I have started to find that I frequently use the word “vagina” as a part of my everyday vocabulary. To my friends, not much surprises them anymore. But when talking to people I have just met, I often notice the look of shock at how I easily throw around the word, and I do realize they may initially feel that I have very inappropriate conversations. Ok, I’m sorry for your discomfort, but here’s the truth…VAGINA is one of the most important elements of life. No one should feel ashamed or uncomfortable to talk about it, not ever! One of my favorite mentors, the brilliant author and midwife Ina May Gaskins, described the attitudes associated to the many words referring to a woman’s genitalia. In the preface to her most recent book Spiritual Midwifery, she states how modern culture perceives the vagina as a dirty, inferior organ [to the penis] that is constantly used in a negative “vulgar” context.
Another writer, Lissa Rankin, was told that her article 15 Curious Things You May Not Know About the Vagina was originally accepted to be published on a major news website (for its brilliant facts and ideas), but was then rejected after the company execs found the word to be “too saucy” for the public…WTF?! She comments about this subject, further adding that several tampon commercials were banned for their use of the word vagina on TV, and it is often censored on the radio (http://www.owningpink.com/blogs/owning-pink/sperm-trumps-vagina-wtf).
What has our society come to, that we feel the need to reject and degrade such a significant organ? Fortunately, my mother has been a transcriber for an OB/GYN practice for as long as I can remember, so books and diagrams of the female reproductive system have always been a “normal” presence when I was growing up. However, I feel much sympathy for women that grow up under the ludacris influence of conservative masculine society that strongly encourages avoidance of the entire concept altogether. Thus women are uninformed and uncomfortable with their bodies and how they work. This can have a variety of consequence related to low self esteem, not feeling “normal,” being afraid to ask questions, and being fearful to seek routine care. Goodness how difficult puberty must have been! Believe it or not, I have actually come across people that TRULY believe that the vagina is an endless cavity, and that tampons and contraceptive products can get forever lost into their body. Sorry to break it to you guys, but it IS actually a dead end up there…its hardly likely that anything would ever get so “lost” that you couldn’t find it with your fingers. Heaven forbid girls to ever touch themselves….(see my blog”The soft squishy thing”).
Here is one of my favorite Ina May quotes from Spiritual Midwifery that pretty much sums up this entire blog, and of which I think every woman should live by…
“There is nothing vulgar about my body, and if some words suggest the opposite to many people, I think they need to hear these words proudly spoken (and see them written) enough that innocent words no longer possess such a crazy-making power over us. I just might want to have a cunt one day, and a twat the next. On the third day, I might decide that pussy is my favorite word!”
I think one of my favorite parts about my seemingly “inappropriate” common use of these words, its that it often leads to a great conversations, igniting people to openly ask all those unanswered questions they’ve had, and really bring about the topic of the female reproductive system in a far more intriguing manner than your 5th grade sex ed class. The truth is, I learn SO MUCH about these things everyday, and I could talk for hours with “did you know…?” and I really love to inform people about this stuff (if you haven’t already picked up on that..).
So I encourage everyone….ask questions, get answers, know your bodies (women), and know understand how it works (men), talk to your kids (better you give them the facts than let others give them myths) and don’t fall into the anti-feminist influence that says you are dirty and vulgar for doing so.
Empower yourselves ❤