Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vulgar vulva

The other day my friend Cathy, who plays Irish music with her husband and has traveled extensively in Ireland, told me about sheela na gigs. These historical architectural carvings are found throughout Ireland and Great Britain, often over the doors and windows of churches and castles presumably to protect against evil spirits entering. They depict women displaying their exaggerated sexual organ, such as the example above from a church in Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England, dating to the 12th c. As Cathy says, "I guess the female genitals where the scariest thing they could come up with!" Although there are many theories as to their origin and meaning, to me sheela na gigs play into the deep-seated fear man supposedly have of the vagina dentata, a toothed orifice that will cut off their own organ if it is inserted. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but beware, gentlemen, because – as an American exchange student recently found out in Germany – we'll get you...

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