Add “die cut sticker printers” to the long list of businesses over the years who have refused to do business with me because my business is in normalizing human sexuality, which in itself speaks to why my business needs to exist in the first place. Also on that list are banks, credit card processing companies, realtors, lawyers, graphic designers, and a ton of different advertisers (groupon, clipper magazine, the list goes on and on).
Here’s the back story.
For my Female Orgasm 101 college workshop and in-home party, I created an activity called “pin the clit on the vulva”. It’s always been extremely popular because it’s fun and silly (I make people close their eyes, spin around and everything). Pedagogically, it’s a wonderful way to introduce the different parts of the vulva, what they’re called, and where they are. It’s an excellent lesson plan to fulfill my stated learning objective of participants appreciating the nuance of the vulva, and understanding how erasure of the different parts from popular vernacular and the reduction of the entire external genitals to a “vagina” is harmful and oppressive. It’s a strong ice breaker activity, as people who moments before were sitting in the audience nervous, suddenly are shouting out “to the left! to the left!” as their friend or classmate is feeling their way around the wall with their eyes closed and a larger than life labia majora or clitoral hood in their hands.
But there has been a problem as far as the logistics. Years ago I used an 8 1/2 by 11 laminated paper as the back drop, and smaller laminated parts for the vulva which participants taped on, and it worked perfectly. But as the Female Orgasm 101 got more popular and elicited bigger audiences, it was hard to see all the way at the front of an auditorium, and so I made another laminated version, this time 12x16. It’s easier to see for sure, but because it’s bigger, it’s heavier, and it always falls off the wall no matter how much blue painters tape I use. So I started brainstorming ways to make this work.
How about felt? Make a felt board like the ones in kindergarten classrooms, and the little felt clitoris and urethra and such will stick to the other felt and it would be great. But the problem would be getting the felt board on the wall. It wouldn’t stay upright. I couldn’t figure out a way to hang it without damaging someone’s living room wall, or prop it up without having to carry a heavy and cumbersome easel with me every time I teach. Not practical.
So I thought about removable vinyl. It could stick right to someone’s wall, and be removed for the next class. But apparently die cut vinyl in the size I would need would be almost $1,000?!? No.
Which brought me to stickers. If I could custom make a sticker sheet with all the different parts, and simply tape a piece of paper to the wall, which will be lighter not laminated, and have participants place the stickers on the paper, very much like kid’s “pin the tail on the donkey” games. It’s not reusable, but I figured it’d be cheap enough to be able to use a new sticker sheet for each event, and then I could also give away the finished “artwork” they make to someone in the audience. Win. I found a company that makes custom die cut sticker sheets and emailed them for a price quote.
I got this email in response:
It’s a shame I have to, but whenever I do inquires like this I’m sure to emphasize the EDUCATIONAL use. And it’s ridiculous and the whole reason I do clitoris education in the first place; it’s bullshit pleasure isn’t a valid enough reason to exist. We can include vaginas in “polite” conversation, textbooks, sex ed lesson plans, news reports, whatever, because they have “valid” health functions with reproduction and the like. But a clitoris’ only function is pleasurable sensations, and that’s not acceptable, so boom, clitorises get erased and excluded. It’s the same thing with creating vulva and clitoris stickers. If I wanted to make vulva and clitoris stickers because i wanted to cover my room in vulvas because I think they’re awesome and I like to look at them, or because they arouse me, or whatever, that’s not acceptable. So I have to capitulate by saying they are for TEACHING and HEALTH awareness and other “valid” and “acceptable” reasons a clitoris’ existence could possibly be acknowledged.
But it didn’t work this time. Emphasizing my position as a sexuality education teacher needing help with printing a lesson plan did nothing to lessen the sex-phobic, and ultimately misogynist, knee-jerk reaction to silence and suppress anything related to clitorises.
Clitorises are not offensive anymore than earlobes, fingernails, shoulder blades, or any other body part is offensive. What is offensive is that this part of my body is considered offensive. In this email, this is what I hear:
"There is a part of your body that is repulsive. Not my body, your body. It’s repulsive because if you figure out how to use it, you might not want or need a penis, and then my body kind might not be able to rule over your body kind anymore. This part of your body is so repulsive that a cartoon rendering of it will offend my staff who will have to see it. Losing your money is worth being spared from having to participate, however remotely, in this indecency that you possess. But no offense."
Welp. It’s material for the book I’m currently writing which is all about clitorises, why they’re fucking awesome, and why no one wants to talk about them.