Artwork for podcast Important, Not Important
Vaginas and Friends
Episode 13911th July 2022 • Important, Not Important • Important, Not Important
00:00:00 01:05:08

Share Episode


We have ignored vaginas for so long. Hear me out.

On the one hand, history and popular culture, from god-kings to love songs to movies to fan fiction, are littered with supposedly straight men with a single pursuit: intercourse with a vagina. 

But along the way these same men have pigeonholed women and their vaginas into simple vehicles for heterosexual sex or reproduction. They’ve ignored almost everything else in the area, and shamed women for even considering pleasuring themselves, or pleasure at all, for getting sick, for failing to carry a child, and more.

This ignorance touches everything – from the law to culture to racism to medicine to psychotherapy.

Sex-ed is under attack. Birth control is under attack. Reproductive rights are under attack. Trans rights are under attack.

There has simply never been a better or more consequential time to understand how and why the vagina and friends work, every day, not just on "sex day", or during menstruation or menopause, to understand what lies beneath and how incredible the whole thing can be – and how different one person’s setup can be from another.

My guest today is Rachel E. Gross.

Rachel is an award-winning science journalist based in Brooklyn whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Geographic, WIRED, New Scientist, Slate, Undark, and NPR, among others.

Rachel covers the debates and personalities that shape scientific knowledge, most recently as Digital Science Editor for Smithsonian Magazine. She has won the Award for Excellence in Religion Reporting, a Wilbur Award for Best Online Story, and she was a finalist for an Online Journalism Award in digital storytelling.

And in 2019 Rachel received a MacDowell Fellowship to complete research and reporting for her new book, Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage.

…and that is why we’re here today, to talk about vaginas. To be more inclusive, we’re here to talk about vaginas and friends.

Because there’s so much more to the vagina and her friends than you could possibly know. From the microbiome to the clitoris, we’re learning new things every day about a hugely meaningful and ignored part of 50% of our species.


Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to

New here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at


INI Book Club:


Follow us: