Nov 222011

Andrew and Sabrina sent me this photo, described as “vagina cupcakes,” (not by A&S) on twitter:

And my reaction was, “These are beautiful!”

They are! They’re anatomically correct and exhibit lovely diversity, including diversity of menstrual phase. I could only ask for a surgically constructed vulva and a bit more hair. I love them.

My reaction was also, “These are VULVA cupcakes, not vagina cupcakes.”

And then I clicked on the Facebook link to the image and found the comments associated with the picture… Here’s a sample. (I took out the “LOL!!” comments, as contributing nothing of interest to anyone.)


REALLY?!?! That’s all?!?! “Gross” or “hot” are pretty much all people have to say, with little exception?

And in looking closer, I noticed that a distressing number of the “gross” comments come from WOMEN and the “hot” comments come from men (this is why I kept the names in). Which breaks my heart. The general rule was not universally true, thank goodness, but to an alarming degree women viewed the vulvas as disgusting and men viewed them as potential sources of masculine pleasure.

Literally, this makes me want to cry.

On investigation, I’ve generally concluded that they must be made by the folks at Evil Cake Shop, which, I’ll be honest, is a bit disappointing. Can I confess that I had hoped it was some glorious feminist sex-positive, body positive cake shop that specializes in celebrating the beauty and diversity of women’s bodies?

But no. Evilness. Grossness. *sigh*

Still. They ARE beautiful.

emily nagoski

  42 Responses to “vulva cupcakes (not safe for most people’s work)”

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  1. My university sold cup cakes like these at a bake sale to support the Vagina Monologues. I bought one, but really, I couldn’t bring my self to eat it.

  2. Damn, I feel sad reading those too. Couldn’t even make it through the comments. :(

  3. I love the diversity of the vulva which represents women. Sad that women see their bodies as gross instead of wonderful. I blame it on the churches who teach little girls that sex is bad, dirty and wrong and that “good girls don’t do it. I can say this as I was a former baptist minister. They never ever teach sex positive messages from the bible and there are many.

    I believe in the feminist notion of having women actually examine their vulva with a hand mirror. Their mothers are also to blame teaching little girls not to masturbate. I counseled with a 25 year old women and had to teach her to masturbate because as a little girl her mother told her not to because she could “injure herself”.
    John Wilder

  4. I share your distress, but not your pessimism.

    I celebrate the fact that many men are responding positively, and I see no reason to lump the responses together as being focussed on male pleasure.

    • Hear, hear! Some of us just really like vaginas and are happy to see them finally come in baked-goods form. It’s kind of empowering from both a male and female perspective, IMO. I can see the negative female reaction as a combination of self-loathing, sexual conservatism, and homophobia.

    • I responded positively, but I was imagining the pleasure of the female bodies attached.

  5. I agree with your disappointment, Emily. I read something the other day that made also cranky, and wrote a comment on Facebook that was deleted I was so..erm..forceful in my displeasure. ::sigh::

    On the other hand, I can understand why they’re called vagina cakes and not vulva cakes. We did something similar for the Vagina monologues (lollipops!), and I guarantee if we called them vulva pops everyone would have gone what?!

  6. Wow! What fun! These are f***ing brilliant! I love things which poke fun at society’s ideas of rightness and niceness. Yes, I’m male and I love vulvas, but I don’t find these hot or anything like; interesting, yes; pretty, yes; and they’re hugely amusing for being so “off the wall”, “in yer face” and hopefully making a few people stop and think. Like you Emily I’m saddened by the comments. But while people can do things like I remain hopeful. Shows how much work there is to do, tho’. :-(

  7. They ARE beautiful! Now I want to start a sex-positive, body-positive bakery.

  8. _men viewed them as potential sources of masculine pleasure._

    What comments you would’ve liked to see from the men?

    “That vagina cupcake looks symmetrical and remarkably realistic.” “Boy, I bet if that disembodied cupcake vagina were attached to a cupcake woman, she’d be smart, warm, and a successful patent attorney in Bristol.”
    “Behold, the portal of cupcake life!”

    • That is an outstanding question.

    • “you would’ve” –> “would you’ve”


    • Actually, “Behold, the portal of cupcake life!” would have been a cool response. The one commenting on the skill it must have taken to create these little beauties was also optimal. Certainly better than the “this pic gives me a boner !”

      The one I find most eye-rolling is the guy saying that ew, female genitalia is gross, and men forget about how gross women’s bodies are because we look cute and feminine.

      • And the rhyme…
        “cute face/tiny waist”?
        Is this suddenly the Victorian era?

  9. I can’t possibly be the only one who looked all all the cup cakes trying to decide which one looked the most like me. Tell me I’m not! :-)

  10. “And I’m HUN-GRY LIKE THE WO-O-O-LF!”

  11. What C.Rasch said.

    Also, what exactly is “alarming” about women (or men) recoiling from a cupcake designed to look like a bleeding bodily orifice?

    You can be as sex-positive and feminist as the day is long and still not want to be reminded of menstrual blood and fragments of secreted uterine lining when eating a snack.

  12. They are realistic, and I suppose one could go so far as to say they are art of some type. But as snacks? I think not. That said, I wouldn’t want to eat a penis cupcake, either. Just not my cuppa.

  13. @Liz … I can’t tell you you’re not the only one … not quite. But i did wonder which was most like my wife. I know: sad. :-)

  14. YEAH!
    This is …. awesome. I don’t bake cupcakes, but I’d LOVE to bring them to work …. :D :D :D
    Wait … hey, could be possible! My mum bought a book about how to make cupcakes. :D Uhhhhh, I have to phone her tomorrow …

  15. Reminds me of the Judy Chicago art show about 30 yrs ago. It was quite a hit when feminism was going into high gear.

  16. Didn’t you know? Everything on a woman waist-down is a vagina. /sarcasm

    Really, just had a long conversation last night about the ignorance of anatomy and its response in sex (not just the between-the-legs anatomy) from both men and women.

  17. I think I’d like to dissent from the notion that women’s reactions to vulvas involves self loathing.

    By slight coincidence I’ve noticed several articles (Amanda Hess on porn star James Deen) posts (a commentary on Amanda’s article) and remarks in comments and on Tumblr about how straight men don’t like looking at other men’s penises. One self-photographer on Tumblr asked “why do tumblr blogs lose followers when they post a shot of an attractive naked man who is appealing to women?”


    In that context couldn’t the women’s comments about those cupcakes be something closer to non-orientation aversion or even homophobia than self loathing?

    Or take it a step further. Let’s say next week the same bakery comes out with penis cupcakes. What do you suppose men’s comments would be? And would it be as easy to suggest their overall negativity would be the result of self loathing? I don’t think so. And so I don’t think it’s right to say that women’s reactions are necessarily self loathing.

    I think we can still bemoan those comments, but again, more for their homophobia and other-loathing.


  18. Hey Figleaf
    What a very cogent analysis of women’s viewpoints. You are right, I would not have any desire to look at a whole bunch of men’s penises.
    John Wilder

  19. > I would not have any desire to look at a whole bunch of men’s penises.
    Shame on you, John. They may not be as pretty, but they’re just as variedly interesting in their own way as vulvas. And topologically rather easier to view. :-)

  20. “I think we can still bemoan those comments, but again, more for their homophobia and other-loathing. (Figleaf)”

    Why? Must we assign some gender-politics or body-shame angle to viewpoints which differ from ours?

    (Aside: I suspect we need some kind of Internet Godwin Rule for the term “homophobia,” which is fast becoming an overused and carelessly-slung term of opprobrium a la “racist” and “commie.”)

    Maybe some men and women simply don’t like cupcakes modeled after genitals? De gustibus non est disputandum and all that?

    And now, a story…
    Three weeks ago, a 95lb steel bar fell on the front of my right foot and smashed my big toe like a grape. This earned me a compound fracture and lacerations, ER visit, IV anti-bio, tetanus booster and local surgery to reassemble the distal phalanx.

    I watched over the doctor’s shoulder while he put my toe back together. It was very interesting to see the procedure – as well as the inside of my toe.

    Still, I would not care for Smashed Toe Cupcakes, no matter how anatomically accurate or cosmetically diverse the sample. I have no toe issues or foot shame. I am neither privileging my toe nor other-ing toes which do not resemble mine.

    I just don’t want Smashed Toe Cupcakes.
    I am the 99%.

  21. Actually I’m kind of relieved that most of the men thought they were ‘hot’. I know some straight men who find most vulvas disgusting.

  22. This post reminds me of the more-times-than-I-counted when women asked me if I thought their vulvas looked ugly or gross. No amount of pleasant comments from me or number of reminders that I thought they looked lovely and beautiful seemed to affect their views of their womanhood as ugly. Quite sad really.

  23. vagina cupcakes, just love them, funnies thing I seen in ages.

  24. I think they’re great!! Like others, I like the diversity, and I think it’s cool that they added (a representation of) menstrual blood to some of them.

    I probably wouldn’t eat them because I don’t like that much frosting. But I don’t think “would I want to eat these?” is the point — it’s more art than it is a serious attempt to create an appetizing snack.

  25. I love these… I seriously don’t understand why women see female anatomy as disgusting or ugly… the female body is beautiful, diverse and totally amazing! I am not gay, I love my man, I love his sexy body, but I just can’t see why vaginas/vulvas are seen as revolting!

  26. Because parents and pastors told little girls that sex is bad, dirty and wrong and that good girls don’t do it. As a result many women have real ambivalence over their sexuality for life. They did not start out that way but it is conditioned into them at their own detriment.

    Blessings on on who read this
    John Wilder

  27. Do they have cherries in them?

  28. I am disturbed at your assumption that the only reason a man finds these “Hot” is in your words “men viewed them as potential sources of masculine pleasure”. As a man I have always looked at genitalia as a source of mutual pleasure.

    Yes it is a shame that so many females looked at these cupcakes as “gross” when really just like the vaginas they have been sculpted to represent they are works of incredible beauty.

  29. Um a vulva is not a smashed toe. Sorry about your toe but that is like saying I wouldn’t want to see a child’s cheek, beautiful eyes or a smiling mouth as a cupcake/ A vulva or any other part of any persons body is what it is. You may like it or not but to compare an injured maimed body part to a naturally varied (and yes desirable) part is wrong! Get over it!

  30. I share your distress and your opinion: they are beautiful! A friend of mine sent me your link and I think I will reproduce them for a feminist project:

  31. Awesome, I’m hungry!

  32. I’m gonna add my voice to yours Emily. I think the cuntcakes (sounds better than vulva cupcakes! And helps reclaim the word if that’s your thing) are amazing. I too tried to work out which one looked most like mine and decided that none of them really came close. Perhaps I should make my own? I didn’t realise just how different they could look between women, until I’d seen a few real life ones (ie not porn). It shouldn’t have been a surprise mind you, given how much other, visible in publc, body parts vary. I love the diversity of them and like to dream that they were done as an awareness raising event, rather than a shock publicity stunt. Wouldn’t really want to eat one but I wouldn’t eat an anatomically correct cock either, not in the cake variety. Real cocks and cunts, on the other hand… ;)

    The bleeding ones don’t bother me either, because periods are just a fact of life for those women between the menarche and the menopause. Yes periods are gross, mainly because they are messy and usually uncomfortable/downright painful, but still, nothing to be ashamed of. I made a point when I was new to my period of being blunt when I was ill because of it. The male response sadly was usually ‘oh’, followed by a slow backing away/handing over of painkillers/chocolate. Sigh.

  33. I have to say that these cupcakes had a strange benefit to me. I have been worried for years after my daughter came to me and said that she thought there was something wrong with her vagina. She showed me and her labia minora was large and extended well past her labia majora. Though this DID freak me out and worry me, I remained calm and told her I’m sure it was fine and we’d ask a doctor. Well, she still hasn’t been willing to see a doctor and said she would after she got married if sex hurt (we don’t believe in having sex before marriage). This made me not so worried seeing the variety and that maybe it’s not TOO unusual.

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