by Joanie Blank (editor)

reviewed by alwaysarousedgirl on Wed 8 Aug 2007


Annie Sprinkle, sex educator and author, suggests that Femalia should be left out as a coffee table book.

I tend to agree. And if I had books on my coffee table (which I don’t, because my babies would eat them) or even a coffee table (which I don’t, because my babies would leap from it), I’d be quite tempted to leave my copy of Femalia squarely in the middle of it.

Joani Blank, sex educator and founder of Good Vibrations, put together this lovely book of images all taken by four of her photographer friends. Each photograph depicts a close-up view of unaroused female genitalia. In her brief introduction to the book, Blank states that the models possess a variety of backgrounds, ages and body types. Some shave, some don’t. A few sport jewelry. You’ll see dark skin and light, large labia and small, frilly lips and smooth, protruding clits and shy ones, and every other possible variation of female structure.

Each photo is fabulous in its own right.

The back of Femalia contains a line-drawing of female genitalia, presumably for those who need a map for identification purposes. There’s also a brief list of other resources on sexuality and anatomy.

I wish I’d laid eyes on this book when I was in my early teens, a time when I really had no idea of what was normal down there. I worried endlessly that something was wrong with my vulva, only because I had nothing to use as a means of comparison. I’m sure that somewhere I read about the amazing variations in shape, size and coloration; but until one sees actual pictures of normal vulvas, it’s hard to grasp the range of possibilities.

It’s even more important today for young women (and not such young women) and even young men (hm, perhaps older men too) to view books such as Femalia as they are coming of age. The images of vulvas that can so easily be found in porn are not necessarily representative of the average woman, nor are the images featured in advertisements for surgeons who would gladly “repair” vulvas which are “too large.”

Femalia is required viewing for anyone who wonders what constitutes a normal vulva. Once they stop eating books and start appreciating books, this is one I’d like my children to see. Giving it to them, however, would likely embarrass them to no end. Instead, I think I’ll hide my copy in plain sight on the bookshelf for my children to discover for themselves. They’ll learn more if they think they’re pulling something over on me.

Maybe you’ll consider doing the same?

Femalia by Joanie Blank (editor)
Available at Good Vibrations
72 pages