I’ll Show You Mine: Book Reveals Beautiful, Diverse Vaginas (Vulvas!)
I am ALL about normalizing and celebrating sexual diversity. Particularly that of our genitalia, its functions, and our desires.
Recall the March and April issue of AVN Magazine where my image in Njoy Toy‘s full page ad shows white cream running down my fingers. After I wrote a blog post about it and published the image to Facebook, I received several messages from people who told that they were amazed — and relieved — to learn that white cream during sex can be normal. A few of them had lovers tell them it was gross and because of this, actually stopped having sex because they were ashamed of it. Such a shame! It’s true that it’s rare to see cream in sexual images so I was glad to be able to represent this in such a public way, just as I am proud to show my body hair.
In our culture, porn is one of the few places to witness explicit sexuality, and because of this, we often base our sexual information from what we see in solely in pornography. With that in mind, it’s my belief that as an adult performer it’s important to me to show myself as authentically as possible, especially when the it seems that the expressions of vulvas are pretty limited. And socially… feared!
The clip of Stewie from “Family Guy” (gay as he may be) is a comedic but frightening example of the level of unease and fear around what should be a beautiful, normal, and celebrated part of our body.
Part of the reason I continue to perform in pornography is that it allows me to experience the beauty of sharing my sexuality with others, and using this privileged and empowered position to show that diverse sexual responses, desires, and expressions can be sexy — whether it’s made visible through myself in terms of white cream, female ejaculation, fisting, pubic hair, gender play, etc… or from that of what I share of my fellow sex-positive peers. The personal is political, professional, and powerful.
So when I saw Show Off Book’s new “I’ll Show You Mine”, I got very excited. Here’s a “non-porn” example of diversity in sexuality to join the ranks of previously published materials such as the fun Cunt Coloring Book by Tee Corinne and Joani Blank’s Femalia, though now out of print.
“I’ll Show You Mine” features 60 vulvas photographed from the front and head-on by Katie Huisman and edited by Wrenna Robertson. Each photo set is accompanied by participants’ short text entrée about their vulvas and participation in the project.
The texts range from poetic to journalistic and contextualize the importance of the project. Their addition to the book displays participants’ courage in modeling, self-consciousness about their appearance, pride in showing themselves in the photo, and experiences in their lives related to their sex including surviving sexual assault, becoming or helping others become orgasmic, and more.
Besides being a powerful product on its own, 128 page hard cover book sells for $30 (including shipping anywhere in North America) and 10% of all profits are donated to local and international women’s charities. Furthermore, free copies are available for educational and public use to qualifying charity organizations.
From the publishers:
We are committed to fostering empowerment through the educational use of our book. If you represent an organization or are an individual that would like to use the book for educational purposes or display the book in your work space for public viewing, we are happy to offer a copy of the book free of charge – you just pay the actual shipping cost! A few examples of individuals and organizations that qualify for this offer are: women’s, men’s, teen and family resource centres; all types of physician’s offices; STD and sexual health clinics; religious and spiritual centres; and wellness centres. We are also happy to offer a free copy to K-12 school counselors and college/university counseling and sexual resource centers. To receive a free copy, please use our Contact Us page with “Free Copy” in the Subject line. Please include your full organization name, a brief synopsis of your organization, your phone number(s) and your website.
My personal reaction of the book was that it does exactly what it needs to do. The outside cover is discreet and the forward and texts are empowering. There are many different participants, including a trans woman and a few trans masculine or non-gender specific models. While the book is dedicated “For Every Woman”, I think it’s important to remember that being a woman does not necessarily mean you have a vulva (and having a vulva does not necessarily mean you are a woman). Furthermore I think that anyone can benefit from the breadth of diverse images. And it should be said that projects like this can keep going in terms of representation showing more and more differences with each additional participant.
The book’s forward states that it is Wrenna’s way of combating the “pornified” image of vaginas. While I agree that much of porn presents a limited view of what a vulva can look like, I hesitate to place the blame on all of porn. In fact I would add that the porn that I participate in furthers the mission of “I’ll Show You Mine”, by not only showing our’s but showing our’s in action! (Check out CrashPadSeries.com for photographic images, sex videos and behind the scenes interviews of diverse queer people of many genders — it’s a great resource and is even shown in academic sexuality settings.)
Despite a somewhat understandable anti-mainstream porn stance, I think the book is extremely valuable and I hope it is picked up by not only charity organizations but also doctors offices. Having a heightened awareness of anatomy and sexual confidence is so important for our health and happiness. My personal favorite part of the book is pages 23-24, showing Phaedra, a body piercer whose profession put the model in contact with over 250 vulvas. In discussing the nature of the piercing with many clients, Phaedra also shared information about anatomy, and as shared in the book, one client’s piercing and education resulted in a new connection with the parts of her vulva that allowed, as Phaedra put it, her to “let go during intercourse” and achieve orgasm.
Though my own crotch has been filmed and photographed enough that I’m sure many of you have seen it by now, the book inspired me to add to the documentation. So in spirit of “I’ll Show You Mine”, here’s mine!
In keeping with the book, these are unedited images taken at approximately the same angles as the book’s images, with natural lighting taken this morning with my iPhone.
I love your…
I’ve always thought of vaginas as handprints–none are the same.
Hi there! I am Phaedra from the book I’ll Show You Mine. I am flattered that you like my story that accompanied the photos of my vulva and appreciate your kind words. Keep doing what you’re doing – you are as hot as hell!
Vaginas are all unique. Just don’t tell the police or they might start taking vagina prints of perps for identification purposes.
Say it with me… “Vulva vulva vulva”
(But don’t make it sound too much like “toga toga toga”…)
Marc – Thank you for your…
Insane Hussein – I agree! Vulvas are each unique as snowflakes
Phaedra – HOLY SHIT! Thank you for commenting, and thank you a million times over for participating in the book! What you added to the collection was awesome and inspirational.
Leon – The idea of clit-prints is making me giggle.
P.S. Thanks Lux for picking up this review and linking to it from Fleshbot.com (And always using my preferred pronouns, much appreciated!!!) http://www.fleshbot.com/!books/5802745
I love your story and your photos. Thanks for sharing this with everyone, I think this sort of thing make a positive difference on the way we feel about our bodies.
Thank you Michelle!
UPDATE: This post has been republished with permission on Jezebel.com.
I’ve found some of the conformity I see regarding labia in stereotypical gonzo porn kind of odd. Are women just chosen for a certain look? Or do they choose plastic surgery to alter their labia to a desired shape? Or maybe I’m just imagining things and there’s more diversity in that department than I’ve noticed.
Also, if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard some derogatory comment about “meat curtains” (which I suppose I proudly have anyway)…
Hi Jiz! I’m Cynthia from I’ll Show You Mine and as an avid subscriber to crashpadseries and admirer of your work, activism, and art I was wholly stunned and stoked to see my cunt in your review of I’ll Show You Mine! Thank you so much for critically, yet beautifully discussing a couple of problematic points in the book (ie. having a vulva does not necessarily mean you are a woman and being a woman doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a vulva). As a queer, genderqueer, feminist participant in the book, the “vulva does not equal woman” point and its representation in book-form has been a really interesting and exploratory discussion topic with fellow feminists, friends, and queers (some of whom are fellow participants in the book). Thank you again!!!