Emily Dickinson’s Vagina
February 7, 2009 § 2 Comments
Last Thursday (thanks to the sheer beauty of Regents week), I finally went to the Brooklyn Museum’s Center for Feminist Art to see Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. This provocatively educational installation features the most powerful women throughout history through displaying what portrays women as powerless: their vaginas.
Judy Chicago, a widely published creator of bad-ass-ness, sets The Dinner Party on a triangle table (the universal symbol for equality). On each wing of the table, different eras of women are represented. One wing features goddesses, the next early historical women like Elizabeth I, and the last women pioneers and the famous suffragettes.
Each featured woman has her own table setting and her own vagina-plate (a 4th grader on a field trip asked his teacher “How does someone eat on this?” when staring dumbfounded at Ethel Smyth’s piano-vagina, but that will be another post entirely). Each vagina is unique in that it represents the possessor’s place in the feminist movement. Some were made of penetrable fire, others unfurling flowers, and some swords and weaponry that lead to mysterious corridors.
My friend and I treaded through the exhibit at a slow pace, writing and absorbing the mystery and stab to the patriarchy each vagina radiated.
Then, I saw Emily Dickinson’s vagina.
The delicate flower with its pastel pink petals repulsed me. It was the color of that really sugary medicine that makes you want to throw up. My friend described it perfectly as “cakey.” Each pink petal unfurled to the nothingness that is her hole of penetration. What didn’t make sense was that Emily Dickinson was a woman of substance, bad-ass in her own right. Didn’t she deserve some type of vagina-art recognition for that?
I think I didn’t like her delicate flower vagina because it did not look passionate. Dispassionate means submissive…powerless. I wanted the vaginas to be flaming with power and determination for equality.
Maybe Judy Chicago’s point was to portray all these powerful women using society’s most vulnerable body part.
But who am I to judge someone else’s vagina?