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Some men seem to have real trouble with cis women’s anatomy. Men Writing Women, a Twitter account that catalogs the bizarre things men think women and their bodies do, has found another entry for that hall of fame. This one is by author Stuart Woods, who wrote in his 2018 book Desperate Measures the following sentence:
“The girl had a tiny purse tucked into her vagina, just big enough to hold her driver’s license, a credit card, and a few bucks.”
Let’s unpack that for a moment. A grown man genuinely thought a woman might keep an entire purse, containing unwieldy items like credit cards and driver’s licenses, inside her vagina. Instead of checking with an actual vagina owner (or if he did, being royally pranked by one) he put it right into a book which he then submitted for publication. And no one on the entire editorial team stopped him. No one said, “mate, anatomy just doesn’t work that way.” Or if they did, and I can imagine that he just dismissed that information and went ahead with it. Astonishing.
Me yesterday: Writers can write whatever they want!— Jeaniene Frost (@Jeaniene_Frost) July 30, 2019
Me after reading this: There should be laws. And fines.
Men writing bizarre nonsense about women is hardly news, especially on book Twitter, but this one is so out there it surprised even the most jaded of veterans. People on both Men Writing Women’s Twitter page and subreddit came together to try and figure out just how.
I was also wondering the context. Is he stupid enough to think that’s what some women do, or was there a weird storyline where the killer shoves little purses up his victims’ vaginas?— Liane (@LadyLoveDisdain) July 31, 2019
My favorite part of this is the line following. The speaker is obviously aware of the vagina purse, so it comes as no surprise at all. It's a baseline feature of most models of women.— Victoria Ying (@victoriaying) July 31, 2019
Wtf? What’s worse this nonsense was published.— Leo 🦁🍁🍂 (@Leo97894180) July 30, 2019
Can you imagine the scenarios.
Woman pulled over by cop: “Excuse me officer while I get my drivers license & registration out of my purse’
Officer: “miss why are you pulling your pants & underwear down?”🤦♀️
Especially as it’s not the first time he’s done it!
This follows a scene where a crimeboss of some sort has ordered the woman to strip so they can have sex. It’s not vaginal sex, but she doesn’t know that ahead of time and doesn’t think “gee, I’ve got $87 up there, what if he notices?”— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) July 30, 2019
Stuart's elevator pitch: "So, the setting is an alternative present, almost exactly like today, but with vajbags..."— Rozie Suppozie #FreeChelseaManning (@rozietoez) July 31, 2019
A lot of people were understandably fixated on card part.
But... driver's licenses and credit cards don't... bend...— The Disaster Ballet (@disasterballet) July 30, 2019
ohhhhhh my god
*I* cringed.— Jason Cineration (@Jack_B_Nimble) July 30, 2019
I’m cringing on behalf, which I try not to do, but damn!
Did the the writer never think to ask any woman he knew “hey: if you had two hard edged plastic cards, roughly 50 by 75mm, what would be the top two least comfortable places for you to keep them?”
I got to "driver's license" and was like pic.twitter.com/PnRRO2wrWD— Rachel ︽✵︽ Thorn (@rachel_thorn_en) July 31, 2019
There’s also the fact that a vagina is not…dry.
One gentleman thoughtfully translated the experience into cis-dude so that men with similar problems to the author might begin to understand it. “I have a small wallet that I keep up my urethra, just in case,” wrote @itsJeffTiedrich.
I have a small wallet that I keep up my urethra, just in case— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) July 30, 2019
And some people suggested that maybe the problem is the author himself has a very talented set of genitalia.
I think maybe the problem here is that the author thinks it's perfectly normal to keep his coin change in his scrotum-pouch.— Sheena (@S_h_e_e_n_a_) July 30, 2019
In the interests of fairness, Dr. Jenn Gunter, the internet’s favorite no-nonsense gynecologist, introduced us to this woman who apparently does use her vagina as a purse (and for a lot of other strange and painful-looking things). Perhaps Woods came across her and thought she was representative in some way instead of a very talented outlier (and still, she’s not putting flat rectangles in there).
I would like to point out there is one woman who apparently uses her vagina as a purse because she likes to carry things with her vagina. And she challenged me to a Vagina-Off. Because The Internets. https://t.co/Z34xUZvrWq— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) July 30, 2019
Libby Turner explained that it might not be the publisher’s fault at all, because usually if the author won’t budge ,their hands are tied.
Really? I mean, I know this, but I also think publishers need to start building a veto clause into their author contracts. There has got to be a male stupidity clause!— Angelasaurus Wrecks 🦖 (@AngelasaurusOz) July 30, 2019
Anna Mazzola was looking for ways to prevent this from happening again.
Today's question: should creative writing classes explain what vaginas are?— Anna Mazzola (@Anna_Mazz) July 30, 2019
While Reddit user keepingthisasecret posted some related rage fuel: Cis male authors can write this sort of nonsense while everyone else is still struggling to get past the gatekeeping.
One wholesome thing came out of it, however. So if you need eye bleach after reading all of this, Reddit has you covered: one user posted about storing a young kitten in her cleavage.
Aw. Let’s all think very hard about rescued baby animals and maybe we’ll forget about vagina purses for a while.
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org