Looking back and down-under for a moment
Spurred on my last mini-blog and the imaginings evoked of the former Rugby League star Todd Carney’s penis in the act of ‘bubbling’ urine into his own mouth, one dear mate wrote the following astute, hilarious commentary which I had to share with you: ‘Bubbling had a short life in the media. It may have something to do with the notoriety of its high priest. I was waiting for other celebs to come clean along the lines of “I bubbled first …”, “Bubbling saved my life ….” etc. You can imagine Todd at BA meetings standing up, “I am a bubbler”. What a penalty for a prank! His friend is chastised for taking a photograph of Todd bubbling but, really, why else would you do it? Autobubbling, I ask you?’
I trust you enjoyed these delicious words; I certainly did. Another friend sidled up to me and whispered she didn’t really understand what bubbling was – obviously she doesn’t follow the very physical highs and lows of Rugby League. Her partner and I put her straight on this peculiarly masculine activity.
Unpacking the phallus/ penis conundrum
That is all for now on the bottom-feeding antics, the dizzying heights and mind-boggling depths of male genitalia stories, although I reserve the right to mine this rich seam whenever appropriate, checking out the latest thinking, research activity etc in all micro and macro masculinity departments. Senator of this realm, the inimitable Jacqui from PUP said on breakfast radio that her ideal man should be ‘well hung’… for a while that comment whetted my writer’s appetite for contemplating again the ideal and and reality of phalluses/ penises, but I am holding back today. Anyway I think Clementine Ford has quite illuminating things to say on this very topic:
Aside: I do recall a funny relevant moment after a lecture I gave on Advertising back in the day, in a huge cavernous lecture theatre on a faraway campus that time forgot, when a couple of my male tutors came up to me afterwards and jokingly said – “Helen just to let you know – we counted the words ‘phallic symbol’ at least 8 times in that lecture. That’s a couple more phalluses than last semester.” I replied that, of course, there is a lot of it about…and the students should be alerted over and over to the power of semiotics and all-pervasive patriarchal symbolism very early in their academic journey in media studies. So the more I say it and demonstrate it visually, the more they would understand what kind of world we live in…My tutors were heartened and went forth to spread the word in their classes.
Vaginal texting and imaginings
What I really want to concentrate on in this blogisode is the more tasteful, more erotic topic of vaginas (not quite sure how to illustrate this blog…hence the word imaginings above) Vaginas have been on my mind lately, for a number of reasons, not the least being related to the final comforting words regarding my personal vaginal state-of-play by the sweet gynaecologist who saved my life and sanity recently.
Also another friend recently sent a group of us an interesting link about the ‘latest’ fad of discovering and exploring the erotic potential of one’s own vagina – http://www.scribd.com/doc/232510622/masturbation-workshop. On reading this piece regarding female masturbation and fourth-wave feminism, memories of second-wave Seventies’ feminism came rushing back e.g. consciousness-raising groups, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem (“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”) etc etc. This was very empowering, even life-changing of course at the time, and I am glad there is a notable, new iteration of such philosophy and practices.
Vaginal warrior that I was in my academic life, occasionally I would score a win in my classes when teaching feminisms. I used to give lectures on feminist research to many post-graduate students and several, both men and women, would often come up and say they were delighted and enlightened, realising they were actually feminists (or wanted to be), now that they understood what the philosophy and the practices meant. That was very fulfilling for me. In a research design lecture, I often used an example of a research project I was engaged in, on the practice of removing bodily/pubic hair via waxing etc. More on that topic possibly another time, though of course it is all inter-related when exploring vagina-land. I also have particularly dark thoughts on unnecessary cosmetic surgery being performed on women’s labias and vaginas…
As a google link says on vaginoplasty and labiaplasty – ‘More recently, vaginoplasty has grown into a group of cosmetic surgeries marketed as “vaginal rejuvenation” and “designer vagina” procedures. Plastic surgeons and gynecologists are marketing their own array of designer vaginoplasty surgeries, claiming the same benefits to women as with other cosmetic surgeries, such as beauty, self-esteem, and confidence. In fact…women’s genitals naturally have a wide range of normal appearances that are anatomically correct. There’s no one “look” or right way for a vagina and labia to be formed.’
Stand up, sit down comedy
I especially want to turn away from the dark side and celebrate today the fact that I am very lucky to hang out with an abundance of very wonderful, witty women, in fluid groupings, some overlapping, all amazingly, colourfully webbing and woofing their sparkling wackiness and wisdom into the complex tapestry of my life. In several of these crossover groupings, the buzzy bawdy conversations are always hair-raising, provocative and, to us,at least, very very funny.
Lately, the topic of celebrating natural ‘girl bits’ has been one recurring item on the agenda within one particular group. We do discuss many more topics of course, including how to bring about world peace, save the environment, and depose Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman. Sometimes there are also very insightful conversations about the sociology of second-decade New Millennium coupling for casual mutual pleasure in bars. For instance, wise zany Snow-white has a rule that she never says she is an academic – instead she proclaims that she works in underwear retail, which is much less threatening to someone she intends to have just a one-night stand with. Another friend says upfront what she really does, and ‘fuck ’em’ if they can’t handle the fact that she is an academic. Anyway she doesn’t have any idea about underwear retail, so that particular conversation would go nowhere.
I don’t hang out in the same single bars as this group – that part of my ageing tapestry is looking a little thin these days, happily so – but I do engage in the vicarious enjoyment of hearing the multilayered forensic research reports from the others. In the midst of this, waxing and waning from the seriously lighthearted and funny to the deeply and darkly serious, always astutely taking the micky out of themselves, each one could be said to be a new kind of stand-up comedian, writing and performing her own audacious material; I imagine that I may actually become their collective manager. A new version of Big Girls’ Blouse may well blast onto the scene, though of course with a different format and name. Dream on…post-fulltime-work is certainly overflowing with new, unexplored, tantalising possibilities…who knows what will actually ‘see me out’ now!
Random playful texting
To give you a little morsel of the playfulness – a recently gleaned text-fest with one of these friends proceeded as follows:
Her: You ought to blog about all the vagina conversations we’ve been having. It’s hilarious! Beef curtains, a lot of vagina, muff, hermaphro clit..it’s all good!
Me: Indeed. Much to probe there so to speak. Also fascinated by terms for periods – bloodbath is what 13 year olds call them now. My gen said monthlies, the curse and even George of all things. Why a man’s name escapes me – like calling the vagina Bob.
Her: Snow-white was saying that Vagina would be a lovely girl’s name. I agree. Vagina Wolfe.
Me: The old Vagina Dentata also rears her delicious head!
Her: Good Roller Derby name.
Me: yes or female band.
That’s the only stream of textual consciousness I have intact, as we usually just riff and rave – unrecorded – when together, like most friends..and all the verbal thrust and parry escapes me in the warm glow afterwards. (Not sure why I used that masculine expression ‘thrust and parry” – will have to try to think of a feminist equivalent!)
Creative vaginal performing
And now for a graphic link about a daring performance artist if you wish to view it. This certainly celebrates the vagina, challenging taboos, although still people are very disturbed by such openness – rather like the impact of the Japanese woman artist who recently built a boat shaped like a vagina and ended up in jail.
Hope you enjoy this – you may well know the painting at the Musée d’Orsay. Here is a copy of some of the description on the link:
Luxembourgian performance artist Deborah de Robertis plopping down in front of Gustav Courbet’s painting “The Origin of the World” and exposing herself. This happened last month in Paris’ Musée d’Orsay and resulted in her being taken away by police and having two museum guards file complaints against her.
ArtFido also has a translation of an interview with de Robertis, in which she discusses her live recreation of a painting of a woman’s pubic region:
“If you ignore the context, you could construe this performance as an act of exhibitionism, but what I did was not an impulsive act,” she explained to Luxemburger Wort. “There is a gap in art history, the absent point of view of the object of the gaze. In his realist painting, the painter shows the open legs, but the vagina remains closed. He does not reveal the hole, that is to say, the eye. I am not showing my vagina, but I am revealing what we do not see in the painting, the eye of the vagina, the black hole, this concealed eye, this chasm, which, beyond the flesh, refers to infinity, to the origin of the origin.”