Writing about that Naked Gallery viewing in Australia’s National Gallery earlier today I began, as I usually do with any internet research I do (professionally and for SLN), to click on links. There’s two reasons why I do that. One, it leads me to unexpected places and I learn something new. And two, it’s the internet: a view expressed as the truth isn’t always the truth, so it’s vital to find as many sources as possible to ensure that one view can be independently corroborated.
Clicking away from the Naked Gallery viewings, I therefore ended up at a story relating to another art exhibit, this time made by artist Jamie McCartney, one that is called The Great Wall of Vagina. You may have heard of it. I certainly had seen (sections of) it before without knowing the story behind it, but another Guardian piece, published on Monday, explains the background to it.
It seems that it was partly inspired by learning that labiaplasty, the surgical altering of the vulva, is one of the fastest growing cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK & USA. As McCarthy rightly says, “This is the industries who are invested in making women feel shit about themselves.”
Exactly. We touched on this in another post, about what is perfectly fine, different and unique about each of us being told is imperfect, for no other reason than ‘beauty’ treatments determined to indulge in body fascism. Indeed, why wouldn’t one regard this as another form of FGM -female genital mutilation- another topic we also touched on recently.
I think we are all sensitive to the imperfections we see in ourselves, and are sometimes unkindly pointed out far too readily by others, a form of bullying that has escalated in the social media era and is not confined to catty remarks by females regarding other females.
On the flip side, there are now issues that ‘go viral’ over the internet now where people are less concerned about how others perceive them, just their own body confidence. One Mum of three, who has posted a photo of herself and her ‘flabby belly button’ while wearing a bikini, recently found this to be the case. Personally, I think the lady in question, Rachel Hollis, looks absolutely stunning in her bikini. And ‘the internet’ seems to agree.
Panel 1 of Jamie McCarthy’s ‘Great Wall of Vagina’
McCartney’s ‘Great Wall of Vagina’ pretty much reveals what we should all know and understand. That women are unique and, more importantly, there is nothing wrong ‘down there’, you are perfect as you are.
It is a message that naturism says again and again. We aren’t going to judge you on your weight, on the size or elasticity of your breasts, on your penis size, skin colour or anything else (least of all your clothes! 🙂 ). If we judge you at all, we judge you on your brain, of how interesting and engaging you are in a social environment. It’s one of those things that sounds like a naturist mantra, because it’s true. In naturism, no one judges you. In naturism, your size, overall or just individual parts, are unimportant.
Jamie McCartney’s ‘Spice of Life’
I was then able to ascertain that Mr. McCartney has also undertaken another, similar project called ‘The Spice of Life’, discussed on his website, wherein the ‘vagina’ theme is extended to include breasts as well as limp and erect, cut and uncut penises to furthermore underline the point that we’re all unique and different and perfect.
Naturism has long known this, accepted it and moved away beyond it being a discussion point. We are who we are. Perhaps it is time (long overdue, in fact) for the textile world to play catch up in this respect.
As usual, though, I also try to see how this plays out in a Second Life context. Realistically, despite the individual nature of women’s intimate parts, there is one standard -and probably the standard aspired to by labiaplasty and the creation of the ‘designer vagina’.
For those who may be reading, and are unfamiliar with Second Life, the genitalia market is dominated by three brands: VAW, Midnight Lotus and Xcite. I’m afraid that I have to write from a position of relative ignorance regarding these add-ons, as I don’t participate in cybersex and therefore have no need to ‘enhance’ that experience or make it ‘more real’ by the female add-ons. Life for SL’s males is a little bit different. Due to the way that the SL avatar is constructed, males are ‘born’ without genitalia and an add-on must be added for reality’s sake (unless you’re planning to play the game, forever, without ever being naked: I don’t imagine there are many avatars for whom this is the case).
Ergo, there’s a captive audience for each male ‘born’ into SL. Yes, it’s possible to purchase a free, L$0, non-scripted (i.e, non-functioning) set of male genitalia from Midnight Lotus, but in order to produce erections, or have animations replicating urination or ejaculation, then a scripted version is required. You could pay anything between L$200 and L$1500 for these.
Female avatars, with no ‘external’ equipment, do not specifically require ‘add ons’. It would be perfectly feasible to participate in on-screen sexual activity without these bits, but many females, apparently, do purchase for enhanced ‘reality’. As I say, it’s not an arena I feel particularly well educated in to comment upon. It’s not really within our remit.
A selection of female genitalia purchasable for Second Life avatars
What I will say is that the female avatar in SL is ‘complete’ with every new skin you buy, and thus there is no real need to concern yourself with these add-ons should you choose not to, but as you can see from the range above, they essentially work on the basis of each female avatar looking the same, and out-of-the-box skins essentially keep the ‘designer vagina’ look.
One shop I did discover though was the ‘Real Pussies’ store, where very different looking sets of genitalia were purchasable.
While these may offer an alternative perspective regarding your individuality, as Jamie McCartney’s work seeks to do, I would have to say that this range, while offering something ‘different’, also portrays the genital area in states of arousal, not particularly useful or realistic for day-to-day avatar use (unless engaged in pixelated sexual activity, again something that extends beyond the remit of this blog).
A quick passing word on the world of male genitalia. Recently a new player has come onto the market: Aero’s, and they probably are setting the benchmark for new levels of realism regarding male genitalia.
Essentially, you pay your money and take your choice. Whatever style you adopt (or none in the case of some female avatars), be assured that, as Jamie McCartney’s ‘Great Wall of Vagina’ makes clear, you are perfectly normal down there. Absolutely nothing to worry about. You’re beautiful as you are.