As I have mentioned before, I am working on a paper examining the imagery in Gonzales v. Carhart, the US Supreme Court's recent opinion upholding a federal statute banning so-called "partial birth abortion." In particular, I am thinking about the almost complete disappearance of "the woman" whose physical and emotional well-being, present and future, depends on the Court's decision. Almost complete, because she leaves her vagina behind and subject to intense scrutiny as she otherwise vanishes from the Court's view, like a bizarre Cheshire Cat. Now, I have a friend who I know from an internet forum who includes a picture of this carving as part of her signature:
Parochial mid-American bumpkin that I am, I had no idea what this was until she told me it is a sheela na gig, one of hundreds found in nooks and crannies of old Norman churches all over Ireland, England and Wales. Whatever its origin, which is lost in the mists of time, the sheela na gig is a wonderful image to compare to the Court's crotch shot for many reasons I haven't even had time to explore yet, among them the fact that the sheela's alert and cheerful face is as prominent as her pudendum, over which she is clearly exercising control.