When I found out about science YouTuber Florence Schecter’s plans for the world’s first ever vagina museum I knew I had to interview her about it. Partly because I love projects like this that combine science, feminism and anthropology (and believe me, like vagina museums, they are few and far between) and partly because I like the idea of an Indiana Jones of vulvas who frequently utters: “This vagina belongs in a museum!” I caught up with Florence to find out why she thinks we need a vagina museum and what she’s going to do about it…
Kate Stone: What prompted you to start a campaign for the world’s first vagina museum?
Florence Schechter: I’m a science YouTuber and was doing research for a YouTube video about my Top 10 Animal Vaginas to go alongside the one I made about penises. But it was really difficult to find information – I was struggling to find 10 amazing animal vaginas. There just isn’t enough vagina research out there. My brain went ‘hey, there’s that penis museum in Iceland. Maybe there’s a vagina museum?’. There is not – well there’s a virtual one but we won’t rest until there is FULL EQUALITY. What is the only way to address this lack of vagina representation? Make your own vagina museum.
KS: What kind of things will be in the vagina museum and how are you going to find them?
FS: There will be three main galleries: science, culture and history. There will also be a temporary exhibition.
a) Parts (vulva, clitoris, uterus, microbiota, intersex, etc)
b) Processes (conception, orgasms, birth, menstruation, menopause)
d) Your vagina and you (which explores sexuality, gender identity, consent and contraception)
a) Vaginas in art, literature and music
b) Vaginas in society
d) Sexual violence
a) Research into vaginas
b) History of feminism
c) Feminism today
It’s not going to be particularly object-based in the science gallery but in the culture and history ones it would be good. I would love to partner with the Women’s Library (formerly the Fawcett Library) and UN Women to source objects for these galleries.
KS: Why do you think we’re so squeamish about the vagina?
FS: Women’s* sexuality has long been taboo but men’s has not. There’s a stigma around women* being comfortable with their bodies, any woman* who takes charge of her sexuality is labelled a slut or a whore. But when men do the same, there are no such insults. I could go on about a little evolutionary biology hypothesis about this… it all revolves around paternity certainty and internal fertilisation.
Also, some of our worst insults are vagina-based. Compare the impact of cunt vs. dick. To ‘be a pussy’ is an insult. How could anyone be comfortable with their vagina when we use them to slur people?
KS: What can people do who want to support the vagina museum campaign?
FS: They can…
– Donate to the development of the museum
– Come to our first event, a feminist comedy night
– Share or follow on social media (see social media links below)
KS: As well as the future founder of the first vagina museum you’re also a YouTuber, do you want to tell us a little about your channel?
FS: I make videos about science because I wanted to work in the field of science communication but found opportunities hard to come by. I don’t do much explaining but prefer the more fun side. For example I’ve done comedy sketches about scientists, song parodies, original songs, I even get drunk and talk about science.
KS: Tell us about your upcoming Vagina Museum Feminist Comedy Night!
FS: It’s going to be loads of fun! We’ve got a mix of comedians, scientists and science comedians. We’ve got Rosie Jones and Micky Overman from the 2016 Funny Women Awards! I went to that show and it was bloody brilliant. There will also be Anna Ploszajski who is a materials scientist who’ll be designing a sex toy from scratch. Speaking of… the night is being sponsored by Lovehoney, the UK’s largest online sex toy retailer.
KS: Why did you want to combine comedy with… vaginas and museums?
FS: I personally love comedy! So it’s a bit of a selfish reason. But also one of the best ways of reducing stigma around a subject or tackle something difficult is to approach it with comedy. Look at how the late night comedians in America are covering current politics more truthfully than the news programmes!
KS: And lastly who are your favourite funny women?
Sara Pascoe, hands down. I love her book, Animal, and recommend it to everyone I meet.
Shappi Khorsandi. As I’m also from an immigrant family I relate to a lot of her comedy.
Amy Poehler. Leslie Knope is one of my ultimate feminist role models.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Fleabag is one of my favourite TV shows – the perfect mix of comedy and drama.
You can find out more about the Vagina Museum here!
Donate to the Vagina Museum by clicking here!