“The Vaginas Are Coming”: Students for Life vs. giant crotch photos
You can already tell by the title of this blog post that things are about to get ridiculous.
Let me just start off with the basics: Students for Life of America sponsored a display of graphic images by the Genocide Awareness Project on the University of Cincinnati campus. Supposedly in response to this, the UC Feminists and the UC (*deep breath*) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Alliance (*exhale*) will be hosting a panel led by (guess who!) Planned Parenthood, and will host an “art display” featuring 12 billboard-sized images of vaginas.
You can reread that if you need to.
While you do, I’ll be thinking about how inviting Planned Parenthood to lead your sex panel is like allowing KFC to lead your obesity panel. When did we get the idea that they’re here to educate us? As Kristan Mercer Hawkins of SFLA said, “Planned Parenthood isn’t an educational group; it’s an industry. It sells contraception, abortions, and STD treatment[.]”
When I heard about all this, the first thing I imagined – because my brain is weird – was the phone calls to the vagina models:
“Hey, Kat? It’s Lauren. What are you doing later?”
“I have cardio yoga-lates, why?”
“Are you free after? Students for Life just showed these giant aborted fetus posters -”
“And we want to counter-protest by showing pictures of vaginas. So, Kat, can we take pictures of your vagina and show a billboard-sized print of it on campus?”
“Well, Lauren, I’m a queer feminist. I have serious problems with the objectification of women, the compartmentalization of women’s bodies and minds, and the devolution of women into mere reproductive organs. So yes!”
Let me just state this right out of the gate: I am one of those probably rare pro-lifers who does not agree with the wholesale public display of graphic images. I am not going into why because that’s not what this post is about. This about the enormous difference between what UC Students for Life and Genocide Awareness Project showed, and what the UC Feminists and LGBTQA are doing.
(Please note: I’m going to get really wordy and bored typing all that over and over, so from now on they’re the Pro-Lifers and the Vagina People. Okay? Okay.)
The Vagina People said this:
Their billboard sized photographs equated mutilated fetuses with genocide victims in an effort to shame women, comparing reproductive choice to holocaust.
What the Pro-Lifers’ photographs showed was the product of the most common medical procedure in America. They did it because they’re concerned that people don’t know what the “reproductive choice” they’re supporting looks like. They’re providing information. Whether they’re doing it in the right way is immaterial to this debate.
According to the Vagina People, their big vagina photos will be much more appropriate and important:
Our demonstration serves to call attention to the vagina as a site of conflict in medical, legislative, domestic, and representational arenas. Its purpose is to incite conversation about the objectification, exploitation, and discrimination of women’s bodies in advertising, health care, reproductive rights, and queer identities.
First of all. We know what vaginas look like. This is not information. This is not educational. It is an adolescent action intended to shock the Christians, delight the frat boys, and make everybody gasp about how brave and revolutionary the Vagina People are.
It doesn’t matter how many Gender Studies and Queer Theory thesis paragraphs you throw into the mix. You’re still just showing big crotch pictures.
This is one of those situations that makes me feel like I need to be beamed up. Breakin’ it down:
Graphic images of aborted fetuses to educate people about the reality of abortion: shames women.
Graphic images of vaginas to somehow show that objectification and exploitation are bad: empowers women.
Do you know what I think? I think the Vagina People are immature children who don’t do a lot of critical thinking. You know why I think that? Because I was a Vagina Person. I didn’t actually show vagina pictures anywhere, but I would have thought it was pretty awesome when I was about 23. And I would have made up the same warmed-over crap to justify it.
But the real reason why I would have thought it was awesome is that it’s incendiary and pornographic. And this is pornography. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t be so excited about it.
You can argue that the graphic abortion images are also shocking, and that they qualify as pornographic. But there is an important difference of intent. The vagina pictures are there to titillate, to arouse and inflame. The Vagina People deny that, but that’s because they’re lying. They’re exhibitionists. They want attention and praise. And they will get it. Mark my words.
The Pro-Lifers got some negative attention and virtually no praise. They didn’t make anyone horny, but they made the vast majority of viewers upset and sad and angry. Which was their goal. So tell me again this is the same thing.
Of course Planned Parenthood is involved. They want to rid young women of their natural modesty. They want every 19-year-old girl in America to see her vagina as a plaything and/or an object suitable for public display. They want her purse stuffed with raspberry flavored condoms that don’t work very well.
Moreover, they want every male on campus looking at vagina pictures all day, so a few weeks later, at their clinic less than a mile away, they’ll have some new customers.
Do the Pro-Lifers have a right to show their graphic images on campus? Yes. Do the Vagina People have a right to show their vagina pictures? Apparently, yes. Honestly, if I happened to be on campus with my young son or daughter, I would not want them looking at either one.
But whatever your feelings on graphic images, please remember: these Pro-Lifers are acting in earnest. They’re showing their photos in the hope that someone might see them, learn the truth, and avoid the pain and death of abortion.
The Vagina People are showing their photos because they can. Because it’s fun. They’re not trying to save lives. They’re trying to have a laugh, and all the blowhard collegiate posturing is just that: posturing.
I know this because I was just like them. One day when this is years behind them, they’ll finally start admitting it to themselves and each other. They’ll sit around and laugh about that time they snowed the administration into letting them show giant pictures of vulvas on campus.
That’s the difference here. Don’t be fooled.