Do all women ejaculate? That was the question that triggered the debate between American journalist Zoe Mendelson and her ex-boyfriend in 2017. The crux of the matter was to find out if they all women really could do it or if it was something exclusive to some women. They turned to Google, and there began an exhaustive search to settle the discussion.
However, Zoe's surprise was greater when she discovered that there was almost no reliable information on the subject on the Internet. All that she managed to find were "nonsense answers" and "poor quality information," while specialized magazines and medical books "were incomprehensible." This is how the journalist spotted an opportunity to answer this and many other questions about female sexuality with the creation of an online encyclopedia.
"Being a journalist, I considered that an emergency," Mendelson said.
Two years later, together with a friend, Mexican illustrator María Conejo, Zoe released what would be the first free digital encyclopedia about the vagina, Pussypedia.
The encyclopedia's objective is to offer reliable, accessible and easy to understand information about the female body. Since its launch, 1 July 2019, Pussypedia has received more than 200,000 visits and captured the interest of both teenagers and adults. According to Instagram statistics of the encyclopedia's profile, almost 85% of the followers are identified as women, who show an avid interest in the subject.
What is the ‘pussy’?
María Conejo explains that the encyclopedia "is not only about the vagina", but encompasses all the genitalia that is referred to as 'pussy' in the texts. According to the illustrator, the project brings together articles in Spanish and English and also aims to be "gender and organ inclusive."
"We use 'pussy' in an attempt to adopt the English term that refers to the vagina, and encompasses the entire external part of the genitals that are the vulva, the clitoris … and the inner part that is the vagina, the uterus, the bladder, among others. We also include the anus and the testicles, taking into account other identities," the Mexican explained.
For Mendelson and Conejo, talking about female genitalia and their care helps demystify misconceptions and, most importantly, helps women to get to know themselves better.
"Sexuality and everything that has to do with our bodies is a taboo; we almost never talk openly about these issues. We are not used to talking to our mother or sisters about things that happen to us, such as "I have an itchy vulva"… Many times they are things that we hide because we're embarrassed," Conejo said.
According to the illustrator, we often end up consulting Google on these types of topics, and the answer is usually a combination of pornography pages and websites that don't have reliable sources. Conejo also stressed the importance of keywords, since in general people tend to summarize the entire genital area as the 'vagina' or use euphemisms to refer to specific parts that cause embarrassment.
Pussypedia has a three-dimensional model of the female body that can be explored in 360 degrees to see where each part is, and what it is called, or how these parts interact with each other.
"With Pussypedia, we want to change the way we talk about these things and completely eliminate the embarrassment about our bodies. We believe it is very dangerous to be embarrassed because, in addition to this being a form of oppression, when you're embarrassed you don't dare to explore your body, you don't dare to ask, nor do you know how to set your personal limits," she stressed.
So far, the most viewed article on the platform addresses the issue of vaginal discharges (more than 10,000 views).
Moreover, in Pussypedia you can find answers to simple questions such as "the proper way to sanitize the vulva" and "what the menstrual cycle is" to more complex ones, such as "the relationship between pesticides and fertility", and "donating ovules."
"We'd like Pussypedia to continue growing, to continue being free and to be translated into other languages; but we need to continue raising funds to go on," Conejo said. To keep the initiative alive, the page has an online store that sells customized Pussypedia products and receives donations.