by Bradders: Nasty Woman
Vagina. Vulva. Pussy. Cunt. Minge. Chamber of Secrets. Foof…
Call it what you will (except “kebab” – just don’t), but the vag is having something of a renaissance in recent years. “Pussy grabs back!” sees our lady-parts rendered political. “Vagina: A New Biography” by Naomi Wolf reframes how we understand the vagina from a scientific and historical perspective. And my Instagram feed is bursting with body-positive accounts such as Club Clitoris and Vagina Cult, which celebrate female genitalia and encouraging me to buy “Eat Pussy, it’s Vegan!” t-shirts.
I love having an empowered, weaponised vagina!
And it’s beautiful. I love having an empowered, weaponised vagina! I love having something in my pants that genuinely strikes fear into the hearts of some. And I love seeing what other women’s vulvas actually look like, with their diverse colours and their hair and their full, non-symmetrical lips and their clits of varying sizes. It’s beautiful.
It’s also necessary. As Everyday Feminism puts it, “vaginas are the objects of a cultural hate-fest”. We are taught from very early on that vaginas are dirty, ugly, offensive, passive, gross, odorous, and most importantly, for the pleasure of our (presumed) male partners. The mind boggles at how utterly illogical and incongruous these properties are. Your vagina is disgusting! It smells like fish! Ew! Why are your lips hanging out? Is that BLOOD?! Gross! But simultaneously: I’m going to derive pleasure from putting my penis inside the very thing I’m telling you is repulsive, so you’d better make sure it’s clean and shaved and wet for me! And if I say no? YOU’RE A CUNT!
And for every body-positive depiction of a vagina you’ll see on the internet, there will be at least three telling you that you need surgery, that you need to douche or steam it (really, Gwyneth?), or that you shouldn’t be allowed to say the word at all.
To say that you are disgusted by the vagina is to say that you are disgusted by the woman
Because this isn’t just about vaginas. This is about womanhood in general.
To say that you are disgusted by the vagina is to say that you are disgusted by the woman. The vagina, in all its fleshy, messy, sensual glory, becomes a proxy for female power and independence, and there are those who are frightened by this. I view the pressuring of women into labiaplasty (the monetised, Western equivalent of FGM) because their vulvas don’t fit into a particular aesthetic as analogous to the silencing of women who speak up when their reproductive rights are threatened. In both cases, women are being told that they do not fit the mould set for them by the patriarchy, and they must change, or face the consequences.
Worst of all, the myth that the vagina is ugly and gross is easy to buy into and internalise. You cannot shame someone who refuses to be shamed, but women are primed for guilt on a biblical scale, and so selling the “your sex organs are icky” package to us is piss-easy. You only have to hear that you have something gross in your knickers a few times before you start to believe it, and from there it’s a slippery slope from believing it, to feeling it, to wholly internalising it and full-on hating yourself. Boom. Job done. The patriarchy don’t have to force us into our little moulds anymore – we’re entirely self-policing! It’s genius!
So what do we do about this?
Respect the vagina
My answer, trite as it may be, is to love your vagina. Become a part of the vaginal renaissance! Be revolutionary in your self-love!
Do your research. Learn about the incredible anatomy that enables us to receive incredible pleasure and even create life. LIFE!
Explore your vagina – get familiar with your unique look, feel, taste, and smell. Learn what works for you when it comes to pleasure, because if you don’t know how to turn yourself on, then how the hell do you expect someone else to?
Own the word “cunt”. To many it’s the mother of all insults: the most offensive term in the dictionary. So make it yours. Enjoy it. Revel in the mouth-feel and the sound of it. Say it with me, “C-U-N-T!”
Respect the vagina. Whether you own one or not, whether you are sexually attracted to the owners of them or not, the chances are you came out of one. So be nice. Respect the vagina, and refuse to participate in shame. Because trust me…