Students publish vagina pictures in censorship protest

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Students publish vagina pictures in censorship protest

Eighteen Sydney University students have published pictures of their vaginas on the cover of a magazine to protest against the "artificial sexualisation" of female genitalia.

The week's issue of university publication Honi Soit featured a graphic composite of the 18 vulvas but all 4000 issues were seized by the Student Representative Council (SRC) before they could be distributed because they were deemed to be too "offensive".

The cover was intended to be a protest against the inaccurate depiction of female genitalia in the media.

"We are tired of society giving us a myriad of things to feel about our own bodies," the women featured on the cover wrote.

"We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas. We are tired of vaginas being either artificially sexualised (see: porn) or stigmatised (see: censorship and airbrushing).

"We want to feel normal; we don't want to feel fearful when we have a first sexual encounter with a partner who may judge us because of our vaginas."

Australian censorship laws state that any vulva must be "healed to a single crease" so that no labia are seen.

As a result, the only vulvas most women have seen — apart from their own — are completely smooth, hairless and unlike anything a most real women have.

Because of these laws, the cover was printed with black bars over the women's labia (though a printing error meant these bars were too transparent, leading to the seizure of the issues).

"As the law currently stands, we can't show you what's under those bars," the women wrote. "The SRC is a small organisation without resources take on the man, and the reality is that people will face jail time if we show you our labia.

"This is ridiculous. Censorship laws in Australia state that the publishing of 'indecent articles' is illegal. Indecent is supposed to be something that will 'offend' a 'reasonable person'. That in 2013, the vulva can still be considered something that will offend a reasonable person is absurd.

"We hereby present to you the censored vaginas of 18 Sydney University Students. We present them, tarnished, enraged, and enlarged. And we ask you, the reasonable person, are you seriously offended by a body part half the population has?

"Here they are, flaps and all. Don't you dare tell me my body offends you."

Your say: Do you think we should be allowed to publish uncensored photographs of real women's vulvas without having to digitally alter them?

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