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It’s not a vagina! It’s a vulva!

I always find it amusing that so many adults don’t know their body parts’ proper names. I’ll give the producers of this video a break on this one; the opening of the vagina is sort of visible in the kids drawing; however, the connotation is that that whole area is called “the vagina”.

It’s all about education.

The responsibility rests solely on the parents and, by extension, the education system for the lack of a proper sexual vocabulary.  My life was no different than most of you. My mother had a hard time using the proper words for the penis when I was growing up too.   I always knew a penis was called a penis and not a “peter,” as she insisted on using when discussing my lower appendage.  My children’s mother preferred to use “bum” and “bum-bum” to discuss either the back or front of my daughter’s body.  I never understood which one was which, and I am not sure if my daughter understood either.

Why do I draw vulvas?

Well, why not? Why shouldn’t I?

Just like portraits, I am fascinated with the differences between individuals.  As with faces, there are no two vulvas alike.   As a man and as an artist, a vulva and a penis are parts of our bodies.  I always find it weird when artists skip over the genitals when they draw or paint.  It may be a generational thing, even a conservative or religious belief that limits the portrayal of genitalia.  Younger artists may have fewer issues with depicting the human body; however, I’m not sure if their anatomical vocabulary has improved.

I’m still hearing a lot of vaginas and vajay-jays out there, just saying…

Vulva drawing
L'origine du monde by Gustav Courbet

Historical context

Before anyone starts labelling my drawings as pornographic or obscene, I would like to point to some historical precedences.  L’origine du monde by Gustav Courbet leaps to mind.  Believed to have been commissioned by an Ottoman diplomat named Halil Şerif Pasha also known as Khalil Bey. There is still a lot of speculation as to who’s vulva this actually is.  Was it painted from life or was it a figment of Gustav Courbet’s imagination?

So who’s vulva is it anyways?

It has been long a long-held belief that the vulva in “L’origine du monde” belonged to either Joanna Hiffernan, Constance Quéniaux or Marie-Anne Detourbay. If indeed the recent discovery of a part of a face and head that could be the missing upper half of the painting, all roads may lead to Joanna Hiffernan.

The Origin of the World upper Section

The Suspected Models

Debates and Questions

The debate continues as to who posed for this painting. It also raises questions about voyeurism, eroticism in art and quite frankly the place for such works of art in art history. As many of you know I have never shied away from any kind of imagery relating to the body. I have no issues with any kind of art,  even art that pushes the boundaries of political correctness.  The Origin of the World now hangs in all of its glory in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Displaying a vulva or penis drawing

I am aware that people may be afraid that hanging a drawing of a vulva or penis in their homes may cause some trepidation in their visitors.  You may be afraid of what people will think.  Sex and the discussion of sex and intimacy have always been the elephant in the room.  Will having a drawing of a vulva or a penis hanging on your wall increase the size of the proverbial elephant in the room?  Will it be awkward?  I have had collectors hang their vulva collection in their living rooms, to help spark a conversation or two!  I guess it depends where you intend to hang it, and how bold you are!

Are you bold enough to commission a self-portrait?

Now that’s bold!

Shaved Labia

video source credit: The Hat trick YouTube Channel

Vulva drawing that I have available