‘Vagina anxiety’ cover pulled from student paper

The latest edition of the University of Sydney students’ newspaper has been pulled from sale following concerns that its cover featuring 18 students’ vaginas could break obscenity laws

August 24, 2013

The paper, Honi Soit, produced the cover to challenge the stigma that the student journalists deemed to be attached to vaginas.

The images were taken by a fellow student following a call for volunteers.

The newspaper’s editors agreed to cover parts of the images with black bars following a request from the paper’s publisher, Sydney’s Student Representative Council - the Australian equivalent of a students’ union - whose legal advisers feared the uncensored cover could contravene obscenity laws.

However, a printing error meant that the bars were translucent, meaning the full images could still be seen. The council then ordered all copies of the paper to be removed from the newsstands until the covers could be removed.

Writing in The Guardian, four of the paper’s female editors write: “We are tired of society giving us a myriad of things to feel about our own bodies.

“We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas. We are tired of vaginas being either artificially sexualised (porn) or stigmatised (censorship and airbrushing).

“We are tired of being pressured to be sexual, and then being shamed for being sexual.

“By distributing this cover about the university, we have given our audience no choice. Either accept vaginas as normal, non-threatening, and not disgusting, or explain why you can’t.”

They add: “That in 2013, vulvas can still be considered something that should be shunned and hidden, or offensive, is absurd.”

Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence said: “Personally my view is the cover is demeaning to women but I do realise I’m not the target audience for Honi Soit.”

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Reader in Politics and Policy

St Marys University, Twickenham

Engineer

Cern

Professor of Anthropology

Maynooth University

Preceptor in Statistics

Harvard University

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electrochemistry

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework