The notorious V.A.G – in films, TV and pop culture

Anna Lou Walker’s latest book, ‘The Little Book of Vaginas: Everything You Need to Know’, cliterally offers you just that. This pocket-sized vagina guide delves deep into the wonders of the va-jay-jay and its functions throughout our menstruating lives, as well as busting some taboos and offering a fascinating insight into the fabulous V.A.G in pop culture. ‘The Little Book of Vaginas’ gives this wondrous body part, that more and more of us are growing to know and love, the attention it deserves.

We have teamed up with Anna to feature an extract from the book which examines the vagina through a cultural lens. From Predator 2’s “pussy face”, to the knee-knocking orgasms of Sex And The City, sit tight for a whistle-stop cultural tour of the vagina through the ages- on screen, stage and in the hits. You’ll even get your own pussy playlist!

The Little Book of Vaginas: Everything You Need to Know – Anna Lou Walker

Ah, culture and the vagina. Films where a few thrusts from the hero has women collapsing in orgasmic bliss. Nude statues with vaginas as smooth as an egg. Songs that describe good sex as painful sex (we’re looking at you, Robin Thicke). But it’s not all bad. A new generation of artists are going out of their way to repaint the vagina in film, books and music using all the colours of the rainbow – and we’re here for it.

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Silver screen snatch

Perhaps surprisingly, the genre to speak most explicitly about the vagina through cinematic history has been horror. While romantic films may lean on the tasteful pan away at their stars’ most intimate moments, horror movies have frequently placed the vagina centre stage. In these films, it becomes a symbol of frightening power.

In the 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie, a teen develops terrifying powers with the dawn of her period. Poltergeist (1982) has its victims sucked into another dimension through a fleshy vagina-esque hole in the wall. Then 1990 brought us Predator 2, where the alien antagonist is dubbed “pussy face” by one of their unfortunate victims, and in 2007’s Teeth, the heroine’s vagina is lined with its own set of pearly whites, ready to savage those who dare cross her.

Throughout the decades, the vagina on screen has held the power to scare and enthral in equal measure. But audiences’ thirst for stories that show the vagina’s power with the sense of reverence that it deserves remains unsated.

Vaginas that spark fear? Sure, that’s easy to come by. But films where women’s desire is the main theme? That’s a little trickier. It says something that perhaps the most famous female orgasm scene of all time doesn’t involve an orgasm at all, thanks to Meg Ryan’s exceptional “faking it” skills in When Harry Met Sally (1989).

In recent years a spate of films has thankfully begun to challenge this. French romance A Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) and English historical drama The Favourite (2018) both tenderly explore the intimacy of lesbian sex in a tasteful yet defiantly frank nature.

Representations of cunnilingus on screen are on the rise. In Blue Valentine (2010), Ryan Gosling’s character doesn’t hesitate to give some oral pleasure to his partner, though it didn’t delight the ratings board, earning the film an 18/NC-17 rating. Meanwhile, in Netflix’s wildly successful period drama series Bridgerton (2020), cunnilingus is a regular feature in the frolics of the Duke of Hastings and Daphne’s adventurous sex life, much to its audience’s delight. 

Quote from Samantha Jones, Sex and the City

Vaginas on the small screen

Perhaps no television show has done quite so much to put vaginas at the forefront of its agenda than Sex and the City. Running for six seasons from 1998 until 2004, the show unashamedly spoke about the vaginas and desires of its four stars, in particular Samantha Jones, the sexual savant who declared, “My vagina waits for no man.”

Many of the storylines from this iconic show are far from feminist when viewed in a modern context, but without doubt, SATC revolutionized the way that vagina-owners were depicted on our screens. Over the course of six seasons, viewers tuned into 96 sex scenes replete with STDs, disappointing lovers, health scares and, of course, knee-knocking orgasms.

The show was designed to appeal to the generation of women who “had it all”, juggling holding down successful careers, enjoying exciting sex, dressing like fashionistas, and starting families. Though very much of its time, Sex and the City’s influence can still be felt today, with shows such as Girls and Broad City undoubtedly owing something of their success to the blueprint laid down by Carrie and the girls.

TV representation is on the up. One of those shows indebted to Sex and the City, Broad City (2009), found its niche in the surprisingly wholesome comedic value of its stars’ relationships with their vaginas.

Meanwhile, the Netflix original cartoon Big Mouth (2017), which centres around a group of teenagers as they undergo the wild years of puberty, has entire episodes dedicated to periods, the vagina and masturbation. Indeed, one of the lead characters, Jesi, has a vagina that is a character in its own right, voiced by Kristen Wiig. Talking to her owner for the first time, Jesi’s vagina gives her a grand tour, asking “Have you ever been electrocuted, but in a good way?” as she introduces the clit.

Another Netflix original, Sex Education (2019) – which also follows a group of teenagers coping with the trials and joys of their changing bodies – covers topics including sexually transmitted diseases, masturbation, sex, and leaked nudes.

Making sweet music

Music videos have been a frontier for vagina representation in recent years. Take Ariana Grande’s “God is a Woman” (2018) for example, where the singer sits with the world quite literally between her thighs, swims in a pool shaped like a vulva and is even at one point backed by a chorus of singing beavers.

Meanwhile Janelle Monae’s “PYNK” (2018) sees the singer and her backing dancers bedecked in vulva-like trousers and fondling suggestive slices of fruit, surrounded by boxes of oysters, furry kitties and underwear emblazoned with phrases like “sex cells” and “pussy power”.

In the video for “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion (2020), water gushes down the corridors of an ornate manor, where wild cats roam the halls and rooms are lined with bouquets of flowers.

And in Miley Cyrus’ “Mother’s Daughter” (2020), the singer shows close-ups of pants holding pads and lips blowing bubble-gum bubbles while sporting a red leather catsuit with toothed vagina decal. The message is clear: this pussy grabs back.

A pussy playlist

There can be great empowerment to be found in lyrics about the vagina. Whether you’re dancing to Charli XCX, bopping to Cyndi Lauper, or rapping along with Doja Cat, pour a drink and turn the volume up for your very own pussy party.

Buy Anna’s book

The Little Book of Vaginas: Everything you Need to Know by Anna Lou Walker is published by Summersdale Publishers, £6.99. Get your copy here.

Show your vagina some love and have a healthy period with the Mooncup menstrual cup. Find out more and buy yours here.

If you have any questions about the Mooncup®, please feel free to contact us here.

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Header image © Martamenchini, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons