The naming of parts: a new frankness about vaginas

London Evening Standard

Liz Hoggard
26 Aug 2011

In the new Inbetweeners Movie, there is a jaw-dropping moment when the boys don pink “Pussay Patrol” T-shirts – and head off to “shoot clunge in a barrel”.

Clunge (a slang word for female genitalia) is the new C-word. There are whole Facebook pages devoted to its etymology. You can buy T-shirts, mugs and mouse mats emblazoned with the word, which has rapidly become a cult term among Inbetweeners devotees.

Writers on The Inbetweeners claim they made up the word to get past the censors when the original E4 series started. But it sounds like the sort of bawdy slang you might find in a Restoration comedy or Moll Flanders.

What’s undeniable is that there is a new frankness about the vagina in popular culture. And it’s not just the potty-mouthed Inbetweeners teens.

Today young female artists and craftspeople are making representations of the vulva – reclaiming the female body in all its 3D glory. The aim is to be out and proud about a neglected area of the body.

At ravelry.com (the collective of radical knitters), they’ll show you how to knit vagina purses. A London-based group called Fannying Around – with an unusual approach to feminism – held a life drawing class last week at Bethnal Green‘s The Pot where women were encouraged to draw themselves. At the class, called Private Portraits, women sat in front of a mirror and sketched their pudenda. It was a clear reference to the Seventies feminist practice of holding vagina parties during which women were encouraged to acquaint themselves with their vulvas using hand mirrors.

According to Sarah Berry, founder and host of Fannies Rule, the aim of these intimate, women-only classes is to get women more familiar with their bodies. Unsurprisingly music and wine help proceedings along.

But much of the new “vag art” also stems from direct action. Shoreditch Sisters WI are making a quilt comprised of beautiful hand-sewn vaginas to support a campaign against female genital mutilation. Over the past year it has gone from strength to strength, with more than 100 patches contributed from as far as France and the US.

 

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.