Science communicator, comedian and presenter Florence Schechter reveals what it’s like being up to her eyeballs in vagina all day
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS. PHOTOGRAPHY ANGUS YOUNG 2019
Florence Schechter has many job titles. Science communicator, comedian, presenter, video producer… And when she’s not doing all of that? She’s busy building the newly-opened The Vagina Museum. The first one in the world.
In the planning stages since 2017, when Florence realised there was a serious lack of vagina-shaped research out there, The Vagina Museum will take a look at the science and history behind vaginas and their place in culture in an inclusive and intersectional way.
And best of all? It’s now opened its doors to the general pubic… sorry, public. Let’s find out more…
DIVA: How would you describe an average day in five words?
FLORENCE SCHECHTER: People not understanding my job.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
What was the driving factor in deciding to “go for it” in terms of your career?
The thought of having an office job made me want to die. And then in my 20s, I had no choice but to take one, and it turned out I was right.
What has been the biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
The trolls. The best way to beat them is to join them. Usually our kind of trolls just use the Vagina Museum as a jumping off point for a bad joke. When you get in on the joke with them, they often gain respect for you. For example, this tweet: “Please stop comparing us to Parliament, vaginas are actually useful”.
What’s the funniest/most ridiculous thing that’s happened so far?
Probably the unsolicited vagina pics we get – sometimes in the post or by email. People will just send us their art, which is fantastic, but super random.
Has your sexuality, gender identity or race ever been an issue?
Sexuality – somewhat. A lot people don’t realise I’m bisexual because I’m dating a man. Why is it surprising the person building a Vagina Museum likes vaginas? Gender identity – no, and I am very aware of my privilege in regards to this. Race – yes. I am white, which affords me a lot of privilege in life. But I am also an Ashkenazi Jew which is a type of white minority. I get a lot of very vile antisemitism online. But on the other hand, my community is mostly supportive of the Vagina Museum, which is surprising considering it is quite conservative. Although for some people it took a while to warm up to the idea.
Did you ever have any doubts about being out at work?
Generally not. I’m sometimes too confident, to my detriment.
What advice would you give someone pursuing a similar venture?
Don’t listen to the haters and the naysayers. Obviously be realistic about your project and your skills, but often people will tell you that you can’t do something because they can’t do it. But then isn’t it a good thing you’re doing it and not them?
Who inspires you professionally?
Greta Thurnberg. I love how she unashamedly speaks truth to power.
What one superpower would make your job easier?
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
How do you measure success?
To be honest, in bad ways, like how many things I’ve ticked off of my to do list or how much is in the bank. I would like to be able to retrain my mind to measure it in happiness and impact.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully building the permanent Vagina Museum.
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