I watched The Vagina Monologues on TV a couple of days ago. I wasn't at all sure what to expect but was surprised by just how funny, tragic and eye opening it was as well as being a wonderful celebration of women and their genitals. I was incredibly impressed by Eve Ensler, the author and performer of the monologues that are based on interviews conducted with a broad spectrum of women and shone with truth and brutal honesty.
Eve Ensler was clearly very comfortable with the idea and the language of vaginas. Sadly, the same can not be said for all women. I still find it shocking that some women are reluctant to look at their most intimate of places and be familiar with all that it is.
After watching The Vagina Monologues and the feminine empowerment I felt as a result, I watched Botched Bodies - a documentary about plastic surgery disasters. One of the cases highlighted was that of a young woman seduced by the glamour of a 'designer vagina'. She was unhappy with the way she looked 'down there' reporting that one piece of skin hung lower than the rest. The labiaplasty to correct the problem and make her look 'neat and pretty' actually resulted in the complete removal of the labia minora. Instead of neat and pretty - she looked mutilated. A second surgery involved harvesting fat cells and injecting them into the labia majora to give a fuller look. Perhaps she should have learned her lesson after the first time because this left her with a hideous oversized lumpy mess where once had been an albeit slightly assymetric, perfectly normal vagina.
Much of my early sex education as a child came from sneaking looks at Electric Blue, a soft porn video that my parents owned. The video included footage of a catastrophic multiple car crash at the start of something like the Indianapolis 500 from sometime in the 70s. My dad insisted that this was the only reason he had the video! It also included an adult cartoon called Snow White and the Seven Perverts. Snow White was portayed as a long legged, buxom, sexually promiscuous young thing with genitals animated to give them a bizarre life and personality of their own. The look of the poor woman in the Botched Bodies documentary post surgery reminded me of this animation.
Women (and their vaginas) are amazingly varied. We should try to embrace our uniqueness and delight in who we are rather than wanting to conform to an unrealistic, unattainable perfection defined by a faceless 'society'. The multi million pound cosmetic surgery industry could never allow this to happen.
I have no problem with my own vagina in terms of form or function. It has served me well both sexually (long may this continue) and through childbirth (six times). I had an episiotomy with my first labour and was fortunate enough to be sewn up by a very conscientious midwife who was new to the procedure and wanted to impress her superiors. She did impress. I, with legs in stirrups, laid bare and exposed, was admired - or rather my very neat suturing was admired. Childbirth has the ability to give you a temporary shamelessness which made this seem quite normal. I once knew a woman, who after a particularly difficult birth, was not given the same meticulous precision work as I benefitted from. She complained that she was left with something resembling a cornish pasty. It was not good for her self esteem or her relationship with her husband.
I do believe that how we feel about ourselves in the context of the secret place between our legs can be key to how accepting we are of ourselves as a whole person.
Eve Ensler asks all the women she interviews the following two questions:
1. What would your vagina wear?
2. In two words, what would your vagina say?
I never find those sort of 'outside the box thinking' questions very easy to answer but I gave it some thought and the overriding image that came to my mind was "draped in garlands of flowers" and "Love and Peace" To accommodate the less glamorous aspect of lady parts, I suppose this could be "Love and Piss". Let's keep it real!