The Vagina Dialogues

LouisaShame & Sexuality, What The Matriarch Sees

Lydia and Caroline insisted. These girls, my friends, had booked a trip all the way to Sweden to help me start to love my body. If only for that, I had to swallow my pride and indignity at saying the words...

“Say it again,” they said.

“I’ve said it like 10 times already. When can I stop?”

“When you don’t have to ask if you can stop,” said one of them. “It’s obviously making you uncomfortable so you have to say it as many times as it takes, not to.”

“But why do I need to say it. I don’t like the word.”

“It’s only a word. ‘Could you say…I have ears?’ for example…”

I giggled at that. It was a minor relief in the “uncomfortableness” of the situation.

“Go on then.”

So I looked in the mirror at the person I hardly recognised and said “I have a vagina.”

“Make me believe it,” she said.

“This is ridiculous,” I said getting angry."I don’t need to prove what's between my legs to you.”

And I knew perfectly well that the person I was getting angry with was myself, not them. So I said the words again. And again. And again. And I looked at myself saying them. But I had to cry out my inherited shame before I could say it and start to mean it. Even now, I am only at the beginning of my journey. How can I love myself if I can’t even speak about one of the most important parts of my body?

I am not alone. From the recent article in The Independent…

The events at the Michigan House of Representatives already represent some kind of turning point. Lisa Brown concluded her speech with the words, “Mr Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no’.” She later said, “If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating [on] vaginas? What language should I use?” One of her Republican colleagues explained, “What she said was offensive. It was so offensive that I don’t want to say it in front of women.” Indeed. God forbid they find out they have a vagina!

A vagina is the passage from the vulva to the cervix. The vulva is the exterior genital organs of a woman (I learned this at 37 years old). Most people still confuse the two. I think if I’d have been calling my mouth ‘a throat’ for 37 years, someone would have corrected me. But we don’t talk about it.

The genitals are the hottest place on a woman’s body. It’s from here that our power emanates. It’s the organ that gives birth to our babies. It’s the organ that gives us the greatest physical – and maybe spiritual – pleasure you can know here on earth through sex. When you reflect on it (which I don’t normally), vaginas are amazing.

It can be hairy, throbbing, pink, even purple, sweaty and can leave a somewhat slimy trail if you sit down without a pair of knickers. It also has a distinct smell. It bleeds once a month. It is, in all senses, very different to the rest of your body. The vast majority of Western women do everything we can to eradicate its texture, smell and appearance. From total Brazilian waxes and vaginal deodorants to vajazzling and labiotomies. In fact, the perfect porn pussy is like the rest of the ‘model’ industry. Impossible to attain without surgery, obsession and/or photoshop.

Flowers are beautiful, and exist to reproduce. How do they go about it? Usually by flaunting their sexual organs as extravagantly as they possibly can. There’s no shame in nature.

The most exotic are the most admired… and here they are exuberantly and beautifully protruding, just like vaginae--that’s the latin plural form. Not that anyone uses it.

Men give women flowers to symbolize affection. It’s no coincidence – a flower is symbolic of a woman’s sexual organs. Not so much ‘I love you’ as ‘I want to shag you’. If a man gave you a dozen stalks, because the flower itself was considered obscene, what would we think?  The flower is indeed the most beautiful part and rightly so. It is that which allows us to create life. We are the product of evolution. Minds, Bodies and Spirit. And yet we are nothing without our sexual organs. We are the stalks…for our flowers. Extinct. Dead. Thankfully, they are – it appears – hugely attractive at least biologically speaking.

So where did we learn this hate for our vaginas? Religion, of course. It's not a coincidence that my adoptive mother went to school at a convent.

Human minds  will do anything to blame actions on someone/something else if it involves being right or wrong and sex (being severely restricted in our christian ‘monogamous’ culture) is restricted. So as is our wont, we will trespass against those ‘rules’ and men need something to blame… lo, the female sexuality, represented by our vaginas (english plural form ;-).

We bleed from our vaginas. The menstrual cycle is a renewal and cleansing cycle which has been turned into something revolting by Christianity. A menstruating woman is not to be touched or approached for 7 days because she is ‘unclean’. That also includes anything touching her (for example her clothes), or anywhere she sits. See Leviticus 15 verses 19~30.

Each and every month women become unclean, and any self respecting and Bible believing man will not sit in a chair that an unclean woman has polluted with her Satanic cooties.

Yes, the vagina. It’s quite impressive really that women still manage to reproduce at all, in many cases rather enjoyably. Because the patriarchy via religion and society norms has dictated that our vaginas need to look a certain way. Smell a certain way. Be shaped a certain way. And now horrifically, in the United States, be functionally governed by State laws made by men.

It’s our battle. So let’s start trying to be proud of our amazing genitals, because if we aren’t, as sure as hell no one else will give them an iota of respect. Can you look in the mirror and say…

‘I love my vagina.’

…And believe it?

The Vagina Voyage

I've been on quite a journey to try and love my vagina. Many of the people I grew up with are appalled. Others I've got to know, love me for trying to love myself. And I think that's quite a beautiful thing.