Sexual Intelligence Awards, 2008 (2)

Each year, Sexual Intelligence Awards honor individuals and organizations which challenge the sexual fear, unrealistic expectations, and government hypocrisy that undermine love, sex, and relationships—and political freedom—today.

One of this year’s recipients is Petals, the book & film. Here’s why:

Petals started as a book, edited by Nick Karras and published in 2003 (currently available at

Now it’s available as a DVD, directed by Beck Peacock (currently available at The film describes how Karras created the book, a lovely collection of black-and-white photographs of vulvas. Yes, vulvas. Similar to Femalia (a wondrous achievement) but different in tone (it’s amazing how much softer and more artistic the pictures look in black and white), Petals is a simple yet powerful series of photos of the body part most women and men never look at.

And are these vulvas gorgeous! They range from tidy to voluptuous, from art deco to baroque.

The film shows some half-dozen of the photos. It also features interviews of some of the women shown in the book, and even follows one woman before, during, and after being photographed. The women’s words are moving, funny, and thought-provoking.

Our foremother Betty Dodson is also interviewed, and some of her early vulva artwork is shown. In all, the book and film are a wonderful contribution to the appreciation of our precious sexuality. Vulvas—so important to most of us, so complex in our thoughts, so lovely in their displayed glory.

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