Nadya Tolokonnikova, the lead singer of Russian punk band/feminist-art-collective, Pussy Riot, commented last week on the fast approaching US presidential election. “Vagina is bigger than Trump”, she announced. Crucially, Tolokonnikova did not specify human vagina. A blue whale’s vagina is considerably bigger than Trump. Coming in at over two metres long, it could comfortably receive the entirety of Donald Trump as an insertion. As such, Tolokonnikova’s statement cannot be dismissed out of hand. If a blue whale’s vagina were dropped upon Trump from off the top of a small chateau, it would crush him, ending his presidential bid.
It could, however, be possible that Tolokonnikova was not referring to one huge vagina, but, rather, to the cumulative tonnage of all the vaginas in the world. By this definition, vagina is most definitely bigger than Trump. Even if we only consider goats, Trump comes a poor second – there are approximately 860 million goats in the world. By a conservative estimate, there must be 100,000 imperial tons of goat vaginas (including, of course, vulvas and such like) in existence. Trump, weighing a mere fifth of a ton, is dwarfed by this. By burying Trump under a gigantic rhetorical heap of disembodied female pudenda, Tolokonnikova is utilising her genius, as a feminist conceptual artist, to flatten the patriarchy.
But of course, when Tolokonnikova refers to ‘vagina’ what she really means is ‘women’. She is employing the female orifice as synecdoche for womanhood, a curiously reductive act. Something that, say, a misogynist might do. Although, in fairness to Tolokonnikova, if one is to reduce females to being a single part of their anatomy (for reasons of feminist shock-and-awe), then it makes obvious sense to use that part which is unique to women. ‘Elbow is bigger than Trump’, for example, could not be a rallying-cry for the sisterhood.
Vaginas prove central to modern feminism. Everyday Feminism condemns society’s ‘vaginahate’, and publishes articles with titles such as How to Start Loving Your Vagina. The editors of Vagenda, an online magazine, explain that “A vagenda is a woman with an agenda, or specifically a vagina with an agenda”. The Huffington Post looks at vaginas from a different angle, explaining that, “Believing in the power of vaginas is not something to be ashamed of”. And the Guardian have recently presented ‘Vagina Dispatches’, a series of short educational films which set out to explain to women what their vaginas are for.
The rise of the vagina is the inevitable outcome of a feminist outlook which discounts the possibility of there being biological differences at play in the minds of women and men. It is an outlook that prohibits the suggestion that there is a reason, other than sexism, as to why more men than women play sport. Or that something inborn causes greater numbers of women to be affected by the sight of a cutsie li’l baby. For when we believe that all internal ‘thought differences’ between the sexes are merely social constructs, it becomes necessary for identitarians to focus upon the external, or physical difference. Otherwise they are left with no difference at all.
Thus the vagina takes centre stage.
Which seems somewhat self-defeating, from a feminist point of view. Reducing women to the vaginal – or, to that bit which is different to men – is to define women entirely in relation to men. It is a form of feminism that is curiously male dependent. The irony of vagina is that this most female of places was designed, in large part, with men in mind. The vagina, as source of identity, is a cul de sac. It leads to a very limited set of destinations. It is a very small pigeon-hole.
It is noticeable that women who have actually made a real impact upon history tend to keep their vaginas at arm’s length. When Gola Meir made her game-changing address to the Council of Jewish Federations in 1948, she did not beat about the bush by invoking the power of her vulva, but rather presented herself straightforwardly as being a representative of “Palestine Jewry”. Likewise, Mrs Thatcher’s vagina cast no shadow upon her political achievements. Every last bit of her was the British Prime Minister, end of.
Vagina is bigger than Trump. And yet Hillary is so much smaller than the mythical super-vagina that she must live up to if she is to satisfy her feminist champions. For the real Hillary is almost entirely not vagina. She has this in common with all other women. She is a large and sprawling human. By waving about the ‘smash-the-glass-ceiling vagina-card’ quite so eagerly, she has boxed herself into a small and clammy corner. She becomes, in large part, a vagina.
And to become such a cranny provides Trump with a large electoral toehold. His tiny fingers must be twitching.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)