About Dr Catherine Blackledge

I am the author of the non-fiction books Raising the Skirt: the Unsung Power of the Vagina (originally published in the UK as The Story of V) and The Man Who Saw the Future: a biography of 17th-century astrology William Lilly (2015). Someday soon I hope to publish my next non-fiction book; watch this space.

I grew up in the windswept countryside of the northwest of England, one-seventh of a large science-focused family. I have a science degree and science PhD and have worked as a science journalist and science communicator since my early twenties but amid all that rationality the esoteric has always fascinated. I blame Blackpool: my memories of day trips to the seaside town are coloured with visions of mysterious fortune-telling booths adorned with occult glyphs. I was enthralled then and still am.

The result: my interests and career span the worlds of science and the occult. I like the polarity. Life should be complex and interesting. As Albert Einstein said: ‘The most beautiful and deepest experience a person can have is the sense of the mysterious… To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp…’

Finding out I was infertile as I stood on the brink of adult life changed me in innumerable ways. Infertility corrodes and maims – but it also transforms. I am sadder but capable of finding joy much more easily. I am wiser and far more aware of how little I knew as a child and young adult about sex and fertility. Infertility was one of the catalysts in my becoming a heartfelt advocate for fertility, sex education and sexual equality. On a lighter note, my not-guilty pleasures include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, tap dancing and Depeche Mode.

I collect ‘Raising the Skirt’ stories: stories about women lifting their skirts to reveal their vaginas and making a vast array of extraordinary actions happen: averting evil, protecting families and communities and conferring fertility to the land and people.

Raising the skirt to display the vagina is a universal gesture of female power and pride that has been used individually and collectively for millennia by women to protect their home, family, sisters, community or way of life, or confer fertility and it’s making a comeback. If you have a story or artwork relating to how mighty the vagina is from your culture’s mythology, history or folklore then please share it with me. Or if you are a 21st century woman using ‘raising the skirt’ as a modern protest gesture, let me know.

I’m also on a mission to empower girls and women – ensuring we grow up confident and proud of what we have between our legs. I believe a vital first step in achieving this is using positive, respectful language for our genitals, that’s why I am campaigning too add the word verenda to the dictionary as the positive, respectful word for the vagina; it means the parts inspiring awe, respect or reverence. Please do sign and share my petition at www.change.org/SayVerenda and let’s change the world one word at a time.

To hear more of my musings on sex, fertility, astrology, the vagina, clitoris, ‘Raising the Skirt’ stories and other passions and inspirations, subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

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