Writer and Poet Lilly Garwood-Lloyd “I wanted to make a point about how much we associate the vagina with politics or ‘angry’ feminism because in truth it has become a political battleground”.
Lisa Lawrence, 23, London, England.
Lisa also writes under the name Lilly Garwood-Lloyd and describes herself as a vegetarian, atheist and feminist. Having successfully studied Drama, Applied Theatre and Education and graduated two years ago from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Lisa discovered feminism and this sparked her creativity to begin writing plays and what she calls “stand-up poetry”. With a background in all manner of creative expression including visual arts, graphic design and millinery Lisa is using her artistry to challenge feminist issues and engage with her audience.
What motivated you to deal with the subject of vaginas in your art?
As someone who has always been very unapologetic and outspoken on the topic of bodies and sex I suppose the ability to discuss the vagina came naturally to me, which it doesn’t for everyone. I felt a bit concerned that the only words many women feel comfortable using for their vagina are sexy or cutesy words, so I started trying to write poems about vaginas.
Tell us why you chose this submission?
I think humour has the ability to deliver a message in a way which helps you reach people who might otherwise not be willing to listen. I wanted to diffuse a lot of the fear people have about feminism and to show that feminists have a sense of humour and aren’t all angry!
The poems I chose to submit are ones which feature something which makes lots of people uncomfortable; vaginas. It seems alien to me that so many people can barely say the word ‘vagina’ when they came out of one. I wanted to make a point about how much we associate the vagina with politics or ‘angry’ feminism…because in truth it has become a political battleground, from contraceptives, to abortion, to rape the vagina features in each and every one. I wanted to lighten the tone, so every day people could feel able to discuss vaginas, take ownership of their vagina and see it as part of who they are (rather than a dusty storage cupboard for entertaining guests or a hallway for babies).
Naming your ninny
by Lisa Lawrence
I find I often envy men
cos they get to have a willy
not in a weird Freudian sense
but cos the word is cute and silly
Men get to have a todger
They get to have a winkie
even words like cock and dick
at least make it sound kinky
me, I’ve got a vag
an axe-wound or a gash
I dare you to find a word for it
Which isn’t gross or brash
Men can have meat and two veg
Something edible at least
Like a salami or a sausage
upon which one could feast
I don’t want to have a beaver
I want something which sounds nice
Fuck having a ‘Lady Garden’
I want something to entice
Words like dong or prick
aren’t such a terrible thing
and even the term bell end
has got a certain ring
See men have got a pork sword
A sort of weapon you could say
Even plain old penis
is nice in it’s own way
Not me, I’ve got a vagina
A cunt or maybe twat
where the only nice variant
is another word for cat
Who wants to sip from a furry cup
or plow a phoof or slit?
what’s sexy about a slut-hole
or just calling it a ‘clit’
I want a revolution
You see enough is quite enough
It’s not a fucking ninny
and it’s not a fucking muff
It may seem insignificant
and I really hate to whinge
but I swear to God I’ll kill someone
If they tell me it’s a minge!
My Vagina isn’t political
By Lisa Lawrence
My vagina isn’t political
My vagina doesn’t care
about all those deep philosophical things
like what to do with pubic hair
Why must my vagina be radical?
Politics isn’t her thing
she’d much rather talk about French lace
than cotton torpedoes with string
My vagina wants a quiet life
not too quiet, if you know what I mean
but she doesn’t want to talk about women’s rights
She’d much rather flick the bean
See my vagina, she’s too often distracted
by all the good looking men-folk
to be thinking about labour or childbirth
she just wants a damn good stroke
My vagina, she’s satirical
She doesn’t intend to be blunt
She doesn’t see why ‘pussy’ can’t be playful
or why we’re so afraid of ‘cunt’
Perhaps my vagina is lazy
but the truth is it’s all too complex
and like most other vaginas
she only really cares about sex!
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
I’ve always been incredibly drawn to rhyming poetry, it’s easy to be drawn into the rhythm and I think it is one of the best written forms of comedy. Also because poems can be any length, about any topic I find them incredibly enjoyable as a written medium. Whilst I also write plays I find poems pack a punch when they have a message in a much more direct way.
What is your process when creating?
The beauty of writing is you can do it anywhere, so a lot of my work is written into the notes on my iphone whilst undertaking journeys to and from work. Sometimes I also go low-tech with a good old fashioned paper and pen! In terms of contemplating a theme for a poem I’ll often start with a topic my friends and I have discussed, or something that frustrates me – my poem ‘Naming your ninny’ is really all based on my hatred of the word ‘minge’.
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
As a poet I’m incredibly inspired by Dr Seuss. His writing sucks me in every time, even now! As a playwright I’m influenced by the work of Harold Pinter and Sarah Kane. As an individual I’m inspired by my late Grandmother Sheila Cullen, who to me was the very definition of success, and the person I always aspired to be.
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
I think the word feminist is hugely misunderstood. To me feminism today is about equality for both genders, that does mean equal pay for women but it also means equal rights to paternity leave for fathers. For me feminism is about no one being prejudged based on their genitalia, a persons gender is far more complex than what is between their legs. I also think trans* issues like provisions of unisex bathrooms should be really high on our list of priorities as feminists. In many ways I don’t feel the word feminist is the best word to use to cover what I feel feminism is…but since gender equalist doesn’t have the same ring then I am very proud to call myself a feminist.
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
Having trained in Applied Theatre I’ve always been passionate about the role the arts plays in positive social change. I feel that all artists and creatives should be behind the ASLI philosophy. We all have a duty and a responsibility to use the incredible tools and skills we have for the betterment of others.
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
As a woman I have been shocked to realise how much my body apparently belongs to the public domain. People are happy to comment on what I need to do to make it look better and having moved to London I couldn’t believe how many strangers felt completely comfortable making sexualised comments about my body on the street. I do worry that women therefore feel a greater pressure for their bodies to meet certain standards than they do for their minds.
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
I am very privileged to have been born at a time and in a place where women enjoy more rights and freedoms freedoms than at any other time in history. However we are still so far from real equality for both sexes. A world where a woman can earn less than a man for the same job is not an equal world.
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
The more I learn about the world the more causes I find I am drawn to. I am passionate about feminism, gay rights/equal marriage, animal rights and anything which helps people steer away from consumerism.
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
Through those turbulent teenage years where I’m sure everyone everyone questions their existence and feels worthless the arts were the place where I found a community of like-minded people. It was in my drama classes that I first felt what it was like to belong and in my graphic design classes where I first learned to be comfortable with my own presence in silence.
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
I think art has an incredibly transformative power. If my work makes one person more comfortable talking about their genitalia, or changes the way they perceive feminism then I’m honestly delighted.
What are your goals as with your art?
My goal is to create poems that are provocative, entertaining and then make you think when you least expect it.
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
My next big goal with my feminist work is to promote an international community art project called the satirical vaginas which encourages participants from all walks of life to submit satirical doodles of vaginas as a way of encouraging discussion about the many different forms vaginas take. You can follow the project on twitter @SatiricalVagina
I’m also working on creating some performance films of my stand-up poetry and on a new play named ‘Made Glorious Summer’
If you would like to know more about Lilly Garwood-Lloyd follow these links: