I’m all for celebrating vaginas, but we don’t have to drink them

Posted by
Moya Crockett
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

A Polish brewery has launched the world’s first “vagina beer”. Let’s not make this a trend, please? 

Ever since the exposé of the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape, in which the then-presidential candidate was heard boasting about grabbing women’s genitals, women have been exulting the power of the vagina. At countless anti-Trump demonstrations around the world, women have donned pink pussy hats and carried placards reading messages like “I’d call you a c**t, but you don’t have the depth or the warmth”. More than four decades after avant-garde artist Shigeko Kubota created her famous performance piece Vagina Painting, vagina-centric feminism is cool once more.

This kind of vagina valorisation has its critics, not least people who think it excludes trans women and non-binary individuals. Personally, as a cis woman, I’ve always felt a little weirded out by the notion that my perfectly ordinary vagina is some kind of mystical portal imbued with untold feminist powers. For starters, this idea collapses in on itself as soon as you consider all the vagina-equipped women currently propping up the Trump administration, or writing vitriolic anti-women hit pieces for The Daily Mail. My vagina is a part of me, but it doesn’t define my identity as a woman or my feminism.

At the same time, I understand why many cis women do want to celebrate what’s underneath their trousers. Vaginal issues are still dangerously stigmatised in mainstream society: more than a third of UK women aged 25-35 have delayed a smear test because of embarrassment, according to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, while a survey by gynaecological cancer research charity Eve Appeal found that 65% of women “have a problem using the words vagina or vulva”. When you think about all the things that women with vaginas can go through – from giving birth to enduring painful conditions such as vaginismus and surviving FGM – it’s not surprising that so many see their genitalia as a symbol of strength.

But if you are a woman who’s partial to a ‘Pussy Power’ T-shirt or Etsy-bought vulva mug, I would ask that you steer clear of the latest trend in vagina merchandise: vagina beer. 

“There are plenty of ways for women to celebrate their vaginas. This really, really isn’t one of them”

That’s right. According to multiple reports, a Polish brewery called The Order of Yoni recently started selling a lager imbued with lactic acid from women’s vaginas. The controversial beer company first gained international attention back in 2016, when it began seeking financial backing for the ‘vagina beer’ on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that crowdfunding effort was unsuccessful: Wojtek Mann, The Order of Yoni’s founder, says he was only able to raise 1578 euros (£1,400) of his 150,000 euro (£133,000) target. Since then, however, The Order of Yoni has apparently received backing from a sole investor, and the beer is now on sale in Warsaw for 25 zloty (£5) a bottle.

You might assume that the company is attempting to tap into the pro-vagina feminism of the last few years, but it’s so much worse than that. The marketing imagery for the beer features two models, ‘Monika’ and ‘Paulina’, posing in satin lingerie and sucking on beer bottles in a suggestive manner. The Order of Yoni isn’t trying to exploit women’s feminist leanings to make money; it’s trying to exploit straight men’s horniness to make money. Per the brewery’s website:

“Imagine [the] woman of your dreams, your object of desire. Her charm, her sensuality, her passion… Try how she tastes, feel her smell, hear her voice… Now imagine her giving you a passionate massage and gently whispering anything you’d like to hear.

“Now free your fantasies and imagine all of that can be closed in a bottle of beer. A golden drink brewed with her lure and grace and flavoured with wild instincts. Imagine a beer which every sip offers a rendez-vous [sic] with this hot woman of your dreams… she hugs you and kisses you gently, looking straight into your eyes… How much would you give for such a beer?”

Watch: Why I wish I’d booked my cervical screening earlier 

If you’re thinking ‘I would give absolutely nothing for such a beer, because it is thankfully impossible to bottle a 14-year-old boy’s wet dream’, then we’re on the same page. Later on, the marketing blurb moves into the realm of the truly surreal, explaining that the brewery uses “hi-tech of microbiology [sic]” to “isolate, examine and prepare lactic acid bacteria from vagina of a unique woman”.

This apparently transfers the woman’s “features, allure, grace, glamour and her instincts into beers and other products, turning them into dance with lovely goddess [sic]”. Never drunk a graceful, instinctive, glamorous beer with the alluring features of a woman before? You haven’t lived.

Most of the time, it’s infuriating when drinks companies use overtly gendered marketing to sell alcohol (remember the backlash to Czech brewery Aurosa’s “Beer for Her” and BrewDog’s satirical “Pink IPA”?). 

In this situation, however, I’m really OK with The Order of Yoni marketing their lager directly at heterosexual men with a shaky grasp on science. There are plenty of ways for women to celebrate their vaginas. This really, really isn’t one of them.

Images: Charles Deluvio / Unsplash