This is freaking rich.
Over at Jezebel, Anna North reports on the kerfluffle at Dartmouth over the Orchid Project, which involved passing out mirrors to female students so they could look at their vaginas:
According to IvyGate, Mayuka Kowaguchi gave out the mirrors on October 18 as part of her training for an on-campus sexual health advising group. The mirrors also included a note explaining how to employ them in va-jay-jay examination.
I hate the term “va-jay-jay” (“vadge” is far more sensible, in my opinion), but I’m not going to dwell on that.
This is where the fun REALLY begins:
Another criticism came from Grace D’Arcy, a columnist at The Dartmouth, who took issue with Kowaguchi’s statement that the mirrors could “shift [women's] perspective from the expectations and limitations of belief patterns, societal cultural or religious conditioning.” D’Arcy wrote, “If these mirrors were truly meant to encourage the consideration of issues surrounding body-awareness, then, I believe, those who consider themselves to be members of Dartmouth communities of faith — which do not support acting on this knowledge in a sexual fashion — would not have been offended.” However, she said Kowaguchi’s statement about the “limitations of belief patterns” was “a direct attack on all faiths.”
Let’s break this down a little:
1. Kowaguchi includes a note with the mirrors, suggesting that religious upbringing might possibly play a role, along with other factors, in instilling in women some preoccupations about what to do (or not) with their erogenous areas.
2. D’Arcy finds this suggestion offensive, calling it a “direct attack on all faiths.”
3. D’Arcy still reminds us that “communities of faith” don’t want young women using their vaginas for recreational purposes.
4. But my favorite part of all is where D’Arcy basically comes right out and says that Kowaguchi must have intended to offend people of faith because…people of faith find the project offensive.
This case isn’t really an example of how young women need to be encouraged to look at their vaginas—though I do think it’s something every woman should do now and then—but it is an example of how even the most non-confrontational, diffuse criticism of religion is just too much. Mention how religion has something to do with the body-ambivalence you’re trying to clear up, and it’s your fault if people are offended, even while revealing that your critique was spot-on.
So, by all means, Dartmouth ladies: do get acquainted with your vulvas. Just don’t make anyone uncomfortable.