Pukiusap is a funny, informative and brave comic book by Swedish artist Liv Strömquist translated into Filipino by Beverly W. Siy.
Originally published as Kunskapens frukt, Strömquist’s book is definitely a must-read with its fun and upbeat artwork serving as the perfect medium to discuss the rather controversial topic of the evolution of female sexuality from the stone age to modern times. Its exploration of the gender’s place in society through history combined with hard facts on female anatomy reinforces the importance of self-knowledge towards attaining true women empowerment and gender equality in our communities.
The choice to translate it to Filipino is such a brilliant decision and I highly commend Ms. Siy for the awesome work. Reading this book in my native language enhances the experience of getting in touch with my identity as a woman and somehow made it much more effective than if it was in English. I should mention that Ms. Siy is also one of my favorite local female authors. One of her books I’ve read and highly recommend is It’s a Mens World 💖 I do think that her sense of humor and impressive wit is a perfect match for Liv Strömquist.
I really love the play on words of the title “Pukiusap” Puki meaning vagina, Usap meaning conversation. Pukiusap also sounds like the Filipino word Pakiusap which means request or plea, and yes can we PLEASE sit down and finally talk about female sexuality?? I think it’s about time.
It is both a fun read and a horrific one. I almost could not bear to read about the experiments and injustice done on innocent women suspected of witchcraft and other sins invented by misogynist people in positions of power. There was so much hate for the clitoris for centuries, which proves just how much people really fear the things they don’t know.
I am reminded of how when I was younger, I was never really fully informed of my own anatomy. Everything was treated as taboo, even sanitary pads were supposed to be hidden at all times, as if a menstrual period is a thing to be ashamed of. The lack of structured sexual education in Philippine schools also meant most of the teens from my generation get their paltry knowledge from watching porn videos which we all know mostly serves only male sexual desires.
Perhaps my favorite takeaway from this wonderful book is that, the vagina (and the female reproductive system as a whole) is not just an absence of the penis. It is not just a hole to be filled but a tough and beautiful part of my body that can take on a lot of pounding, pain, pressure, and even produce a new life.
This book is definitely a step in the right direction towards promoting feminism and female empowerment. It should be required reading for all teens out there–female and male both. It is time for the girls to embrace the strength of their sexuality, and for boys to respect the opposite sex as an equal. It’s never too early to start proper education. We owe it to all the misunderstood and abused women before us to continue the fight. 🌸