It’s one of the most important human body parts, which each and every one of us owe our very existence to.
And yet the life-giving, fascinating realm of the vagina is rarely spoken about outside cheeky jokes or sexual innuendo. Still in 2019, a naughty, shameful thing to be simultaneously hidden away and fretted over.
Indeed, there are very rarely instances in life where women – and men – get to learn about the ins and outs of the humble vag, with its various bits and bobs still proving to be a bit of a mystery.
Enter the Vagina Museum, the very first ‘bricks and mortar’ museum dedicated to informing the public about the female gynaecological anatomy. Opening its doors from tomorrow, November 16, this London based museum will provide some much needed education on this most intimate part.
This groundbreaking nature of this opening is honestly pretty surprising when you consider there are already museums dedicated to niche – and arguably less important – subjects such as ramen and ventriloquism.
And there’s clearly a great need for the minds behind the Vagina Museum to share their wisdom, with Brits proving a little lost when it comes to navigating this personal area.
Worryingly, a March 2019 YouGov survey found over half of Brits can not explain the function or visibly identify the vagina (52%), labia (47%) or urethra (58%). These figures beg the question, how can you enjoy a satisfying sex life if you don’t even know what you’re dealing with?
It’s also rather sad to hear how little young women feel they can talk about their downstairs area, despite such discussions being vital to their personal health in the long term.
According to an Eve Appeal survey of 16 to 25 year old women, 65% were found to have a problem when using words such as ‘vagina’ or ‘vulva’. Such embarrassment has consequences beyond blushes.
Horrifyingly, a 2017 Jo’s Trust survey revealed more than a quarter (26.7%) of British women aged between 25 to 29 years old felt too self-conscious to attend their cervical screening; depriving themselves of a potentially life-saving examination.
The superheroes behind the Vagina Museum hope to create a forum where people can learn about the vagina in a safe and supportive environment. Knowing all too well how many young women obsess over whether or not they are ‘normal’, I’m all for it.
The Vagina Museum was established thanks to over 1,000 donors who offered their support through an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign.
A generous total of £50,000 was raised, demonstrating the passion so many people across the globe have for this cause.
Vagina Museum founder and director, Florence Schechter, said:
Since launching this project in 2017, it has been a whirlwind experience. It has been so exciting growing the project from my kitchen table to opening our first premises in Camden Market.
Doing the pop ups for the past few years has shown me that people are desperate to engage with the issues, as this is something they care about but can struggle to find safe and inclusive places to have these conversations.
It still blows me away the support and love we have received building this museum.
The first temporary exhibition, entitled Muff Busters: Vagina Myths And How To Fight Them, will open to the public this weekend and will tackle widely circulated myths surrounding the V.
This will include addressing a number of under-represented issues, including societal ideals surrounding cleanliness, appearance, periods and contraception.
Curator at the Vagina Museum, Sarah Creed, said:
It is so important for individuals with vaginas and vulvas to be able to openly discuss their anatomy and feel there is no stigma or shame associated with it.
Myths and legends that have circled the gynaecological anatomy have perpetuated a ‘norm’ for what the anatomy should look, feel and smell like, and indeed how the individual and others should interact with it.
[…] When added to a lack of basic anatomical understanding leaves people with vaginas and vulvas in a worrying scenario of not knowing how to interact with their own bodies. My hope is that this exhibition marks the start of that change of mindset and gets these conversations started.
Sex education should be something you can engage in at any age should you so wish, with the knowledge of how to keep your body healthy and happy being very powerful indeed. Sign me up.
The Vagina Museum is located at Unit 17 & 18 Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH and runs until the end of February. It’s free admission, open Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm and Sundays 11am-6pm.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.