I've been thinking for a while about writing on this topic, but bedroomdancer spurred me on with her post about vaginas.
Many years ago, to cut a long story short, I organised my first lesbian love session with a friend of mine.
On the way to her house I stopped in a bar for some dutch courage. I got talking to a man there. He asked if the earring I wore (one of those double female symbol ones) meant I was a lesbian. So I boldly said yes.
Then a woman at the bar piped up, "We don't like lesbians in here, because they're fanny lickers, and we don't like fanny lickers here." (For all you American readers, in Australia fanny means vagina).
I was astounded. What kind of woman doesn't like fanny lickers? What kind of woman feels so bad about her own vagina that she would hate anyone who wanted to lick it?
Later that night, with my head buried between a woman's legs for the first time, I sure as hell wasn't thinking about that woman at the bar. I was thinking how sweet and musky my lover's scent was. How beautifully wet she was. How I parted her hair to find the jewell it hid. How she bucked umder my tongue....
But I thought of that woman in the bar often since.
There used to be a magazine over here called Australian Women's Forum. Because Forum wasn't sold under plastic covers, censorship laws meant they could not show an erect penis, or a woman's inner lips.
Forum decided to run an article about labiaplasty. They said that many women have never seen a vagina other than their own. So they go to the newsagent and flip through the sexy mags. But since all the hard-core porn is in plastic covers, all they would see is air-brushed vaginas with no inner lips. Then they would feel deformed because their inner lips poke out a bit, and they would go to the plastic surgeon to get them chopped off, to look 'normal'.
Any plastic surgeon with ethics would send them home with some hard core porn to get a better idea of what is normal.
Some women do have lips that protrude so much they are uncomfortable. But most women who go for labiaplasty just think their vaginas look wrong.
Forum tried to show medical before and after pictures of labiaplasty. The censorship board wouldn't let them, perpetuating the very thing that the article was written to denounce.
Forum gave up. The censorship rules are not set in stone. It's the personal opinion of whoever is working that day that counts, and the perception of the magazine. Cleo could write penis or orgasm on the cover; Forum wasn't allowed. Everytime they submitted a magazine to the board, they had to pay. If it didn't pass, they had to pay again to submit it again, and pay again until it passed. With no uniform laws, they never knew what would pass and what wouldn't. The article on labiaplasty was the final straw, and the magazine folded. They just weren't able to be the informative magazine they wanted to be. It was a great loss to horny women in Australia.
The board thinks that women's vaginas are offensive. That offends me so much. How dare they think my body is offensive? Watching MTV, they blanked out the word clitoris. That offends me. Clitoris is a medical term for a part of my body. How dare they say my body is offensive!
No wonder women like that one in the bar exist. There is nothing in our culture that tells them their body is beautiful, is normal. Nothing that celebrates our bodies, nothing that says they are OK how they are.
Hooray for plays like the Vagina Monologues! And books like Cunt. At least some women are trying to reclaim their vaginas.