Vaginas are the unknown — and some people at Polsky want to keep it that way

Editor’s Note: Author Beth Thomason is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness. She is also a member of Liberation in Progress.

It is no secret that our vaginas must be kept secret. This sort of don’t ask don’t tell policy has been engrained into the minds of women since the onset of puberty.

Sexual/reproductive health education is minimal and vague. We learn the basics, almost enough to keep us from embarrassing ourselves in social situations—but not quite. (I am reminded of a friend who said no one taught her what her clitoris was. At the age of 23 she thought, “Isn’t it where pee comes out?”)

The vagina is seen as a dirty, messy place. It is the unknown—and some people want to keep it that way.

This is the kind of attitude you would expect in an elementary school, maybe even a strict high school. But what about a public university? What about our very own University of Akron?

If you are not familiar with Liberation in Progress, you are probably familiar with their bake sales. If you have ever passed by a seemingly innocent table of baked goods and heard “CHOCOLATE VAGINAS, PENIS COOKIES!”—they are not calling you names; they’re just selling their delicious, anatomically correct treats.

LIP is the feminist/gender equality organization here on campus, and they have more than one reason for not making grandma’s boring peanut butter cookies to fund their organization.

As feminists, their goal is to de-mystify female anatomy that has been put under such scrutiny. With the help of a candy mold, they make these chocolate vaginas to say, “See? That’s not so bad, is it?” What women are told to be ashamed of and keep to themselves, they are putting out there for all to see — on a stick, bagged, sealed, and signed with a kiss.

These little vulvas are about as pornographic as a Ziggy cartoon, so anyone who is offended by their mere existence should question why they feel that way in the first place.

Learning doesn’t happen in comfort zones. Sometimes it’s necessary to challenge the beliefs and views that society has established within us in order to progress our thinking. If we all stuck with the idea that boys/girls have cooties, our species would be—not literally—screwed. The world would be flat, and lobotomies would be the sole cure for headaches.

What I’m getting at is, with all of these good (albeit somewhat obnoxious—but effective!) intentions that LIP has for doing these bake sales, why would someone feel the need to shut one down, ship it to the other side of campus, and forbid it ever to come back to a certain building ever again?

Yes, that’s right—LIP was kicked out of Polsky for selling chocolate vaginas. Not only are the said baked goods prohibited from the building—any type of sexual/reproductive health information is not allowed to be displayed for the following reasons:

  1. “There are high school students that come into the building.” Sorry, I was under the impression that teenage pregnancy rates were pretty high…but I guess we should keep teaching abstinence-only sex education, keep our fingers crossed, and hope for the best—right?
  2. Vaginas are obscene, disgusting, and offensive. That’s according to the WOMAN who kicked LIP’s bake sale off the premises. Yes. A woman said vaginas are offensive. Way to perpetuate society’s negatively stigmatized gender stereotypes.

I don’t know about you, but all this rage makes me hungry for a chocolate vagina and some social progress!

To find out more about LIP’s fight against censorship on campus, I encourage you all to attend one (or all) of their meetings/events. Check out their Facebook page for more information.


4 Responses

  1. I recently attended one of LIP’s meetings and the main discussion was about the recent polsky building vagina complaint. I was really excited when i was informed that the women who made the complaint and kicked LIP out of polsky had no authority to do so and were getting in trouble for it!! We brainstormed other ways in which we could get people’s attention (and get people used to the everyday anatomy women have to deal with) which included making vagina molds out of other non-edible objects. I think the best idea we came up with was using the molds to create chalk shaped as vagina’s and spread awareness by selling them and writing statements on the sidewalks around campus! Vagina’s are just part of the woman’s reproductive system and are essential to life. They are not vulgar, disgusting or obscene and people need to get used to it!!

  2. I attended the LIP meeting today and the main focus was the mess at the Polsky building. The woman who made the complaints is expected to give a formal apology to the members of LIP and they are NOT banned from having bake sales in the building. They were talking about purchasing T-shirts and making buttons to promote the “well being” of the vagina. This particular meeting wasnt very informational perhaps because it was the last one but the members came up with a lot of ideas for the upcoming year. Overall i think the organization is very effective and they have a lot of good ideas.

  3. I attended the LIP meeting today (Nov. 30). There were quite a few people there and there was also much to discuss. First, there was a discussion of the Polsky bake sale issue. The speaker informed us that they have received an apology from the president of Summit College and the woman who kicked them out was told to apologize as well. They are also permitted to to continue with any future bake sales. Second, the members discussed the plans for the upcoming year. There were sign up sheets passed around for events and decisions were made about the theme for each month of next semester. The meeting was very interesting and laid back and the members seem to be very interested in what they do.

  4. I attended the LIP meeting on Tuesday. Although this was the last meeting of the semester, the girls (and a few guys!) seemed to be very positive about planning events for next semester. We first discussed the issue at Polsky and the University’s response. Apparently, LIP is receiving an apology from the head of Summit College and hope to receive one from the woman who cause the incident as well. Lindsay, the president of LIP, also said that the group would stop petitioning and cancel the chalking because they got what they wanted. We then basically discussed what would happen next semester and different types of things that would be focused on each month. They discussed movies that could be tied into themes. Also, we discussed have a Take Back the Night on campus and they asked for volunteers to lead that committee. Overall, I really enjoyed the meeting although I wish I had gone to more issue-based ones in the past, and plan on continuing in my attendance.

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