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Last year, Mexico City-based writer and content strategist Zoe Mendelson found herself up at night scouring the Internet for what she thought was a pretty straightforward question.
For all her Internet searching, the results were inconclusive.
Frustrated by the complex medical jargon of reliable resources and the abundance of false information polluting the Internet, Mendelson teamed up with longtime friends Jackie Jahn, a PhD student at the Harvard School of Public Health with a focus on gender studies; and Maria Conejo, a graphic artist whose work is based in a feminist discourse and women’s bodies, to create something more accessible.
Enter Pussypedia, a free, bilingual digital resource aiming to answer questions people didn’t even realize they had, say its founders.
A full database is coming in 2019, but this week, Pussypedia launched a site to garner additional support.
Pussypedia will offer up articles about menopause, pregnancy, masturbation and contraception, but will also provide information on topics like transmasucline and transfeminine vaginal health. The site will offer three-dimensional vagina renderings to help people understand where everything is in relation to other body parts. Since sex education isn’t available to everyone, having the database in English and Spanish “amplifies the reach of the information,” Mendelson says.
Sarah Prager, an obstetrician/gynecologist and professor at University of Washington Medical Center, says a comprehensive source like Pussypedia is long overdue.
“There are absolutely not enough resources out there for women to recognize themselves and their anatomy,” she says. “A lot of women simply look to porn, and consequently get really skewed versions of what reality is.”
The lack of sexual education in more conservative areas of Mexico, along with machismo culture, often leads to stigma around topics concerning sexuality.
Many Americans, too, remain misinformed and embarrassed by health topics that are considered “taboo.”
“I’ve had people come in before completely freaked out about a lump, and after doing an exam, I’ll tell them, ‘that’s your cervix.’ It makes me sad that people aren’t getting the education to know where everything is and how it all works,” says Prager.
She also says much of the quality content available is limited to heteronormative features and outdated information. Pussypedia is placing a huge emphasis on inclusivity.
Working with specialists in transgender and non-binary discourse, along with disabilities consultants, the team hopes to fill a void in content that is inclusive of as many communities as possible.
In a recent Kickstarter fundraising push, the team raised roughly $22,000 ($423,354 MXN) to build out the site, work with consultants and program the 3D model.
And as for why they chose this name? Mendelson says it’s an attempt to stop those who try to shame or silence curiosity.
“The pussy is grabbing back,” Mendelson says. “It’s already being reappropriated, and we love it.”