Meet Florence Schechter, founder of Vagina Museum
June 18, 2020 - Rosie Wolfenden
Here at Tatty Devine we are huge fans of the Vagina Museum, it inspired us to make the Viva La Vulva Necklace as it really symbolises how far the feminist movement has come. We’ve kept in touch with its founder and creator Florence Schechter throughout lockdown to check in and see how they are doing. Having to close the museum has meant a lack of income and they’ve launched a fundraiser to ensure its future. We are longing to visit our favourite galleries and museums and hope they are all able to recover from this extraordinary time.
Credit: Vagina Museum
We had a chat with Florence to find out more...
How are you keeping sane during these weird times?
With great difficulty! Mostly crafts - I find using my hands quietens my whirring mind. I've borrowed my sister's sewing machine, restarting cross stitching and done an absurd amount of crochet. I also bought some video games as they dull the compulsion to check notifications every two minutes.
How long ago did you come up with the idea for a Vagina Museum and what were you up to before then?
I started the project in 2017 when I discovered there is a penis museum in Iceland but no vagina equivalent anywhere in the world. And I decided that had to change! At the time I was a science communicator, but have had rather a random CV including a care assistant in the NHS, working in medical labs, an administrator in a finance company and video producer.
Credit: Angus Young
Explain to anyone in the dark why the world needs a Vagina Museum.
When you first clicked on this, did the word vagina make you feel uncomfortable? Probably. Why is that? Isn't it just a part of the body? But it's sexual, I hear you cry! Yes, vaginas are sometimes used for sex (but if you're doing it right, the whole body is involved in sex). But they are also involved in periods, contraception, menopause, sitting on, and they get sick and sometimes they hurt. Half the population has a vulva and we must not be ashamed of our bodies. Shame, stigma and taboo can lead to terrible things happening like cancer being caught too late because someone was too embarrassed to go to the doctor. That's why we're making a museum. Museums are used by societies to showcase what they deem is important to learn about - we have museums to important industries, artists, historical figures, etc. So by having a museum dedicated to the gynaecological anatomy, we can make that statement as a community that vaginas are important and amazing, and should be celebrated, not stigmatised.
Credit: Angus Young
Are there any other stigmas you’d like to bust?
Nipples! Especially the ones attached to breasts. And talking about mental health, especially in the workplace.
Where do you hope to see the Vagina Museum in the future?
In its own permanent premises! With enough space for multiple galleries, an education and outreach programme, and a cafe with vulva cupcakes.
Credit: Nicole Rixon
How is the fundraiser going?
We've raised over £20,000, which is fantastic!! But we've still got about £4,000 to go to reach our target.
Which women out there should we be following who are helping form a more female shaped future?
There are so many amazing people out there doing amazing things! Some of my faves include Vanessa Nakate, a young climate activist; Sarafina Nance, Astrophysics PhD candidate and hopefully soon astronaut; and all the amazing people behind the East End Women's Museum which will be opening soon.
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