The Vulva Mary is one of the embroidery works I’m most proud of. I conceptualized it, I drew up a pattern, and I made it real. It also marries two of the things I am passionate about- embroidery and feminism. One of my missions in college (and in life) when I was running The Alternative Clinic was to get people to recognize and use the word “vulva”. The vulva is the outer part of the female genitals, pretty much what you can see without a flashlight or speculum. but many people just refer to the whole kit and kaboodle as the vagina, which to me erases important parts of people bodies. You don’t call the whole face a nose or mouth if you mean the whole face, so why say vagina when you mean vulva?
The concept for the Vulva Mary came from a realization I had and then some googling I did that lead me to this essay by Anai Bendai. The essay is about how many variations of the image of the goddess were used to inspire images of the Virgin of Guadeloupe and other images of “The Virgin.” I am not a very religious person, so my concept is more about the power of the Vulva and an interest in how many organized religions oppress its women but worship the Vulva, perhaps without realization.
I’ve also stitched some related body parts.
I think I may stitch some more like this soon, perhaps a series of male genitalia or some non-binary genitalia.