or I get called “Ms. Hislastname” but neither of us care.”- Misschiff0
“Im on my second marriage and both times my husband changed his name to mine. People kinda shrug when they figure out I didn’t change my name but I do get some open-mouthed stares when they realized that my husband changed his name…
I just don’t see any reason to change my name, my first husband found it convenient to change his with weird spelling and difficult pronunciation. For my second husband it was important to him that we had the same name, so he changed his.”- SteelQueenToo
“My father changed his name to my mother’s name as well, but I actually don’t really know why. I guess they liked it better? It is kind of random I guess. He just told me it can kind of suck because people don’t realise you are the same person if they lost touch or something.”- leedzah
“I didn’t change my name for all the reasons already cited about, but when someone sends me an invitation with Mrs [husband’s Last Name], I don’t even bother to correct them. I didn’t care about the hassles of changing mine and I made a name for myself professionally before I got married so I stood firm to not change mine. It raised a couple of eyebrows but my mother and her mum didn’t change theirs also, so pulling the cultural card really helped.
Speaking of culture, I come from one that places massive respect for the elder so it’s okay for some older relatives who can’t adjust as well or have bad memories to call me whatever, I will graciously respond to them as the Mrs.”-
“I didn’t want to take his name as I believe marriage is a partnership. We’re marrying each other, not me marrying him only. So we were going to choose a new surname together but one that was in the family to signify the unity but never really got it sorted so we still have our own surnames.
People always assume I have his surname or that we’re not married.”- Hulahoop81
“I grew up in a privileged area which had a very little variety of cultures. Being from an Eastern European background with a different surname, I was badly bullied for it as it wasn’t “normal”. This made me super embarrassed of it when I was younger. As I got older I grew to become very proud of my heritage and surname. Therefore, I kept it as its me. And I’m proud of it.
Edit: when I tell people the above, most people just say ‘fair enough.’”- natalieb07
“This. I’m from Puerto Rico, and people rarely do this. It’s actually considered weird when people do change their last name. We just have two last names: our father’s and our mother’s.
ETA: Forgot to say that, although not super common, it still happens. Some women keep their full last names, but then tack on their husband’s first last name with a “de” preceding it. Marta Quintero Arenas married Pedro Quiñones Balboa. She decides to keep both last names, but also wants to add her husband’s first last name? She could do Marta Quintero Arenas de Quiñones. The “de” is basically an ‘of.’”- chromachord
I can literally talk food until my babas drip. Don’t judge. The comelón life chose me and I’m not mad at it. Because growing up Latino meant breakfast wasn’t always cereal, and dinner wasn’t always mac and cheese. I grew up con más sabor en mis platillos than most Americans. And, at the time, I didn’t even realize that many of the foods my family was trying to get me to eat were ancestral foods. From chocolate to cocoa and chia to nopalitos, I blame los ancestros for my obsession with food and all the glorious ingredients that have been passed down for generations.
My knees already feel weak, fam, because today I’m gonna be talking nopalitos. Ya me estoy chupando los dedos, thinking back to how I grew up with these babies always in the refri in that Nopalitos jar, ready to be thrown into a sauce or encima de una carne asada. It turns out this soul-feeding food is one of the OG ancestral foods that have been used by our people for thousands of years. Ahí les va un poco de historia:
The Mexica introduced the world to the “fruit of the Earth.”
In Náhuatl, the word for nopal translates to “fruit of the Earth.” I don’t know what the Náhuatl word for “bomb-delicioso” is, but in my opinion, that should also be the name for nopales. And the Aztecs must have felt this way too because one of the most famous cities in the Aztec Empire – Tenochtitlán, the empire’s religious center – was named “prickly pear on a rock.” Iconic.
According to legend, the city was built after an Azteca priest spotted an eagle perched on a nopal plant, carrying a snake in its mouth. The priest, obviously extremadamente blown away by this, ran back to his village just so he could gather everyone to check out this crazy eagle with a snake in its mouth. As they watched, the cactus beneath the eagle grew into an island – eventually becoming Tenochtitlán. I’ll give you 3 seconds to just process that. 1…2…3. Please take more time if you need it. The image of the eagle carrying a snake, its golden talons perched on a nopal growing from a rock, can now be found on the Mexican flag.
Today, we know that the Mexica were right to call nopales the plant of life.
In Mexico, it’s still common to place a handful of nopal flowers in a bath to help relax achy muscles. And nopales are becoming more popular than ever in beauty treatments to help fight aging. But, y’all are too beautiful to be needing them for that, so let’s talk about what’s important — eating them.
There are so many ways you can mix this iconic ingredient into your meals.
We should all be eating our green foods. Your tía, your abuela, your primo, everyone…except your ex. Your ex can eat basura. I said what I said. But, nopalitos are especially important. These tenacious desert plants can be eaten raw, sautéed, pickled, grilled – they’re even used as pizza toppings. Though for some people, nopales – with their spines and texture – can be intimidating. After cutting off the spines and edges, and cutting them into slices, they will bleed a clear slime. But boiling for 20 minutes will take care of that. Or make it even easier on yourself and avoid espinas by buying them all ready-to-go from the brand we all know and love, DOÑA MARIA® Nopalitos.
Check it out, I’m even gonna hook it up with that good-good, because if you’re looking for ways to enjoy your nopales, I got’chu with some starter links to recipes: Hibiscus and Nopal Tacos, Nopal Tostadas, Roasted Nopales con Mole, and Lentil Soup con Nopales. One of my personal favorite ways to eat them is in a beautiful Cactus Salad, full of color and flavor. Trust. I rate these dishes 10 out of 10, guaranteed to make your babas drip, and when you eat this ensalada de nopalitos, you will remember even your ancestors were dripping babas over this waaay before it was cool to eat plant-based foods.
So let’s give the poderoso nopal the spotlight it deserves by adding it to our shopping lists more often.
Rich in history, mythology, and practical uses, the nopal’s enduring popularity is a testament to its versatility. It’s time to give this classic ingredient the respect it deserves and recognize just how chingon our ancestors are for making nopales fire before plantbase foods were even trending.
Next time you’re at the supermercado, do your ancestors proud and add nopales to your shopping cart by picking up a jar of DOÑA MARIA® Nopalitos. This easy-to-use food will definitely give you a major boost of pride in your roots. Viva los nopalitos bay-beh!