Sydney University student newspaper Honi Soit has found itself being pulled after the journal’s editors decided to run a cover featuring 18 vaginas.
In choosing to publish the contentious images, the editors went on to argue they sought to make a statement about how vaginas have become ‘artificially sexualized or stigmatized.’
Told in a Facebook page: “We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas,”
“We are tired of vaginas either being artificially sexualised (see: porn) or stigmatised (see: censorship and airbrushing.”
The post continued: “Don’t you dare tell me my body offends you.”
Since being published,the student magazine has gone on to have all 4000 copies of the journal seized by the university’s Student Representative council.
To date the editors have sought legal advice as to how to proceed going forward.
Went on to reflect the journal’s editor in chief, Hannah Ryan after bar codes placed on the vaginas failed to be opaque enough for censoring authorities: “The cover was meant to be an empowering message to women that they don’t need to be ashamed of their bodies. This response, and the fact that it is possibly criminal, is therefore incredibly disappointing.”
The vaginas on the cover are not sexual. We are not always sexual. The vagina should and can be depicted in a non-sexual way – it’s just another body part. “Look at your hand, then look at your vagina,” said one participant in the project. “Can we really be so naïve to believe our vaginas the dirtiest, sexiest parts of our body?”
We refuse to manipulate our bodies to conform to your expectations of beauty. How often do you see an ungroomed vulva in an advertisement, a sex scene, or in a porno? Depictions of female genitalia in culture provide unrealistic images that most women are unable to live up to. “Beautiful vaginas are depicted as soft, hairless, and white. The reality is that my vagina is dark and hairy, and when it isn’t it is pinkish and prickly,” said one of the participants in the project. We believe that the fact that more than 1200 Australian women a year get labioplasty is a symptom of a serious problem. How can society both refuse to look at our body part, call it offensive, and then demand it look a certain way?
Went on to tell Michael Spence, vice chancellor of the university: “…personally my view is the cover is demeaning to women but I do realize I’m not the target audience for Honi Soit. However, the student body at the University of Sydney has a long and proud tradition of independence and it’s a tradition we will continue to uphold.”
The magazine now plan to release the issue, but with an entirely blank cover instead. Because if you can’t show the real thing why bother showing it at all, except of course in a way that is mandated by those of us who are to believe vaginas are only about sex and the subordination of women in preferred roles and images…