This October, we’re excited to finally return to Mexico City for a new edition of our annual event on the impact of design. Among the 20+ top speakers joining us are creative powerhouses Zoe Mendelson and María Conejo, whose glorious new book Pussypedia: A Comprehensive Guide, just hit the shelves worldwide.
Hard to miss in its hot pink jacket, this rigorously fact-checked and beautifully illustrated guide to women’s health is essential for anyone with a pussy. Readers can expect a wide range of articles—some more scientific, others deeply personal—about topics like pleasure, menopause, reproductive rights and safe sex. But ultimately, Pussypedia is more about agency than about vulvas, and was created to address the lack of accurate, accessible information about all of our bodies. “We have grown up in a world where the media has taught us (without consent) how the ideal body should be—as if there was just one correct body type in a world where thousands of millions of diverse humans exist—and how we should relate to our own body and to others,” explains the book’s illustrator, María. “What I was interested in representing with the illustrations in Pussypedia is that there are more possibilities of feeling about our own bodies,” she adds. “More possibilities to relate to others and to love oneself, than the heteronormative ways patriarchy has set on us.”
“We have grown up in a world where the media has taught us (without consent) how the ideal body should be—as if there was just one correct body type.”
Through over 30 chapters, Pussypedia not only gives readers information, but teaches them how to read science, how to consider information in its context, and how to accept what we don’t know rather than search for conclusions. “I hope that people will get a better understanding of their bodies and of how our understanding about our bodies have been suppressed historically; a better understanding of how gender narratives change the way science studies our bodies and the way we experience them physically,’ explains Zoe, who is the wordsmith behind the project. “Besides all of that, I just hope that people will read this book and then feel normal. I hope people feel less shame. I hope people get the mental space and dignity back that the white supremacist patriarchy has stolen from them.”
In the end, Pussypedia is essential reading for people of all genders and sexes. “We think people without pussies will get a lot out of it too,” tells Zoe. “I know you’re never supposed to make something for everyone, but I tried anyway. There’s enough we all share emotionally: shame, joy, liking knowing other people’s personal business. Our most core feelings unite us, so in trying to make something for everyone, I focused a lot on that.”
‘We wanted to create community’
Beyond the book, Pussypedia also lives online as a free, bilingual encyclopedia run by Zoe and María. The Mexico City-based duo launched the website in 2017, partly as a way to bring forth a more inclusive use of the word ‘pussy’. The platform now includes an interactive model of the ‘whole-pussy system’, a portal of vetted resources and a catalogue of original articles written by volunteers from all over the world. “It had to be community-sourced, because that’s the resource we had: our community. Another reason it’s important: we wanted people with diverse perspectives to all work together so that the site would be something that reflected our diversity,” they explain. “Also, we wanted to create community through the project. Lots of people who didn’t know each other collaborated closely, teaching each other, learning from each other, and bringing something to life for the world together. And that just feels pretty cool!”
If you’re curious to learn more about the project, catch Zoe and María on our stage this 28-29 October at WDCDMX GNP 2021. You can tune in live online or join us at the stunning Angela Peralta open-air theatre in Mexico City, where we’ll welcome an exciting line-up of talks, performances and panels. For tickets and programme information, visit: whatdesigncando.com/events/wdcdmx2021/
Illustrations by María Conejo. All images courtesy Pussypedia.