In the bookstore where I work there are books about the vagina.
They are critically acclaimed and prominently displayed.
None of them have an actual image of a vagina on the cover, of course. They have symbols, suggestions, sly visual puns. Allusion beats mimesis in the rock-paper-scissors game of book sales (and obscenity laws).
I began to collect them, in my mind: these substitutions.
I thought they were funny, even clever, until I spoke to a woman who had come in for a book on sociology.
She snorted. 'That's all we are to them,' she said. 'A shape.'