I can’t remember a time when my friends and I weren’t in conversation about vaginas, hormones, penises and all that jazz.
We throw the “v” word and the “c” word around at all most all encounters over a glass of wine in the midst of roaring laughter and revelations.
However, through the conversations I’ve encountered with women outside of my immediate circle I’ve noticed that a number of young women are much less likely to find themselves inclined to talk about their sexual organs and sexual health.
Somewhere between misogyny and patriarchy we have created this vagina Narnia that deems lady parts as a mystical part of the body that is covered in flowers of which flows an endless supply of rainbows and fireworks. When in reality, the vagina is the muscular passageway that connects the vulva to the cervix. This “thing” we don’t want to talk about, comes in all different shapes and sizes.
Why is it that we see women’s bodies on our TVs, in movies, and all over the internet yet we seem to have a problem actually talking about them in real life?
For a long time anything that is related to women’s bodies has been responded to negatively. There is an internalised fear of discussing women’s sexuality and a male-dominated society has deliberately constructed the idea of femininity to keep men in control.
It was Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex who argued that women have historically been treated as inferior to men for three reasons. Firstly, society teaches women to fulfil a male’s needs and therefore exist in relation to men. Secondly, to follow external cues to seek validation of their worth.
Lastly, women have historically had far fewer rights and therefore less public influence.
Did you even know that it’s normal to have bacteria in your vagina? Did you know that even healthy bodies have a scent and it is actually a good thing because that scent is your pheromones?
But you wouldn’t know that because you aren’t bothered to discuss these things with your doctor, let alone your friends.
Another concerning aspect of this internalised fear concerns going to the gynaecologist. It seemed to me that the women who are afriad to talk about their vaginas were more afraid to go to a doctor about a sexual health issue than an older woman.
Visiting a gynaecologist is a pro-active approach for preventative care of which pap smears and annual exams are very important. According to some health practitioners advise, a woman’s first pap smear should be done within three years after first having sexual intercourse or by age 21. In all honesty, Pap smears are simple tests that can detect abnormal cells on the cervix. Wouldn’t you want to know if there was an abnormality in the “v” thing you carry around?
Whether you have body image issues, concerns about the way it looks and smells or anxiety about achieving orgasm, conversations about sexuality and sexual organs would be a beneficial social activity for all of us.
Surely if you can’t talk about vaginas, then how in the world are you going to take care of one responsibly? Maybe if we talked about the vagina a little more we wouldn’t be so scared of it. Maybe we would have more respect for it and we wouldn’t think it was so “icky and gross”.