“OH MY GOODNESS IS THAT A YARMULKE VAGINA ON THAT PERSON’S HEAD?!”
(Yes, yes it is.)
If you are like me (Jewish, progressive, not a jerk to women), you might have seen the photo at the top of this post and thought “OMG WHAT. I…I don’t know what to think about this. I am in favor of vagina havers, but, but…”
Yes I know. “But.” But what do we make of an explicit depiction of a vagina on someone’s head in shul?
First of all, this is not a joke. The kippah you saw in that picture is a real kippah, and it was really sold for 300 sheckels last week on etsy, along with two similar kippot in a set that actually makes it look like the vagina kippah is giving birth to the wearer’s head. (The set goes from Ashkenazi-style to Sefardi-style-with-a-birth-canal-hole-in-the-middle.)
Knowing the explicit vagina kippot set is real leads us right back to “OMG WHAT” thoughts. Yay women! But, uh…
In working through all of our thoughts and feelings on this beautiful insanity, I think it’s useful to break up our reactions to the explicit vagina kippot set based upon its functions. So, without further ado, I offer you a comprehensive review of the explicit vagina kippot set:
Function: Vagina shaped item on etsy
There are so many vagina related things on etsy! It’s important to compare the explicit vagina kippot set to its fellow Internet craft items, and I believe it really comes out on top here.
What it is not:
made of frightening materials
What it is: creative, respectful towards women, skillfully crafted, interesting. Clearly art.
Function: Judaica, interesting/soulful kippah
The explicit kippot have lovely colors and are skillfully crafted–I could definitely see this at a feminist minyan, at a retreat of some sort, maybe a Jewish midwife/doula conference (do they have conferences?), etc.
However, the explicit vagina kippot set does not take into account the feelings of shul goers who might not be into thinking about vaginas/childbirth at the moment or who might be distracted by such imagery. Honestly, I’d probably be a bit distracted if I saw a vagina kippah in shul.
Like four inch stilettos, shiny bow ties, and beer coozy hats, the explicit vagina kippah is clearly not intended to be everyday wear.
Function: vagina/birthing related art piece
The explicit vagina kippot set definitely gets points for realism and attention to detail. The colors! The anatomical correctness!
However, the explicit vagina kippot set is not as compelling (for me) as perhaps a painting, poem, song, etc.
This category has amazing contenders (see Vagina Monologues, the book “Cunt,” many Georgia O’Keefe paintings, etc)–and I don’t believe in grade inflation, so it’s an A-.
Function: feminist statement in shul
Okay, here’s where I really have an issue with this. It’s not a complete fail, but I don’t think it’s anywhere close to an A. Think about good feminist statements in shul–scholarly drashot examining Hagar, Vashti, intersectionality, etc? Awesome. Important. Including matriarchs during the repetition of the amidah? Super important–necessary, even. I don’t feel comfortable praying in spaces that don’t include matriarchs, and I am humbled and grateful for the feminists of all genders who made a ruckus before I was even born so that we can honor our foremothers during services.
HOWEVER, I feel like the explicit vagina kippot set misses the mark as a feminist statement in shul. Imagine how this would actually play out: the wearer wants the kippah to spark interesting feminist discussion, wears the kippah to shul. A few people chat with the wearer of the kippah during oneg, but the vast majority of people who see the explicit vagina kippah during services don’t have the opportunity to chat with the wearer, and so they go home thinking “goodness, why did Shlomo wear a vagina on his head to shul today?”
Services don’t allow enough time to give such discussions the attention they warrant. And if you’re wearing a vagina on your head in shul and don’t want to start discussions about representations of womanhood, what exactly are you doing?