I wanted to write a piece today that is a little more academic than just my own opinion so here goes…
Today is V-Day (Vulva Day) and this is why it is important…because people find it difficult to discuss the female genitalia!!! Why?! Why does the frank discussion of this structure make people uncomfortable?!
For fifty percent of us it makes up a pretty big part of our identity then the other half (or pretty much) are lucky to get to explore this wonderful biological composition first hand (and more) so why on Earth it makes you uneasy is really quite a foreign discomfort to me.
I take issue with the fact that we ignore what exists in linguistic terms, or at least it is confused. It is more than a vagina, in anatomical terms the vagina is actually just one part. As a society the misnomer of “vagina” to label our lady bits is incorrectly used as oppose to vulva!!! The trouble is that even great Feminist Works such as “The Vagina Monologues” or “The Great Wall of Vagina” perpetuate the misuse of the word.
The overall structure is much more than the limited concept (it’s incredible really that there is so much procreation with such limited understanding… or maybe not!!! Perhaps it is this lack of understanding that creates a sense of routine in the sexual arena…)- there’s the visible tip of the clitoris; most of which is actually inside the body (science lesson there for you!!!), the labia, urethral opening where urine and ejaculation happen then the entry/exit point of the vagina!!
A quote I found whilst formulating this post is “But a vagina does not a vulva make!!!” and this made me chuckle because it is such a truth bomb. I want to keep this post as light hearted as possible because I do not want it to alienate people. Instead I would quite like it to educate a little, if not make the reader amused for all the right reasons. It is hard to get that balance between what is in my head and what will translate best on paper…or at least blog post. People have created this whole caricature of a Feminazi and all that “good stuff” that just perpetuates the myth of the hysteric woman.
Vagina in the media should always be replaced by the word vulva. The joyful aspect that is consistently ignored is the variety to be found. This takes me back to the documentary many years ago whereby there were pioneers teaching women to understand their own vulva. At the time it was a programme that I watched and thought “well that was different” but its impact maybe left a bigger impression on me than I may have imagined at the time.
The science perpetuated by Man, and I use this as man in basic terms- (a human with a penis) have collectively ignored vulva’s in the basic understanding of the human body because the clitoris and female orgasm are not necessary in the crudest and most basic definitions of human reproduction.
In political terms it speaks volumes that we refer to our lady bits as a vagina (politics of sex) because the vagina is the way that the male enters the woman!!! As always, there are connotations of the focus of male pleasure. A whole other topic of course is the “elusive” female orgasm. Does it not exist because it is just not as simple?!!
The ideas of the body are censored by language… “Language is connected to our perception of the world. What we can’t name we can’t think about…” ~ Dr Mithu Sanyal author of VULVA: A cultural history of the vulva. Dr Harriet Lerner, a clinical psychologist refers to this as a ‘psychic genital mutilation’.
Is it not concerning that Labiaplasty is one of the fastest growing cosmetic surgeries in the U.K. and USA?!! How are we a more developed country when young women of sixteen years of age are even contemplating the mutilation of their own genital said for “aesthetic purposes”?!
FMG (or Female genital mutilation) is a barbaric ritual of removing part or all of the external genitalia frequently practised in African countries. The World Health Organisation defines it as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of external female genitalia, or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons” so correct me if I am wrong, but we are reframing this mutilation as surgery in the West?!! It blows my mind!!!
All in all the word vulva may be uncomfortable if it’s too clinical. There are plenty of other descriptive words for it if that just won’t do. My particular favourite being Yoni. I am not one of these people that can reclaim the vulva by calling it the cunt, but I don’t see that it should be the most offensive word in the English Language. Oh yes she did…. she dropped the C-Bomb!!!
Well I did wait until the end of my post so as for my point that I have so eloquently laboured. Basically the misuse of the word vagina continues the utter “myth” of Female Sexuality and it only becomes dangerous when mysticism is veiled as ignorance or worse still censorship!!!
If I can’t talk about the vulva having pushed out two babies now… when can I? It is important to know and respect our lady bits.
I hope this post wasn’t too shocking for our very odd cultural sensibilities where we can quite happily consume porn on the daily but not recognise the true value and biological standing of the vulva.
Did this post make you chuckle? Have you taken the time recently to recognise your own vulva? Don’t panic… I won’t be going full Feminist voice in this blog. The main point to distill is that we should know our bodies and ourselves and put the power back in our pants!!!