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Before we jump into this list of sex education books I would like to tell you a bit about what this list is and what it is not. First of all, it is by no means comprehensive. This list was made with adults in mind; it is not a list of sex education books for kids nor is it a list of books on how to talk to your kids about sex. This list also does not include books on dating or relationships, save a few, and I intentionally have not included memoirs.

It is broken into primary categories while fully acknowledging that most of these books fit into multiple categories. To be honest, most of these books are cisgender-centric and heteronormative and the language is often ableist and generally non-inclusive and though I tried very hard to find authors of color, there are few and far between that have published sex ed books. A less likely pioneer of reclamation is the self-styled 'battle-axe' Christine Hamilton, though her celebratory Book Of British Battle-Axes nevertheless marked a re-evaluation of the term. Julie Bindel cites 'bird' and 'ho' as "blatant insults [ Patrick Strudwick praises Bint Magazine for "reclaiming the term "bint" from the huge slag heap of misogynist smears and turning it into something fabulous" The offensive term 'slut' has also been reclaimed as an epithet of empowerment: Kate Spicer suggests that 'slut' is "a term of abuse that has been redefined by fashion to mean something cool [ In the s, Katharine Whitehorn famously used her column in The Observer to self-identify as a 'slut', using the term in its original sense meaning a slovenly woman.

In , Bea Miller released the song S. In , the campaigning group SlutWalk Toronto organised a series of 'slutwalks' - demonstrations in which women marched while wearing sexually-provocative clothing and holding banners reappropriating the word 'slut'. The SlutWalk campaign provoked considerable feminist debate, with Gail Dines and Wendy J Murphy arguing that the protesters were fighting a lost cause: "The organisers claim that celebrating the word "slut", and promoting sluttishness in general, will help women achieve full autonomy over their sexuality.

But the focus on "reclaiming" the word slut fails to address the real issue. The word is so saturated with the ideology that female sexual energy deserves punishment that trying to change its meaning is a waste of precious feminist resources" Germaine Greer was more enthusiastic about the SlutWalk phenomenon, though she cautioned that "It's difficult, probably impossible, to reclaim a word that has always been an insult" and she should know. Here, the principal is the same as that pioneered by Madonna: sexual aggression, feared by men and characterised by them in disrespectful terms such as 'slut', can be redefined as an assertive and positive attribute.

It is not simply the word 'slut' that is being redefined, it is the lifestyle that the word represents - the meaning of the term 'slut' has stayed the same, though the cultural acceptance of its characteristics has increased. As Chinese is a tonal language, the same word can have multiple meanings depending on its pronunciation; this has been used subversively by women to reappropriate the pejorative term 'shengnu' 'leftover women' , which can also mean 'victorious women' when pronouced with a different tone. This "pun that turns the tables on the prejudicial description" gained popularity following the television series The Price Of Being A Victorious Woman Tatlow, [a].

It is important to note the distinction between changing a word's definition and changing its connotation. Women have sought not to change the definitions of for example 'cunt' or 'slut', but instead to alter the cultural connotations of the terms. Thus, the reclaimed word 'cunt' is still defined as 'vagina' and the reclaimed 'slut' still means 'sexual predator'.

What have been reclaimed are the social attitudes towards the concepts of vaginas and sexual predators: whereas these once attracted negative connotations, they have been transvalued into positive concepts. In a sense, this is true of a large number of terms which are regarded as positive by some yet as negative by others: for example, 'liberal' is used as an insult by conservatives, and 'conservative' is used as an insult by liberals.


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Salman Rushdie gives examples of older political terms which have also been reclaimed: "To turn insults into strengths, Whigs [and] Tories [both] chose to wear with pride the names they were given in scorn" Also, in Thailand, poor farmers protesting against the aristocratic political system wore t-shirts with the word 'prai' 'commoner' as a symbol of pride, in "a brilliant subversion of a word that these days has insulting connotations" Banyan, After Republicans derided Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as 'Obamacare', Obama himself began using this more concise though originally derogatory term, professing that he liked it.

Richard Herring notes the paradox that, while the vagina should be celebrated, 'cunt' is an inexplicably offensive term: "it describes quite a nice thing. If you give words the power then they are nasty. But you can turn things around and use them in a different way" Anthony Barnes, Thus, reclaiming abusive language requires a change not in meaning but in attitude. Whereas Madonna is perhaps the most significant embodiment of this transvaluation - female sexual empowerment being asserted as liberating and subversive - the theory behind it has been articulated most dramatically by Germaine Greer in her essay for Suck on the word 'whore'.

Germaine Greer - who instigated the cunt-power movement, of which more later - wrote I Am A Whore , in which she consciously identified herself with the word 'whore', attempting to show that it can be positive rather than negative: "Whore is a dirty word - so we'll call everybody whore and get people uptight; whereas really you've got to come out the other way around and make whore a sacred word like it used to be and it still can be" [b].

Greer's biographer fundamentally misjudged her suggestion, calling it "a direct betrayal of what feminism was supposed to be about [ In fact, far from identifying as a prostitute, Greer was implying that the word 'whore' could be removed from its pejorative associations. A term with similar status is the racially abusive 'nigger', which has been reclaimed or 'flipped' by African-Americans such as Richard Pryor's Supernigger , and is used in this context as a term of endearment. Jonathon Green suggests that this use "as a binding, unifying, positive word" dates from as early as the s Jennifer Higgie, Its reappropriation is not universally accepted, however: Spike Lee has criticised what he perceives as Samuel L Jackson's insensitivity towards the word's history.

Similar attempts to reclaim other racially abusive terms such as 'paki' notably the PAK1 clothing brand have been equally contentious: "even now this "flipping", as it is called, has not been totally successful" Sarfraz Manzoor, In his article A Bad Word Made Good , Andrew Clark notes the reappropriation of 'wog', formerly a term of racist abuse though later used self-referentially amongst Australia's Greek community: "the term has metamorphosed in the Antipodes.

Greek[s] happily refer to themselves as wogs [ Furthermore, Todd Anten cites the increasing transvaluation of 'chink', noting that "Virtually any word that is or has been a slur can be reappropriated by the target group" Lenny Bruce made the point that the social suppression of taboo words such as 'cunt' and 'nigger' serves to perpetuate and increase their power: "the word's suppression gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness" He argued that only through repetition can we remove the abusive powers of taboo words: "If [you said] niggerniggerniggernigger [ The film's director later explained that he was consciously attempting to "take everything that's negative in the language and turn it into a positive thing" Criterion, The editor of the Jewish magazine Heeb intended its title as a transvaluation of the term, a variant of 'hebe': "We're reappropriating it, but with a twist of pride" Peg Tyre, Annie Goldflam self-identified as both a 'kike' and a 'dyke', in Queerer Than Queer : "I am both a kike and a dyke, derogatory terms for Jews and lesbians, respectively, but which I here reclaim as proud markers of my identity" The homophobic term 'queer' has also been positively - yet contentiously - reappropriated, for example by Queer Nation: "In recent years 'queer' has come to be used differently [and this] once pejorative term [is] a positive self-description [ Ratna Kapur and Tayyab Mahmud cite 'fruit' amongst other terms "appropriated by the gay community as words denoting pride, self-awareness, and self-acceptance" The gay-oriented cosmetics brand FAG: Fabulous And Gay has helped to reclaim 'fag', and Todd Anten cites the company's mission statement: "to abolish the negative connotation of the word fag and reposition it [ Larry Kramer's book Faggots began the transvaluation of another homophobic term.

Another book title, Christopher Frayling's Spaghetti Westerns , was also intended as a positive reappropriation of a negative term: "The book's title was deliberately polemical, seeking to turn what had initially been a put-down into a badge of honour" Edward Buscombe, The similar film term 'chop-socky' has also been "repurposed" David Kamp and Lawrence Levi, The various epithets used to insult mentally handicapped people represent a further lexicon of reclaimed pejoratives.

Mark Radcliffe profiles "people with mental health problems tak[ing] the sting out of stigma by reclaiming pejoratives" , citing 'Crazy Folks' and 'Mad Pride' as groups whose names "reclaim some of the stigmatising language". This consciously humorous appropriation of 'crazy' and 'mad' must, however, avoid being misinterpreted as a trivialisation of those whom it seeks to empower.

The term 'punk' has become associated with a musical genre, though it also has an insulting definition, as it is used to describe men who are raped by fellow prisoners in jail. Robert Martin, who was repeatedly gang-raped in prison, has now spoken out against jail-rape while also celebrating the term 'punk': "He has taken the word "punk," which in its nonmusical context has always been a term of derision, and turned it into an emblem of honor. He has performed the same etymological magic trick that others have done with [ Finally, we should consider 'otaku', 'geek', and 'nerd', all of which are negative terms implying anti-social obsessive behaviour.

Increasingly, people are self-identifying as geeks, otakus, and nerds, using the terms proudly: a computing magazine called Otaku was launched in , David Bell cites 'geek' as "Originally a term of abuse for people overly-obsessed with computers - though now reappropriated as a badge of pride" , and 'GEEK' and 'nerd' t-shirts are on sale. The comedy film Revenge Of The Nerds celebrated the atypical victory of nerds against jocks in an American school.

It is clear that "The conversion of a derogatory term into a battle cry by radicals is not uncommon" Hugh Rawson, , though 'cunt' itself has yet to emerge as a fully reclaimed term. Presently, the initial stages of its reappropriation are more contentious and complex than those of the epithets dicussed above. Todd Anten categorises slurs into two types, to distinguish between words in different positions along the road to reclamation: 'close' words "which are at the end stages of reappropriation", and 'clear' words "which are at the beginning stages".

He also notes that it is not only words that can be reclaimed: "The power of reappropriation is not limited to textual slurs; visual slurs may also be reappropriated". He cites as an example the pink triangle used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals: "[it] evolved from a mark of Nazi hatred into a symbol of gay pride".

An especially intriguing aspect of reappropriation is that of trademark applications. Aware that potentially disparaging words are denied trademark status, Todd Anten argues that such restrictions should be lifted for "self-disparaging" terms: "The reappropriation of former slurs is an integral part of the fostering of individual and group identity [ He also cites Joe Garofoli's comment that "[S]elf-labeling defuses the impact of derisive terms by making them more commonplace".

In the latter case, 'jap', Anten notes that the term "may disparage multiple groups": it was intended as a reclaimed term in a Jewish context, though it may still offend Japanese people. Reappropriation is indeed a minefield. The marginalisation of the feminine is apparent not only in relation to language but also in cultural attitudes towards the sexual organs themselves. A large penis is equated with potency and sexual prowess: 'size matters' has become a cliche, though it is still perceived as an index of masculinity by men. Phrases such as 'well hung' maintain the male obsession with penis size, and John Holmes became one of the world's most famous porn stars thanks to his fourteen-inch erection.

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Size and the female reproductive organs, however, have a reversed relationship: "while men want their pivotal organ to be as big as possible, women want theirs to be small" Arusa Pisuthipan, A large vagina is seen as indicative of copious copulation, prompting accusations of prostitution or nymphomania. Or, as Germaine Greer puts it: "The best thing a cunt can be is small and unobtrusive: the anxiety about the bigness of the penis is only equalled by the anxiety about the smallness of the cunt.

No woman wants to find out that she has a twat like a horse-collar" [a]. Corrective surgery - namely a laser vaginal rejuvenation operation - is available in such circumstances, to make "the vaginal canal smaller and the opening of the vagina smaller" Nicola Black, , whereas male genital surgery serves to enlarge the organ rather than reduce it. Crude terms such as 'big cunt', 'bushel cunt', 'bucket cunt', 'bucket fanny', 'butcher's dustbin', 'spunk dustbin', 'bargain bucket', 'billposter's bucket', 'Big Daddy's sleeping bag', 'ragman's trumpet', 'ragman's coat', 'turkey's wattle', 'raggy blart', 'pound of liver', 'club sandwich', 'ripped sofa', 'badly-packed kebab', 'stamped bat', 'wizard's sleeve', 'clown's pocket', 'Yaris fanny', 'fanny like a easyjet seat pocket', 'a fanny like Sunderland's trophy cabinet', 'cow-cunt', 'double-cunted', 'sluice-cunted', and "canyon-cunted" Jim Goad, [b] , equate dilation with repulsion: "Here, the rule is to imply the owner of the vulva is unhygienic; that it has sustained so much sex it has lost its shape" Matthew de Abaitua, Thus, alongside the linguistic suppression of 'cunt', the vagina is also physically suppressed: "The importance of [vaginal] size is evident in contexts as diverse as slang, comedy, and surgical practices to tighten the vagina" Virginia Braun and Celia Kitzinger, [b].

The penis is an external organ whereas the vagina is an internal one, therefore the penis is naturally the more visible of the two; there is, however, a cultural emphasis placed upon this difference that acts to reinforce and extend it. The bulging male groin 'lunchbox' is identified as sexually attractive, whereas women are encouraged not to emphasise their groins but to camouflage them: "the vagina is a culturally obscure little organ. Phallic references and penis jokes litter daily discourse, whereas vulval imagery is seemingly limited to pornography" Joanna Briscoe, The venerated male 'lunchbox' can be directly contrasted with the condemned female equivalent, the 'cameltoe'.

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The female group Fannypack released a single called Cameltoe in which they criticised women for "grossin' people out with your cameltoe[s]" :. Similarly, the male codpiece's exaggeration of penile protrusion can be contrasted with female chastity belts that lock away the vagina. Also, excessive female pubic hair the 'bikini line' is shaved to render the area indistinguishable from any other part of the body: "If we do receive any information about the triangle between our legs, it is almost entirely negative; the [ Oliver Maitland contrasts artistic representations of the vagina with those of the penis: "For thousands of years, the vulva in art was sculpturally, graphically and pictorially erased [whereas] the male member [ The physical differences between the male and female sexual organs are central to Sigmund Freud's theory of penis envy.

This is the notion that a girl perceives her clitoris to be the result of her castration, and, faced with what Freud terms an "inferiority" , develops a desire for the visible, external symbols of virility possessed by men. Joan Smith answers this with the proposition that "it's time to start talking, pace Freud, about the terrible problems men have in overcoming their cunt envy" , a timely riposte to Freudian phallocentricity. Germaine Greer's key feminist text is titled The Female Eunuch , though accusations of penis envy serve merely to trivialise the feminist feeling of physical and linguistic marginalisation.

The 'female eunuch' is symbolic of the desexed representation of the female sexual experience, rather than representing a literal desire for a male organ. Patriarchal marginalisation is not, therefore, a literal neutering of women, though it does generate this metaphorical effect; while the penis is exaggerated, the vagina is rendered subordinate. This is graphically illustrated by Tom Cruise's character in Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia , whose mantra is: "Respect the cock and tame the cunt" Male attempts to marginalise the vagina lexically, physically, and pictorially can be seen as symbolic attempts to suppress female sexuality.

The myth of the vagina dentata discussed in more detail later is appropriate in this regard, as there are many mythological instances of toothed vaginas being blunted by male weapons: "Gruesomely, it is the removal of vaginal teeth symbolising the devouring aspect of female sexuality by brave male heroes that is a core component of many dentata stories. A Mimbres bowl drawn by Pat Carr from a Zuni Pueblo original depicts a man's club-like penis inside a vagina dentata to illustrate a myth involving two men who meet eight women with vagina dentatas: "their grandmother warned them specifically to stay away [ They have teeth in their vaginas.

They will cut you and you will die.

The blood ran. When the oak members were worn out, they put them aside and took the hickory ones. By daylight the teeth of these women were all worn out" Pat Carr and Willard Gingerich, Symbolically, this male domination over female sexuality - using a tool to cut vaginal teeth - clearly represents the power of the phallus and the weakness of the vagina, or, in other words, the Magnolia mantra quoted above.

According to Pueblo mythology, the Ahaiyute would "break girls' toothed vaginas with false wooden penises" Marta Weigle, A Jicarilla Apache Indian myth describes four 'vagina girls' who swallow men with their vaginas, until a medicine administered by the male 'Killer-of-Enemies' neutralises their power: "When Killer-of-Enemies had come to them, they had had strong teeth with which they had eaten their victims. But this medicine destroyed their teeth entirely" Catherine Blackledge, In a similar example, "There was a Rakshasa's [demon's] daughter who had teeth in her vagina.

When she saw a man, she would turn into a pretty girl, seduce him, [and] cut off his penis" - the only way to neuter her was to "make an iron tube, put it into her vagina and break her teeth". Pueblo Indian artwork depicts "efforts to remove a woman's vaginal teeth with a false penis made out of oak and hickory", and this ceremony is now symbolically re-enacted: "Re-enactments of vagina tooth smashing can be found in some culture's rituals.

In Venerating The Cunt-Demon-Conquering Metal Penis God , Colin B Liddell describes a similar legend, in which a metal penis is used to blunt the teeth of a vagina-demon: "According to the legend, a demon, escaping from a Buddhist priest, hid out in a young girl's vagina. Provoked by the sudden intrusion, the demon responded by biting off the young man's pecker". The woman's "cock-chomping beaver" was subdued by an iron dildo, an object which is still celebrated on the first Sunday of every April at the Kanamara Matsuri event in Kawasaki, Japan.

Our environment is becoming increasingly saturated with sexual images, justified by the maxim 'sex sells'. This situation, which Brian McNair terms "The sexualization of the public sphere" , predominantly involves images of women, appealing to heterosexual male desires at the expense of heterosexual female ones. Significantly, however, they represent a "tit-and-arse landscape" Barbara Ellen, , with the breasts and buttocks over-exposed and the genital area airbrushed away.

As Germaine Greer notes, these images are "poses which minimize the genital area" and "The vagina is obliterated from the imagery of femininity" [a] : the imagery may be sexualised yet it de-emphasises the vagina as an erogenous zone. Greer returned to the subject in The Whole Woman , her sequel to The Female Eunuch : "Male genitals are drawn on every wall, female genitals only on doctor's blotters [ Catherine Blackledge ascribes this prejudice to Christian misogyny: "the emphasis in the western world post the advent of Christianity has mainly been on hiding or veiling the vagina, rather than revealing or celebrating it" Albert Ellis explains that our culture's obsessive interest in breasts and buttocks and disinterest in the vagina is the result of subconscious displacement: "Males in our culture are so afraid of direct contact with female genitalia, and are even afraid of referring to these genitalia themselves; they largely displace their feelings to the accessory sex organs - the hips, legs, breasts, buttocks, etc.

Germaine Greer's explanation is more direct: she blames the linguistic and cultural marginalisation of the vagina on "centuries of womb-fear" [a]. She has actually incorporated a drawing of female ovaries into her signature, in a personal attempt to increase their visual representation.

Germaine Greer's term 'womb-fear' highlights the underlying reason for both the cultural suppression of the vagina and the linguistic suppression of 'cunt'. At the heart of the abusive impact of 'cunt', and the paranoid marginalisation of the vagina, is the implication that the female genitals are disgusting and fearsome: Mark Morton describes the vagina as "a part of the female body that has traditionally been considered shameful or menacing" Andrea Dworkin writes despairingly of the "repulsion for women [ Indeed, such is the level of disgust with the "monstrous female genitals" that, as Eric Partridge notes, the abusive term 'cunt face' is "even more insulting than the synonymous shit face" - the vagina is regarded as even more disgusting than excrement.

The clinical sterility of tampon advertising, for example, paradoxically demonstrates a profound disgust for the vagina: "The conception of women's genitals as dirty - indeed untouchable - is reinforced by tampon advertisements which advocate an 'applicator' on the basis that fingers do not need to touch the vagina" Virginia Braun and Sue Wilkinson, In their paper Socio-Cultural Representations Of The Vagina , Virginia Braun and Sue Wilkinson identify several "persistent negative representations of the vagina", dividing them into categories such as The Vagina As Disgusting "The vagina is often represented as part of the female body that is shameful, unclean, disgusting" and The Vagina As Dangerous "The Western construction of women's bodies as a source of horror, fear, and danger [ After many conversations with women, Betty Dodson reported that a great number of them viewed their own genitals in negative terms: "[women] feel that their genitals are ugly, funny looking, disgusting, smelly, and not at all desirable" This attitude is instilled during childhood, as David Delvin notes: "many women are brought up to believe that the vagina is "nasty", "dirty" or "not nice"" Jane Ussher describes the cyclical process whereby childhood confusion leads to cultural phobia: "girls mainly develop a sense of shame, disgust and humiliation about [their vaginas].

In this way, social stereotypes which define women's genitals as unpleasant, [mal]odorous and unattractive, are internalized by the female child" Judith Seifer suggests that the prejudice is actively instilled at a very early age: "girl babies are given a constant message of contamination, that what you have down there is dark, it's dirty" Nancy Friday, Even a scientific programme on the Discovery Channel demonstrates cultural womb-fear: their Human Mutants series included an episode about foetal cyclopia titled The Dangerous Womb , though cyclopia is a genetic condition unrelated to the womb itself.

The reductive usage of 'cunt' as a term of unparalleled abuse reflects both a fear of the vagina and a misogynist hatred of it. This hatred manifests itself in ingrained cultural representations of the vagina as an abject organ: "Given representations of the vagina as smelly, dirty, and potentially diseased, it is not surprising that women's genitals are a source of shame or embarrassment [and are] a part of their bodies many women can't bear to even look at" Virginia Braun and Sue Wilkinson, The t-shirt slogan 'salty yoni sweet dick' unfavourably contrasts the tastes of the vagina and penis.

The slang terms 'site box', 'fanny like a rabid dog', 'gorilla's armpit' and, especially, 'gorilla autopsy', present the vagina as an abject organ. The slang phrase 'smells like a pile of dead fannies' is used as a simile for something malodorous, and the barrack-room ballad The Ballad Of Lupe also known as Down In Cunt Valley is equally unpleasant in its imagery:. Also, compare this monologue by Jim Goad, from his morally ambiguous and provocative zine Answer Me!

Cunt, fucking cunt. Filthy fucking cunt, rotten diseased fucking cunt". The issue of Answer Me! It was felt that many of the articles in Goad's zine condoned and even encouraged the rape of women. More poetic than Answer Me! He also, perhaps less convincingly, finds further pejorative references to the vagina in the play, including "the female genitals as a place of [ Furthermore, he cites a play by George Wilkins, apparently inspired by Lear , in which another scholar has detected a genital allusion: Wilkins's line "in hope shee can open her teeth" , inspired by Shakespeare's "face between her Forkes" from Lear , has been interpreted by Frank Whigham as a vaginal reference "vagina dentata, the fiendish face between her forks", John Weir divides attitudes towards the vagina into two opposing viewpoints: "It's smelly, it's bottomless, it's devouring; or it's mystic, it's divine, it's nirvana" It is the former of Weir's two categories that is reflected in slang terms such as 'nasty', 'stink', 'stinkhole', 'stench trench', 'smelly cunt', 'smelly pussy', 'slime hole', 'smell-hole', 'stinky cunt', 'stink-pit', 'something crawled in and died', 'dirty cunt', 'rotten crotch', and 'scabby cunt'.

These words and phrases all equate the vagina with filth and dirt: "Inescapably, a woman's body incarnates shame, her genitals especially signifying dirt and death" Andrea Dworkin, One of the interviewees in Shere Hite's sex survey described how her male partner "thinks the vulva area smells ghastly", and Oliver Maitland even cites a female comment that vaginas are "Dirty, smelly things" Boyd Rice cites a quotation usually attributed to the Latin writer Tertullian which defines 'woman' as "a temple A scene in the film The Shawshank Redemption , in which a man emerges from a sewage pipe, has been interpreted as a metaphorical rebirth, with the sewage pipe symbolising a birth canal: "going through the sewage pipe [represents] a new birth" Andrew Abbott, In On Mrs Willis , John Wilmot wrote of the eponymous prostitute that "her cunt [is] a common shore" It is this viewpoint that seemingly inspired many traditional limericks, drawing their imagery from "[the] filth down there, between the legs, in the hole" Boyd Rice, :.

Comic strips such as It's Jemima And Her Smelly Vagina in Gutter , and Dirty Annie And Her Smelly Fanny in The Trout , position the vagina as an organ of abjection, an attitude exemplified by the slang phrase 'Billingsgate box', which compares the vagina's odour with that of a fishmarket. Similar terms include 'ling' 'vagina' , 'fish' 'vagina' , 'fish-market' 'vagina' , 'bit of fish' 'vagina' , 'fishpond' 'vagina' , 'fishtank' 'vagina' , 'tench' 'vagina' , 'trout' 'vagina' , 'tuna' 'vagina' , 'fish-cunt' 'woman' , 'fish-fanny' 'woman' , 'tuna taco' 'cunnilingus' , 'ling-grappling' 'sex' , 'have a bit of fish on a fork' 'sex' , 'fish fingers!

This long-standing belief, that "the vagina resembles a fish because like a fish it stinks", is the commonest example of what was described in as the "historical cultural connection between women's genitals and filth and disease" Celia Roberts, Susan Kippax, Mary Spongberg, and June Crawford. The connection is evoked in these song lyrics:. Ughhhhhhh" XXX Maniak, In a slight variation, Jim Goad smeared a dead squid over his magazine Chocolate Impulse : "we "stink-wrapped" each copy, allegedly with Faith Impulse's acrid vaginal juices.

We used a [ Criticising these attitudes, Alix Olson reminds us how advertising distorts reality, creating 'feminine intimate hygiene' products that are completely un-necessary:. We'd ban commercials of: Are you not so fresh? Is your vag repulsive? Do you stink of fish?

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Not only are vaginas "continually denigrated" Laura Kipnis, as dirty and diseased, they are also literally demonised, regarded as a 'chamber of horrors', as "the deadly genitals of woman" Barbara Creed, , and as hellish 'cunnus diaboli': "the womb is still represented in cultural discourses as an object of horror". The vagina dentata is the mouth of hell - a terrifying symbol of woman as the 'devil's gateway'".

The title of Catherine Breillat's film Anatomie De L'Enfer is a reference to the vagina, and Breillat's objective in making the film was to confront viewers with vaginal images: "if hell has an anatomy, it is surely a woman's genitalia. In the end, who is horrified by women's genitalia? Traditionally, men. Yet they slowly get used to this horrific vision" Lisa Ades, Breillat's observations are confirmed anecdotally by Stephanie Zacharek: "a lot of people that I've talked to just can't deal with it.

Particularly a friend of mine, a critic, wrote: "Ew! He just, like, didn't wanna look at that". Furthermore, the vagina is also known as the 'devil's kitchen', the clitoris as the 'devil's doorbell', and the cervix as the 'seal of Hades'. Pauline Kiernan writes that "Hell is a term frequently used [ Jelto Drenth cites Christian vagina-phobia - "The vagina is seen as the devil's stigma" and warns that "Anyone tempted to enter a vagina should be aware that great dangers lie in wait for him".

Barbara G Walker's feminist interpretation of classical mythology - The Woman's Encyclopedia Of Myths And Secrets - gives a detailed account of this: "women's genitals [were likened] to the "yawning" mouth of hell, though this was hardly original; the underworld gate had always been the yoni of Mother Hel [ Andre Schwarz-Bart cites the expression "Wash your devil" 'wash your cunt' and young Ifaluk women at puberty are traditionally told of "the "devil" beneath [the] skirt" Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove, An illustration by Eugene Le Poitevin Les Diableries Erotiques , depicts a group of seductive female devils, with skulls on their chests, inside a vagina.

Slang terms for 'vagina' such as 'mark-of-the-beast' perpetuate this association, as in the drama Witchcraze : "you have the devil's mark on your cunt!

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Barbara Creed, in a chapter titled Woman As Monstrous Womb , asserts that "From classical to Renaissance times the uterus was frequently drawn with horns to demonstrate its supposed association with the devil" Ruth Wajnryb links this association of femininity with monstrosity directly to 'cunt' itself: "CUNT remains the closest synonym for evil in the modern world. It is part of [ Medusa, the female demon, is also evoked in vagina mythology, leading Orlan to display images of her vagina "[alongside Sigmund] Freud's text on the head of Medusa [which] read: 'At the sight of the vulva the devil himself flees[']" Elaine Showalter also cites Freud's equation of Medusa with a deadly vagina: "According to Freud, the decapitated head of Medusa with its snaky locks is a "genitalized head," an upward displacement of the sexual organs, so that the mouth stands for the vagina dentata, and the snakes for pubic hair.

For men to unveil the Medusa is to confront the dread of looking at the female sexual organs" Freud's equation of Medusa with the vagina is significant as it presents the vagina as an organ capable of castrating the male penis: "in its horrifying aspect [Medusa] would resemble [ Thus, the "fearsome female genitals" Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove, are repeatedly associated with diseases and foul smells, regarded as abject, disgusting organs, stinking and pox-ridden - "that disgusting sick hole down there", as Jim Goad puts it [a].

Furthermore, they are also equated with demonic and Satanic figures such as Medusa and the devil, damned as a "daemonic womb" Camille Paglia, Such imagery can be found in contemporary popular culture, for instance The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring includes the fiery Eye of Sauron, which has been interpreted as a vaginal symbol representing "ultimate evil" Duncan Tucker, Another film with an evil entity interpreted as vaginal is Kiss Me Deadly ; its apocalyptic atom bomb, a reference to Pandora's Box, can be seen as "an atomic female orgasm" Graham Fuller, , a reading initially proposed by Carol Flinn: "women's sexuality her own 'hot box' is constructed as the film's final object of inquiry and ultimate source of terror" These misguided male associations perpetuate male anxiety about women's genitals, and thus also perpetuate the avoidance of them in male-dominated language and culture: "Men desire access to the vagina, but also fear it and are disgusted by it.

They see it as a gaping maw, at times toothed, frighteningly insatiable. It is then that male fears make them monstrous, hellish, and vile, disgust-evoking places" William Ian Miller, We have seen how the word 'cunt' and the vagina itself - the signifier and the signified - are both suppressed in language and culture. They are associated with uncleanness 'cunt' as a 'dirty word' and the vagina as 'smelly' , and this false projection of abject qualities is rooted in a fear of "the demonic bodies of women" Edward Shorter, Fundamentally, fear of the vagina leads to its symbolic and linguistic representations being suppressed and its physical characteristics being demonised.

Censorship of 'cunt', obliteration of vaginal imagery, and association of vaginas with disease all stem from a primal fear of the vagina itself. Central to the discussion of male cunt-hatred and womb-fear is the myth of the vagina dentata, "a motif occurring in certain primitive mythologies, as well as in modern surrealist painting and neurotic dream, which is known to folklore as 'the toothed vagina' - the vagina that castrates" Joseph Campbell, The vagina dentata evokes the male castration complex, which in this instance is the fear that, once it has entered the vagina, the penis will be bitten off and consumed - the fear of "witches stealing men's penises with their vaginal teeth", as Catherine Blackledge puts it The vagina dentata myth is the most potent symbol of male "dread of the female genital" HR Hays, There are several possible explanations for the persistence of the vagina dentata myth, all of which relate to male fears of symbolic post-coital death: "man's fear of sexual intercourse with woman is based on irrational fears about the deadly powers of the vagina" Barbara Creed, An illustration by Alfred Kubin is a clear example of this fear, depicting a man with an erection diving into an oversized vagina as if it were a swimming pool.

Kubin's title, Todessprung , suggests that the male figure is leaping to his death. Semen can be said to symbolise life, thus the release of semen into the vagina may represent the transference of life from the penis to the vagina. Likewise, when the penis has ejaculated and withdrawn from the vagina, its flaccid state is perhaps symbolic of death when contrasted with its pre-penetration tumescence.

The connection between sex and death is a well-established one: 'die' was an Elizabethan synonym for 'orgasm', 'go' was a Victorian colloquialism meaning 'orgasm' and 'die', and an orgasm is known as 'la petite mort' in France. Also relevant here is the previously discussed notion of the vagina as a harbinger of disease: perceived infections contracted from the vagina are perhaps symbolic of death. The central fear, however, is that of castration, that the vagina will bite off the penis during intercourse: "In the sexual act, the phallus is 'endangered' by the vagina.

Stephen King admitted that his greatest sexual fear was "making love to a woman and it just slammed shut and cut your penis off", and a character in 44 Inch Chest dreams that his wife's "cunt had dentures" Malcolm Venville, Exploiting the vaginal slang term 'beaver', Stewart Ferris notes that both beavers and vaginas can "bite your fingers off" , with the finger here being a clear substitution for the penis. Basic Instinct , Body Of Evidence , and GoldenEye all exploit these fears, depicting women played respectively by Sharon Stone, Madonna, and Famke Janssen who either murder their partners during sex or literally fuck them to death as do the mermaids in the film Empires Of The Deep.

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