Vaginal Iconology – Barbara Rose 1974

Within the book Feminist art theory’s sub category Sexuality and the Sexual Body a piece of writing by Barbara Rose called Vaginal Iconology caught my eye.

In second wave feminist political art the vagina within their works was propaganda for women’s rights – women are just as good as men.

Within art history the penis of the man was visible where as the vagina was always covered, this would make the man a more superior being. The vagina then became a symbol of strength for women – this is why I chose to use the vagina as a central point in my work. The work is not about the female genitalia, it is about female strength – showing the vagina rids Freud’s theory of penis envy – we are not missing out by not having a penis.

I use the image of a vagina in my work to symbolise the strength that I have as a women, but also that I should not have to conform to what a stereotypical woman should be or the beauty standards expected from a woman.


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