By Sabrina Willard
Earlier this month, a group of female Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) students attempting to speak openly and honestly about their sexuality were met with fierce backlash on social media.
On November 7, an upcoming performance of The Vagina Monologues prompted 17 women of the BFSU Gender Activism Clubto start an online discussion about what their vaginas would say if they could talk. While the students’ posted pictures, featuring them proudly standing next to their written answers, demonstrates a daring act of feminism, the reaction on social media demonstrates just how much is misunderstood about it. Not to mention the wrongs of slut-shaming and cyberbullying.
“We want to talk about our vagina, to rediscover the power within our bodies and spirit,” the students wrote.
In one such photo, a student is seen standing beside a whiteboard that reads: “My vagina says: You need to be invited to get in.” Many of the photos feature women, assumedly at the college campus, holding up a whiteboard with other answers like, “Don’t disturb unless you are sincere” and “Please don’t use love as an excuse…” Even, “I want freedom.”
Yet, the message of this project was seemingly lost on many.
Foreign Policy and BuzzFeedrecentlyreported on the explosive rhetoricspurred by this project – most of itspewing hate and judgment, stating that it “generated thousands of comments — most evincing an ugly strain of misogyny” from the mostly-male commentators.
One such comment read, “May I ask who is prepared to marry these feminists?”
And another: “As expected, they are all ugly.”
Even this bewildering response: “What does female empowerment have to do with their vaginas?!”
First of all, who says a woman isn’t “marriageable” if she’s a feminist?
What these ignorant cyberbullies failed to understand is that this project wasn’t about whether or not they were attractive or appealing to other people. It was about getting rid of the notion, once and for all, that a vagina is some sort of symbol of a woman’s worthiness. It was also a great discussion starter about the concept of virginity being a sacred. These women were calling bullshit, and rightly so.