As announced in our newsletter and on Instagram, we will be posting manifestos of our colleagues who took the LIU2 course with Gabrielle Smith-Dluha this semester. These well-written manifestos provide insight into the values of our department’s student population and give voice to them in this time of political/social transformation. Writing a successful manifesto requires a high level of finesse and fluency in English, something the students have called forth in themselves when they were asked to write and design a manifesto on any topic they feel very passionate about.
The visual elements of this manifesto have been modified, as such content would have been explicit otherwise.
The Vulva Manifesto
by Luca Bader
About the manifesto
“The Vulva Manifesto”, as its title already reveals, focuses on the vulva. In the first part of the manifesto, the shame that people feel surrounding their vulva is thematised. Furthermore, the unattainable representation of the ideal vulva that is especially disseminated by pornography is addressed. The second part of the manifesto, starting with the line “Because every vulva is different”, highlights the vast diversity of vulvas. As the manifesto consists of two parts, also its purpose is of dual nature. The first intention of “The Vulva Manifesto” is to provoke its audience by addressing a taboo, namely the vulva. In the second half, the text empowers all people having a vulva to embrace, celebrate, and love this specific body part. Thus, it can also be concluded that the primary audience of the respective manifesto are people that possess a vulva and might relate to the conflicted feelings about it. Since the primary target group of the manifesto are all people having a vulva, it may be concluded that it would be very realistic for the manifesto to be part of a special edition of a magazine covering the taboos surrounding the vulva as well as related topics such as sexuality or feminism. Additionally, “The Vulva Manifesto” could potentially be part of an art exhibition or event that criticises the portrayal of vulvas in our society. As a secondary audience can be identified as well, namely the entire society that has inculcated patriarchal, oppressive, and unrealistic notions about the vulva, I would like to think that my manifesto could be made accessible and visible to a broader audience. When it would be hung as a poster at a bus station or on random walls, people may read “The Vulva Manifesto” when commuting to work or school. It might change the narrative surrounding the vulva, or it might change someone’s life.
Through the use of selected personal pronouns, provoking visual rhetoric, and anaphora, “The Vulva Manifesto” achieves its purpose of empowering all people having a vulva. To prevent any misapprehensions, it is necessary to elaborate on the choice of personal pronouns as it might be deemed rather controversial. The first-person plural pronoun “we” refers to all people having a vulva, including cis, trans, intersex women and non-binary people. The use of “we” strengthens the affective feeling of interconnectedness between and empowerment amongst all people having a vulva. Furthermore, as the first part of the manifesto addresses social misconceptions and cultural norms about the vulva, I decided to refer to the vulva by using the pronouns she/her. Consciously inflicting the female gender upon the vulva reveals the hegemonic notion of gender being biologically determined. Most frequently, babies at birth are either identified as female if they have a vulva or male if they have a penis. By default, the vulva is commonly labelled as she/her, even though the genital itself does not have any gender. Thus, the first line of the second part of my manifesto “Because every vulva is different” constitutes a pivotal turning point in my manifesto. From that line on, the vulva is no longer referred to as she/her; the vulva is called by its exact name. The visual rhetoric is in so far crucial as it further highlights the change of narrative occurring in the second part of the manifesto. The line mentioned above is positioned at the centre of the page and formatted in a large font size. Moreover, the background, a composition of plaster casts of vulvas, also visualises the great diversity of vulvas that is addressed in the second part of the manifesto. The use of the anaphora „every vulva” emphasises the quintessence of the manifesto: All vulvas are beautiful, outstanding, and magnificent. In conclusion, by employing distinct personal pronouns, consciously varying font size and selected background visuals, and the anaphora of “every vulva”, the purpose of empowering people to embrace their vulvas is achieved.