The V-word

Via’s Broadsheet, we get this helpful reminder of basic facts about human anatomy. Be warned that some parents might not want to explain the picture to small children, or perhaps to their bosses. It’s safe for work, though.

Vagina is not a clown car poster

Thanks to Dulamae for the poster and to the Duggars for their 17 offspring, all of whose names begin with the letter “J.”


  1. #1 llewelly
    August 8, 2007

    Didn’t this go round the feminist blogs about 6 months ago? Very funny nonetheless.

  2. #2 Josh Rosenau
    August 8, 2007

    Just goes to show how far ahead of men women are.

  3. #3 JuliaL
    August 11, 2007

    I think the point could have been made without satire that makes use of real children in ways that could cause them hurt and shame for something they have no control over. Not really funny at all.

  4. #4 Josh Rosenau
    August 13, 2007

    JuliaL, I thought carefully about that.

    Given that the parents have actively sought TV and other media coverage, I decided that neither I nor the poster’s author were the ones subjecting them to public attention or shame.

  5. #5 JuliaL
    August 13, 2007

    Josh, I not only enjoy your blog, I learn from it. I have great respect for your knowledge, your reasoning, and your opinions. You have done much good in your public exposure of problems and in your offering of realistic solutions.

    In this case, I believe you are very wrong. The fact that parents cruelly expose their children to public view doesn’t make it OK for everyone else to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak (as we seem to be in a circus/parade mode), and think of new methods to humiliate those children. Using the names/images of any person’s children as a method of satirizing/criticizing that adult’s ideas or behavior is crossing what is in my view a very signficant moral line. If a person brings his own private life, career, opinions, etc. into the public arena, then he has made them fair game. Bringing his underage child into the public arena does not make the child fair game. (My, circus metaphors are everywhere.)

    And yes, the poster does hold these children up for shame in a way that their parents’ media-grabbing does not. The other young people in their neighborhood or church or social groups may or may not have teased them about being part of a large family. But if they see these children on the internet in this poster, they now have a new and painful way to make fun by calling these children clowns and their family just members of a circus. In fact, if you remove the implication that the children are clowns, much of the poster’s humor vanishes, as in “Vagina: Not a high-production factory.” I don’t want to see any public mocking references to my mother’s vagina, and perhaps you can see that these children might be hurt by that, too.

    Furthermore, part of the poster’s ugliness is its sexist presentation. There is no reference to limits on the penis, while the humor is dependent on our immediately entering a frame of reference where limitations on an individual woman’s vagina is the public’s business.

    I’m glad you thought about this issue, and I’m sorry we have to disagree so sharply here. It is simply not so that it is sometimes OK to hold little children up for public mockery as a way to get at their parents. I look at the youngest of those innocent faces smiling at the camera and think of my grandsons. What awful thing that I can do would make it OK to put their smiling little faces on the internet, complete with their names, in order to get at me by mocking them? And the answer is nothing, nothing at all could justify that.

  6. #6 Josh
    August 13, 2007

    I should note that I didn’t repeat the kids’ names, and if the parents had not already put their kids names and faces out in public, I would join your objection to other people “outing” the kids. I don’t know where the photo and names came from, but presumably from their extensive website, or perhaps the “Name that Duggar” game on the Discovery Channel website (linked prominently from the family website).

    I agree that there is a sexism implicit here, but I read the poster as a comment on the sexism inherent in the situation, not as being a comment drawn from sexism. The wife’s name doesn’t begin with ‘J,’ but the father’s does, as do all the children’s. This suggests a certain asymmetry in the decisionmaking process. I read the poster as encouraging the mother and other women to assert control over their bodies, and for society not to regard women as simply childbearing instruments.

    I didn’t read the poster as suggesting that the children are clowns, but that they all squeezed into a very small space. “High production factory” doesn’t carry that connotation.

    I see what you are saying about dragging the children into the public arena, but I don’t see this poster as a critical comment on the kids. I see it as a critical comment on the parents’ decisions to treat the woman as a means to an end (procreation) and to exploit their offspring for media attention. Neither places any stigma on the children, at least in my view. They made none of the choices involved. The parents did, and their choices bear discussion. It’s impossible to address those choices without some consideration of the children as well, alas.

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