Sometimes I read something so thoroughly puzzling that I need to take a break, have a sandwich, and return to it later. Such a piece was birthed into the media jungle of the Interwebz today, ladies, and I offer it to you now. Have a sandwich at the ready for the pondering period. I think you’ll need it.
Marie Claire, in an article called “The Vagina Dialogues” by Faye Penn, heralded this moment in history as the time when “vaginas have never had it so good.” But. Wait. What?
Citing the proliferation of people saying vagina on the boob tube, “candy-colored” sex shops, and crystal vadge embellishments as proof, “Dialogues” maintains that the vagina is having a veritable coming out ball. The article seems to attribute the stripping of shame with the stripping (literally) of hair from our nether-regions, as if going bare somehow means we’re prouder of our ladybits. Okay, Kim Kardashian has been getting bikini waxes since she was 12, but we’re not all Kardashians, MC.
The piece hits its fever pitch when it likens the vagina to “a new divorcée or a woman who’s lost a life-changing amount of weight,” i.e. a woman “renegotiating her identity and finding new ways to play up her assets.” Vaginas are awesome, MC. They’ve been awesome since before waxing was de rigueur, since before putting Swarovski crystals on your mons was societally acceptable, since before Dr. Meredith Grey uttered the word “vajayjay” on Grey’s Anatomy. The problematic article addresses vaginoplasty, albeit with little attention paid, and it never really settles the score on whether or not thinking your vagina is ugly is okay. (Hint: It’s not.)
Perhaps the most telling evidence that the vagina has still not hit its heyday, though, comes from the article itself. Citing a Summer’s Eve survey completed last year, the author explains that nearly 70 percent of women “were unable to identify the basic parts of their vaginas” and 60 percent couldn’t even muster up the courage to say vagina out loud. If over half the female population is afraid to even mutter the word, how can we be proclaiming that vaginas “have never had it so good?”
The article drips with references to child sexualization, something the author calls “disturbing” but does little to unpack. Rather, she continues the infantile sexualization, referencing playdates for our vaginas, maybe at “cheerful shops whose sherbet- and candy-colored schemes befit a kid’s room.” Eesh.
For an antidote to Marie Claire (and everyone else) not really telling you your vagina is normal and beautiful and okay how it is, check out the very NSFW Tumblr Beautiful Labia, which shows women how different one vulva can be from the next and how all kinds are okay.
For now at least, let’s practice saying it aloud together: va-gi-na.
Image source jankytshirts.com