concept    violence against women    sexual violence    causes of violence   need for action


LIFE and LIMB _ The positive Power of Femininity / Focus 2016/2017
Idea, Concept, Organisation: © Kerstin Rajnar

LIFE and LIMB - The positive power of femininity gives a positive self-understanding about femininity and moves women powerful into life. The superior topics include themes like: Health, medical care, enlightenment, sexuality, violence, birth, give life ...

The origin of the term „body and life" goes back to the 16th century. This is a so- called pair of legal formulas, which probably arises from the alliteration. Originally "body" was equal to "life" [1]

In today's language usage the meaning of „life and limb" refers to how one „is" in fact – how she/he lives and is [1]

There are various different associations referring the term of „life and limb":
The body of Christ – the central thought of the New Testament
Fear of body and life - in the context of losing one's life
Offenses against body and life – Moses 2 – chapter 21
With body and soul – refers to the physical and spiritual unity of human beings and gives subject to philosophical and religious reflections since ancient times
Body and life – related to physiotherapy and body-related-work
Concerns about body and life – regarding concerns about ourselves, our physical existence. This one - in a special way – is task of medicine and nursing care. Corporeality is one of the key terms of today's ethic debates regarding medicine and nursing care.

"Corporeality is the signature of our human existence. We do not only have a body but we also are body. The body represents the unity and the history of our lives. It leaves its traces on and in our body, and the face of a human being contains - in abbreviations - his whole biography. Body and life, somatic history and life history form an inner unity."[2]

The term of danger for body and life is also used in conjunction with the law and is utilized in various respects in order to derive special powers or actions from it. The usage of fire-arms – for example - under certain circumstances is allowed such as at the risk of our own or somebody else's life. Generally this serves security.[3]

The Tenth Section of the Criminal Code "Criminal Actions against Sexual Integrity and Self-Determination" from § 201 to § 220 establishes the legal provisions for sexual violence against persons.

On the other hand, the term body and life is also associated with (life and) health, physical integrity, in good health, since the word body is closely linked to the physiological and biological functions of the body: body-fruit, blessed body, well-being, abdomen... Life is the state that someone or something is alive and not dead.

LIFE and LIMB - The positive power of femininity is an honest reflection on the subject of female sex, makes a positive contribution to the self-understanding of femininity, and brings it into life.

The reflections are presented as contributions in the ARCHIVE and in the GALLERY and mutually linked.

The scientific contribution of VAGINALOGY is part of the virtual ARCHIVE of VAGINAMUSEUM.at and offers insights into the topics woman, body, sexuality and society from the perspective of a young scientist. For a long time, various forms and functions concerning the female sexual organ have been a matter of mysticism. Also research is still reluctant when it comes to new insights in sexology. This is why we are presently still confronted with secrets and myths around the female body and sexuality which cause deceptive assumptions and belief systems.

VAGINALOGY clearly and concisely represents the current state of research as well as different perspectives of various questions and problems. VAGINALOGY symbolizes physical and mental aspects of femininity, clarifies predominant mental constructs and presents the current scientific insights.



In the virtual exhibition GEBURT_to animate the life-giving through the birth is also addressed, also metaphorically seen as positive meaning of the saying "body and life". The "interior" of the functional female body is investigated as a cultural place of origin - as a nest and as a place of reception and a venue for new life. Biological gender constructions and their impact on the social level, fertility conditions as well as natural and artificial births are of interest.
The animation is intended as a formal expression for the exhibition. The linear juxtaposition of individual images, or the creation of audio-visual sequences, enables the viewer to look at contentual connections and thus expands the statement of a detached image detached from the context. The networking of individual sequences corresponds, analogously to the virtual data network, to an interacting system and allows the intervention in the action process.

While the human process of childbirth is accompanied by real blood, „Lifeblood“ flowing with the birth of art - an "animation“ of the thoughts.

GEBURT_to animate >>


Women experience violence at home, at work, in the public and on the Internet.

According to studies launched by the „WHO World Health Organization" all around the globe 33% of women are victims of domestic violence. Between 100 and 140 million women are affected by genital mutilation. About 7% of women were raped once in their lives.

A report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows the results of the world's largest survey on violence against women:[4]

  33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. That corresponds to 62 million women.

  22% have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner.

  5% of all women have been raped. Almost one in 10 women who have experienced sexual violence by a non-partner, indicate that more than one perpetrator was involved in the most serious incident.

  43% have experienced some form of psychological violence by either a current or a previous partner, such as public humiliation; forbidding a woman to leave the house or locking her up; forcing her to watch pornography; and threats of violence.

  33% have childhood experiences of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an adult. 12% had childhood experiences of sexual violence, of which half were from men they did not know. These forms of abuse typically involve an adult exposing their genitals or touching the child's genitals or breasts.

  18% of women have experienced stalking since the age of 15 and 5% in the 12 months prior to the interview. This corresponds to 9 million women. 21% of women who have experienced stalking said that it lasted for over 2 years.

  11% of women have experienced inappropriate advances on social websites or have been subjected to sexually explicit emails or text (SMS) messages. 20% of young women (18-29) have been victims of such cyberharassment.

  55% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. 32% of all victims of sexual harassment said the perpetrator was a boss, colleague or customer.

  67% did not report the most serious incident of partner violence to the police or any other organisation.

In Austria, at least every 5th woman living in a relationship is a victim of physical violence, and every 2nd woman knows such a case in her immediate surroundings.[5]

Recent reliable, representative figures on the spread of violence in Austria do not exist. The estimated number of unknown cases is certainly higher.


According to a study published in 2011 by the ÖIF (Austrian Prevalence Study on Violence against Women and Men) almost 74,2% of all women already have experienced sexual harassment and 29.5% have experienced sexual violence.

Sexual violence leaves behind a series of severe physical, psychological and psychosomatic traumatization on affected women and girls. As a result of the ever-increasing public awareness and the de-abstraction of the topic, those concerned have begun to turn to advisory facilities in order to receive an adequate support in processing their experiences.

Experience of violence is also reflected in gynaecological problems such as pelvic pain, a higher risk for underweight new-borns, unwanted pregnancies, and pregnancy abortions. Chronic pain, gastrointestinal diseases and poor general health can be possible indicators of domestic violence.[6]


Various theories have already been used to analyse the causes of violence against women, but none of the explanatory models seems to be universally valid. Obviously, however, violence against women cannot be found in the individual sphere of life, but is rather an expression of an existing social inequality of women inside the social structure.

Prominent feminists representing this approach are Rebecca Dobash and Russell Dobash (University of Manchester), who released a report of analysis of the historical development "Women, Violence, and Social Change" (1992) that women have always been and still are systematically suppressed by violence.

Violence against women is the expression of the historically unequal power relations between men and women which has led to male domination of women being discriminated and therefor prevented from full individual development.
(Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women)

Violence affects women of all ages, all levels of income and cultures.


The need of intervention and action seems to be even of more importance than ever before:

VAGINAMUSEUM.at - first virtual museum of the female gender (and even the only one of its kind in the world) - as a cultural information- and educational platform - has the goal to provide education and enlightenment through positive visualization of the female sex and making her sustainably visible as in a positive way and giving her the possibility to make a lasting impression entirely as whole. Self-confidence, creativity and faith – in order to show up just a few potentials of Femininity - can be strengthened and promoted. Men also experience a positive approach. Adolescents of both sexes experience a positive education.

Those changes in the views on the female sex and thus on the woman would break down prejudices, break norms, and move appreciation of femininity to the foreground.

(Translation: D. Lesner)