Vagina badge sparks contraversy

// 23 April 2005

Here is a story (via Boing Boing)which is interesting on a couple of levels.

A teenager in the US has been banned from wearing an ‘I (heart) my vagina’ badge, the Winona Daily News reports.

In most UK schools, wearing anything other than the regulation uniform is strictly forbidden. But in the US context, yes, it’s not on that you should be able to wear badges as a rule, but not an ‘I (heart) my vagina’ one.

But this doesn’t seem as simple as the evil, oppressive school system coming down on free expression. The principle’s response to why she banned the badge is complex and contradictory. She said: “I believe in freedom of speech, and I believe in women’s rights. But I also believe this could be construed as offensive or harassment.”

How is wearing a badge saying ‘I (heart) my vagina’ in any way shape or form ‘harassment’? It makes no sense. Who is she harassing, exactly? Only people who hate or are mortally offended by vaginas. The principle has asked the girl involved to set up a group on women’s issues instead. Apparently some staff members complained, saying that girls should be proud of their brains, over and above their vaginas. Which, I can kind of see the point of. But that’s not what it’s about. It seems to be a completely automatic response, viscerally rejecting the word vagina.

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