I’ve been doing some research into the history of a certain kind of common early taillight known as the Duolamp, a little unit which was common on old Fords and other cars of the teens through the 1930s. Because these cars often got hot-rodded in later years, these lamps have remained at a certain level of aftermarket popularity, even inspiring some novelty knockoffs. Among these knockoffs is a truly remarkable sub-genre, something I had no idea existed, but appears to exist in several forms: the vulva taillight.
Yep, I put those words together deliberately. Vulva and taillights. You may have heard them called vagina taillights or perhaps more likely “pussy” taillights or something like that, but technically they’re vulva taillights since I don’t think any interior vaginal structures are replicated inside that taillight.
I do realize that you might prefer to call them vagina taillights because if you try to ask for vulva taillights at your local AutoZone, you’re likely to be handed this:
...which, of course, is a very different thing.
So, why do these exist? I’ve seen a few different versions of them, and you can buy these on Etsy, even, though I’m not entirely clear if these are vintage ones, modern remakes, or one-off craft versions. I think all three are around.
What all of them have in common is that they are standard-size, single-lens Duolamp housing taillights with the lens replaced with a lens that incorporates a representation of a human vulva, complete with labias minora and majora and a curious little clitoris peeking out.
Some versions seem to have a red glass lens, some have a plastic lens with an integrated reflector, and some have an add-on opaque white vulva adhered to a red plastic reflective lens.
I think most of these are sold to the motorcycle market, which has been using Duolamps on choppers and other custom cycles for decades.
I suspect there’s a lot of overlap in the chopper and hot rod building communities, and both of those groups seem to have an affinity for societal-norms-pushing novelties like “dirty” taillights.
There also seems to be a parallel movement of less vulgar sculpted taillight lenses, like Jesus lenses.
For example, I’ve noticed a Duolamp variation that seems to have been around since, I suspect, the ‘60s or ‘70s, targeted at hot rodders. Where many original Duolamps incorporated the word “STOP” into the lens of the upper stop lamp, there’s a version that has “FUCK U” embossed on the lenses, so you can tell people you’ve never met who happen to be behind you when you apply your brakes fuck you without having to go through the effort of turning around and bellowing it.
It’s a real handy time-saver!
Now, while I haven’t been able to find exact history on these sorts of novelty taillights yet, I’m happy to extrapolate a bit. You can see how the idea of flashing a word like STOP could easily foster people imagining that it would be fun to flash something more transgressive, like, you know, FUCK U, so it’s not a big leap to see how these lights would have come around.
I suspect once that initial seal on vulgar taillights was broken, all sorts of other options would have come flooding in, and the idea of displaying genitals seems reasonable.
It’s hardly the first time we’ve seen false genitalia sold as a car accessory; Truck Nutz are A Thing too, remember. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the taillight vulvas pre-date them.
The interesting thing about the light-vulvas is that they’re somewhat less confrontational than the actively hostile FUCK U taillight, for example. You could interpret them as almost celebratory, a glowing scarlet tribute to an organ held in high esteem by the driver or rider, or perhaps they’re a boast, suggesting that the car or bikes owner has such free and unfettered access to such genitals that they felt it was appropriate to carve them onto their brake lights.
Really, they’re pretty open to interpretation, and I can easily see how actual owners and operators of vulvas may embrace them as an empowering symbol of their own biology. I’m not here to tell you how to appreciate vaginal taillights, I’m just making sure you’re aware of them.
Illuminated, some of these have the same sort of intimate loveliness as a Georgia O’Keefe flower painting, so I could see someone appreciating them on just an aesthetic level, though it would be nearly impossible to divorce them from all their connotations, so be aware of that if you’re considering a set for your car.
I hope knowing these exist helps you appreciate the world a little more.