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.
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:
- “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?
- 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.