Jamie McCartney is a British artist who created an art installation piece of plaster casts called “The Great Wall of Vagina”. On his website are images of the entire installation along with the motto, “Changing female body image through art”.
His website explains the art piece:
The 9 metre long polyptych consists of four hundred plaster casts of vulvas, all of them unique, arranged into ten large panels. McCartney set out to make this project as broad and inclusive as possible. The age range of the women is from 18 to 76. Included are mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women as well as a woman pre and post natal and another one pre and post labiaplasty.
One of the many reasons I love this piece is because when I directed/ produced a production of The Vagina Monologues in 2006, one of the comments repeatedly mentioned by women who auditioned was how much they hate what their vagina looks like. Of course, they were actually referring to the vulva — as does this art piece (hint: the vagina is the inside part). Only one female at the auditions, a 24 year old girl who had not yet had kids, said she loved how her vulva looked like a beautiful flower. One woman said her “vagina” was ugly because she’d had 4 kids. Frankly, I don’t think most women know what our genitals are supposed to look like because our perception is skewed by porn and skin mags.
The month that I turned 40, I took pictures of my vulva and saw my vulva for the very first time ever (not counting when I was in labor and saw my daughter’s head crowning in the mirror up on the wall of the delivery room — I’m nearsighted so I couldn’t really see it). Turning 40, I wanted to love my body visually the way I adore my body sensually. But seeing my vulva pics, I burst into tears because she looked so different than what I envisioned. My fair-skinned legs and rosy labia were not what I’m accustomed to seeing because most of the women I’ve seen in erotic photos are tan. Then there was my clitoral hood and the shape of my inner labia…. I thought, “WHY would a man like this?! I look so different….”
I deleted the pics immediately. But I took some more pictures the next day, and this time I didn’t cry. I guess I was getting accustomed to seeing what I look like. I sent the pics to 3 guy friends I could trust to tell me the truth, and each one said my vulva was beautiful. I was really annoyed with myself that I felt I needed that kind of validation, especially from men, but men know vulvas, and they know what men like in a juicy yoni. And frankly, if I’d sent my pics to other women, would the women have been grossed out because they likewise have little clue what “vaginas” are supposed to look like?
As I continued to look at my vulva pictures (and even took some more), it was amazingly empowering to know and love my genitals and not compare mine to women in porn or magazines. Aside from the genital grooming that is prolific in erotic photography, many people don’t realize that porn performers often have cosmetic surgery to alter their genitals, including labioplasty to make the labia smaller or conform to some ridiculous notion of what labia are “supposed” to look like.
This brings me to my point and yet another aspect of healing women’s body image. There is NO one way a vulva is supposed to look. Every vulva is different. Comparing vulvas is like comparing snowflakes — each one is unique and beautiful in her own way.
I think McCartney’s work is very important for a few reasons. One, he cast all sorts of women when making his plaster art, and you see all sorts of labia shapes and sizes (and piercings!) represented. Also, because the work is in plaster as opposed to photography or paint, race is not an issue, and all the vulvas can be appreciated without an ingrained idea that “white chick” vulvas are more pleasing to the eye.
Check out McCartney’s website to see the many other panels in this art installation.
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I was wondering, what is it supposed to feel like when somebody touches your clit? I have heard it’s supposed to bring a good feeling but not in my case. When my boyfriend touches my clit, I get a really intense kinda uncomfortable feeling. It doesn’t feel bad or hurt but it definitely doesn’t feel good either. And it’s not something I look forward to. My bf always wants to touch it but even if I let him, I stop him after a couple secs cuz it feels intense and uncomfortable. Is this normal?
So much to address here!
Let me assure you that pain or discomfort is never “normal” for any kind of sex ever. No kind of sex (vaginal or anal) or touch or penetration should EVER be painful. EVER. (Okay, that wasn’t exactly your question, but I just want to reiterate that for the readers.) What is “normal” touch sensation for you will be different for someone else, so my “normal” will be different from yours. My “normal” now that I’m extremely in touch with my body will be very different from the “normal” that is “normal” for a female just starting to explore her body. So without knowing your age (18+), your sexual experience, any previous trauma, how you touch yourself, and how he specifically touches you, there’s no way I can guess what would be “normal” for you. But I can say that not-quite-pain, not-quite-pleasure feeling is common at first. So let’s look at this bit by bit.
The external clitoris is literally the tip of the iceberg! Most of the clitoris is inside the body, with several inches of innervated erectile tissue that expands and zings with sensation during arousal. Those inches of erectile tissue that men have hanging outside their body, a.k.a. the penis, is synonymous with the inches of erectile tissue women have; ours is just inside us.
The tip of the clit, that little nub we can see, is technically called the glans, just like the tip of the penis is called the glans. The tip of the clit is usually protected by the clitoral hood, which is synonymous with the penile foreskin. With around 8,000 nerve endings, the clitoral glans is VERY sensitive to touch. In fact, if you can see the tip, the clit is actually in the non-erect state; but that doesn’t mean she’s not enjoying herself — she probably is! Nearing climax, the clit will seem to “disappear” into the fleshy folds of the vulva; but she’s not retreating from touch, she’s actually getting a full erection on! This is usually when “vigorous” touch can be exquisite.
The clitoral body can be stimulated externally by (gently) pressing on the mons pubis area or internally via various fingering and stroking techniques inside the vagina. (Reminder: the female prostate is on the anterior wall of the vagina and is a different anatomical structure.) When a woman is nearing climax, there is often a “vice grip” clench at the opening of the vagina; these are the clitoris’ vestibular bulbs near the entrance. The clit is actually quite extensive and complex, comprised of 18 distinct parts. Your clit is MUCH MORE than just the nub on the outside!
But let’s remember, those are 8,000 plugged-in nerve endings. Touching them before they are ready to receive pleasure input can feel awkward or even painful. Since you sound like a young adult, I’m going to assume your boyfriend is the overly eager type who just wants to start pawing at your body (perhaps because that’s what he’s seen in porn, or he may be new to all this as well). This is NEVER okay. The man NEVER touches you anywhere unless YOU are ready to be touched. You’ll know when your clit is begging to be touched, and if he doesn’t touch you properly or is clumsy, you have the right to tell him how to touch you. It sounds like you are willing to stand up for yourself, and that is great! You have complete autonomy over your body.
Here’s were I have to interject yet another consequence of circumcision. If your man is circumcised, he may be accustomed to needing “rough” stimulation due to keratinization (callousing of skin) on his penis glans. If your man is not circumcised, explain to him that touching your clit with little or no prior arousal is like someone yanking his foreskin back and going straight for the underside of his penis glans. This can be very uncomfortable for the intact man! No one likes too much sensation too soon, which is what it sounds like you’re experiencing from your boyfriend.
Keep in mind, there is a reason the female needs to be fully aroused before going for the clit or the vagina. From a Tantra perspective, the woman and the man have positive and negative poles, like on a magnet. For the woman, the positive pole is the heart chakra, home to her heart and her breasts, with the negative pole being the genitals. For the man, the positive pole is his root/sex chakra, home to his penis and testicles, with the negative pole being his heart chakra. Biologically, the woman needs 15 to 30 minutes of dedicated arousal, or as I like to call it — puja (worship :-) ) to prepare the vagina for sex. The same way a singer has to warm up before performing, think of this time as necessary preparation — fun, delicious preparation for continued, evolving, expanding, rapturous ecstasy. Therefore, this time allows the woman’s body, especially the genitals, to become ready to receive touch and penetration and pleasure. It’s no coincidence that focus on the woman’s heart chakra would be key. Not only does it stimulate the woman emotionally, but a woman’s nipples are wired directly to her clit. Breast puja = a turned on, horny clit. Any man who doesn’t want to commit 15 minutes of breast/sensual touch puja isn’t worth your time.
This 15 minute warm-up doesn’t have to be solely focused on the breasts. Any sensual touch and massage will awaken the subtle body. This includes kissing, nibbling, caressing, talking, laughing. Once the woman is ready for more direct touch, the woman can allow the man to begin with touch and kisses on the insides of her thighs, the outer labia, the mons pubis — basically, loving all the way around the clit until you are ready for more. As you become more experienced and more familiar with your body’s responses, you may not need this much time. In fact, when you are able to stay in an aroused state — recognize that orgasm is an energy field you can slip into any time you want, you may not need much prep touching at all. Just thinking of your man will send your spine arching back into orgasm and your clit throbbing for touch! (In time, you’ll learn how to control this response when you’re in public, like shopping at the grocery story or the library. :-D )
Keep in mind, physical climax is different from energy orgasms. Men often confuse ejaculation (climax) with orgasm. These are two separate functions: ejaculation is a physical reflex of the sympathetic nervous system, while orgasm is a response via the parasympathetic nervous system. Since men need less time to get aroused and ready for penetration, they tend to focus on the end, rather than enjoying the journey. (Another horrible legacy of standard porn, too.) Just like for the woman, this arousal time is also a time of breathing and relaxing for the man. When your mind and/or body is stressed, pleasure can be elusive. Take your time to get warmed up and totally invested in your body’s journey to pleasure. There is plenty of time to get hot and heavy — once you’re BOTH aroused to the point of a crazed fuck-for-all.
Note: This initial phase of arousal is usually called “foreplay”, a term I despise since it places the importance of the sexual experience on “sex” which is usually defined by the penetration, i.e., when the penis enters the vagina. This devalues the woman and the woman’s biological needs of arousal in order to accept a penis (or toy) without pain. So I do not use the term foreplay. Puja is my personal preference. Puja, the idea of honoring the person and their body, also puts respect back into the sensual, sexual experience, in my opinion.
You should know, Anon, that it takes time to get to know your clit and the rest of your sexual anatomy. And you should spend a lot of time with her — just you and her. This way you get to know how she likes to be touched, without the pressure of a panting, horny Lothario rushing you and making you feel uncomfortable or not “normal”. Masturbation is a beautiful way to honor yourself (self-puja) and learn about yourself and your body. Through masturbation, she won’t feel so foreign to you, and you will begin to integrate her into your body and your overall sexual being-ness.
After you are more familiar with your body, show your boyfriend how you like to be touched. Masturbate in front of him, but he can’t help you — he needs to watch and learn. (He can help later on.) More often than not, a lighter, gentler touch is needed at first. In fact, once your body is awakened, you might even have labia-gasms and sheet-gasms. Hard touch is usually ONLY desired at the absolute height of passion and usually NEVER at the beginning of a love-making session. When your clit is really ready, you’ll know because you’ll start looking for things to hump. If you start eyeing the arm of the sofa with lust, that’s usually a good sign your clit needs some determined lovin’.
Recap of what we covered:
1 – Learn your clit’s likes and dislikes via masturbation; then when you’re ready, it’s show-and-tell time to teach your man.
2 – Female and male sexual anatomy are synonymous, for the most part. Some things are similar to both the woman and the man, so teaching the man about the woman’s anatomy will help him understand how your body responds.
3 – Prior arousal is required for pleasure. As you become more experienced, you may not need as much prep-time, but for now, insist on at least 15 minutes of sensual touch on other parts of your body to get your clit primed for touch.
4 – To learn various touch techniques for the clit, look through some of the videos and info here where the clit rules and men are glad to offer puja to a woman’s body (or willingly lie back and let the woman drive the orgasm train).
Feel free to leave a comment, especially if you want to offer more info so we can be more specific.
Thanks so much for trusting me with your clit. :-)
I’ve found a new way to enjoy my stealth orgasms — the orgasms that are brought on by little or no physical touch. I wasn’t looking for a new approach to my quieter, yet, oh so fulfilling full-body waves of bliss, and yet I have stumbled upon “sheet orgasms.”
While doing the barest of nipple stim and reveling in delicious nipplegasms, my legs open wide of their own volition. My hips move in their own dance, and my head is back in breathless euphoria. With it being colder now, I sleep with my duvet cover on, and I happen to be snuggled under the covers this morning. I move my hand to my labia, first outer, then inner labia, loving the change in her texture and posture.
My inner labia begin close to my vagina, but as arousal progresses, my inner labia extend upward, outward, as if standing at attention — the frilly edges more taut as they fill with blood in their own erections. Barely brushing my fingertips across my erect labia, the full-body waves begin, and I feel expansion in my heart chakra. I’m still amazed that slow, barely-there touch is so fulfilling, and infinitely more tender than hard frigging off.
I’m back on to nipplegasms, having gotten into a pattern of nipplegasms then barely-there gentle-touch clit O’s, and back again. On the weekends, I do this for hours, not getting out of bed until around 2 p.m. — except on the Saturdays I make a concerted effort to get up by noon to catch the vendors at the farmers’ market. But this is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, and everything is closed. I can stay in bed all day.
Back arched and head back, the nipplegasms are on auto-loop at this point. As my knees part wide, falling open 180-degrees on the bed, the weight of the duvet presses the sheet toward me. The sheet brushes my erect inner labia, and a jolt of energy surges up my body. I thought it was a fluke, a wonderful accident, but I try it again, lifting my hips slightly. Sure enough — ZAP! There it is again. I lift my hips the same way, and the full-body waves begin. My hips circle several times, make figure 8’s in both directions as I learned in belly dancing, circle some more, then lift and lower in a plain ol’ back and forth motion. I am breathless as the stealth orgasms fill me and energy zings up my legs and arms, with that familiar energy spiral in the ball of my left foot, sending energy outward. The sheet has just become my new boyfriend.
Trying a few things, I learned that once the sheet is in the correct position under the weight of the duvet but not actually resting on my vulva, manipulating the sheet is not required, and any other touch of my genitals is not recommended. The barely-there brushing of the sheet across my inner labia is all I need to induce these wonderful, deep feelings that can only be described as orgasmic waves that crash against the shore of my body, sending billions of tiny pinpoints of pleasure up through me and expanding outward.
Sheet orgasms… who knew…
Aroused and pricing 1500 thread-count Egyptian cotton,
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