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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Vulva Is a Feminist

I recently had the privilege of connecting with a wonderful young woman working for a feminist blog called Sexul vs Braza in Romania! The blog is used as an online platform to disseminate information and have conversations around bodies, sex, sexuality, relationships and sexual/reproductive rights for women by making accessible and relevant videos. I was absolutely thrilled to see how artistic mediums can be used to open up dialogues, and to see how other people outside of my immediate surroundings can relate to the vulva pins. So of course I had to jump at the opportunity to ask how she and her organization engage women in conversations about themselves and she so kindly allowed me to share her answers with y'all. So peep the brief Q&A session I had with her!

Q: Why did you think it was important to start/be a part of a feminist sex ed website?
A: There is almost no sex ed in Romania, and thus my home country has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Europe. There is no gender equality and no tolerance for the LGBT community. I grew up with no sex ed myself and spend years putting pieces together with regard to how my body works and how bodies work together. I also had interest in a video project after doing some theater in Germany, where I worked for a year as a teaching assistant. It's actually at my school in Germany where I first learned about sex ed as a school subject. I was also inspired by people like Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian. A few months after getting back to Romania, in October last year, we started working on the project. I am a feminist and wanted a comprehensive modern approach to sex ed. Being an independent project means we are in the privileged position of not having to compromise. 

Q: What is the web series about?
A: Our videos and articles cover questions about our bodies, sexuality, relationships, LGBT, teenagers' (sexual) rights, STDs, contraception.  

Q: How do you engage self identified women in discussions around sex?
A: Well, I hope I get your question right. We address ourselves to teenage girls, so our target are not women. However, we want to encourage women to share their experiences with us, because that would help the girls. We are therefore interested in doing a bunch of google hangouts with mostly young adult women, to talk about different topics. First on the list is menstruation and the whole dynamic around menstruation that was experienced as a young person in the family or in the peer group.

Q: What does a vulva mean to you, and how does it fit within the context of the web series?
A: I guess it is quite central, as we do have a feminist approach. We have a video about the anatomy of the vulva coming up, which is why we asked you if we could use your picture of crocheted vulvas to illustrate how they can be diverse (you can't exactly use photos of real vulvas in Youtube videos). Thank you very much for saying yes! Next we're gonna release a video about the clitoris. It's about a sort of conference where the clitoris is being awarded the Coolest Organ Special Prize :). So, you see, vulvas are important for us! 

I have to be honest, I haven't kept up with my Romanian...ever, but check out the web series V de la Vulva with a brief Tuly Maimouna feature! The video is used to make a point in showing the diversity of female external organs. Understanding and talking about bodies cuts across cultural and linguistic borders and we have a lot to learn from one another in terms of experiences and knowledge. We should aim to realize the value in our stories and see the benefit in sharing them with one another!