I was in the ladies’ bathroom at a club (I wonder how many epic stories begin like this?) attempting to rid my hands of ill-aimed piss (not my own), and vomit (admittedly, my own), when I heard two women talking about vaginas.
“At pole dancing the other day, I was attempting a dangly-legged move and happened to catch quite a shocking sight of my pussy in the mirror.” She tried to emulate the way the fleshy fronds of her labia peeped from her booty shorts by sticking her knuckles through a hole in the grungy curtain. “I had no idea there was such a vulgar-looking thing living between my legs,” she confessed.
“I’M A GYNAECOLOGIST, AND YOU’D BE SURPRISED TO KNOW HOW MANY HEALTHY WOMEN THINK THEY HAVE HIDEOUS VAGINAS.”
Her friend stood across from her, offering only a concerned streak in her brow and sympathetic tut-tuts to punctuate the sombre lamentation. “It’s so awkward to look at now,” continued Girl One, a shade of shame rouging her flawless, ebony complexion. I wondered how much she’d even looked at it before. “It’s probably the ugliest vagina in the world,” she concluded.
Without introducing myself, I joined the conversation – as is customary in ladies’ bathrooms. “How much porn do you watch?” I asked. “Well, none really,” Woman One replied interestedly. “Have you examined a multitude of vaginas?” I probed. “No,” she laughed, “I tried to get a tampon out of a friend once. She thought she sucked up the string, but it turned out she had just forgotten she’d taken it out already… She was drunk,” she added quickly, as if to assure me of her friend’s sanity.
Woman Two cocked her head, clearly feverish with intrigue as to what point my bewildering questions were leading. “Has anyone ever told you that your vagina is anything but perfect?” I asked. “I’ve yet to have a complaint… to my face,” she noted. “Then what references are you comparing her to?” I asked. She shrugged, realising that she’d come to the conclusion that her pussy was aesthetically undesirable in comparison to, well, nothing.
“I’m a gynaecologist, and you’d be surprised to know how many healthy women think they have hideous vaginas – regardless of their flawless functionality. It’s rather sad,” Woman Two confessed, a furtive glance darting between me and her vulnerable friend. Her eyes reflected memories of many a pantie-less patient sitting before her. I imagined each, complaining about the displeasing demeanour of their perfectly normal vaginas.
WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT SUBCONSCIOUSLY TEACHES US TO COMPARE EVERY VISIBLE ASPECT OF OURSELVES TO LARGELY UNOBTAINABLE STANDARDS OF BEAUTY.
It took me back to a time when I was a young teen, sitting on the bathroom floor examining my own labia. I thought them to be excessively long and fantasised about cutting them clean off. I figured it might hurt too much, so I considered saving for surgery instead. You see, I thought vaginas were supposed to be neat entry points, with little to nothing protruding beyond the hairless hole.
I learned, from the teen boys around me, that there were only two categories: Outies and Innies. Outies are supposedly vaginas with larger labia major/minor, and/or pubic mounds that are commonly accompanied by an ~undesirable bush~ of hair. Innies are supposedly the almost invisible-from-the-outside, porn-star-associated slits that were always hairless and preferred.
It was only at this moment, intercepting a conversation between two women I’d probably never see again, that the reality sank in: women are worried about the aesthetics of their vaginas. WAIT. WHAT? We’re worried about how our vaginas look?
I mean, shit. Not only do we live in a world that subconsciously teaches us to compare every visible aspect of ourselves to largely unobtainable standards of beauty. Not only do we live in a world that over-sexualises the female form, often diminishing our multifaceted existence to one sole purpose: pleasing heteronormative men (even if our sexual orientation doesn’t align with that).
Not only is menstruation still steeped in self-image destroying misconception. The type of misconceptions that see menstruating women in India shoo’d from the kitchens of their households, because it is widely believed that they can poison food just by being in its presence. The type of misconceptions that see teen girls in South Africa miss a week of school, because they believe if they sit next to a boy, their blood flow will increase.
Not only are millions of women across the globe enduring period poverty, attempting to absorb their unavoidable flow with toilet paper, old clothes, leaves, and ash (yes, ash). Not only have women been made to feel they must pass tampons by means of secret handshake, for fear that our dick-donning counterparts might turn down their mouths in disgust.
Not only do many states in the US (along with many other countries across the globe) still tax sanitary-wear as a luxury good (ah, how ~luxurious~ it is to bleed from ones vagina) while the Pentagon spends billions on viagra for military personnel and co.
Not only are transwomen – like Dana Martin, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Muhlaysia Booker, and Michelle “Tamika” Washington – being violently killed for their gender choice – with little to no media coverage, might I add.
WE LIVE IN A PATRIARCHALLY OPPRESSIVE SOCIETY THAT IDOLISES THE SLIM, WHITE FORM AND PROMOTES THE SEXUAL COMMODIFICATION OF WOMEN.
Not only has the Trump Administration finalised a rule that allows medical practitioners to refuse treatment and services for “religious and moral reasons” – meaning they can choose to deny life-saving services to transpeople, homosexuals, and anyone else they feel is “morally unsound”. How ironic to allow a human being to suffer, and even die, in the name of ones morals.
Not only has Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule that would incur the roll back of anti-discrimination protections for transgender people and anyone who has had an abortion. Not only are many US women’s rights to have an abortion being challenged, or simply taken away altogether.
Never mind all of that. What women should really be expending emotional energy on, is whether our pussies are pretty enough? Let me tell you something: fuck that noise. If you’re having aesthetic concerns, concerns that have nothing to do with fixing functional issues, I want you to take a moment to unpack where those concerns may be stemming from.
We live in a patriarchally oppressive society that idolises the slim, white form, promotes the sexual commodification of women, and encourages body-shaming. A world where compact, nothing-to-’em vaginas with ‘neat’ labia are lauded as the only acceptable way a vagina can look.
A world where finding a robust sex education and information on the female orgasm/masturbation in traditional, and even contemporary schooling, syllabi is like finding a queer yeti. The main focus is on pregnancy and how not to become pregnart – as if that’s all they’re to be used for.
It’s no wonder so many women feel/have felt insecure about the aesthetics of their vaginas. I’m just out here wanting you to know that society’s squeamishness around discussing vaginas has probably warped your idea of your own: there is no certain way you perfect pussy should look.
And, despite labiaplasty (cosmetic vaginal surgery or ‘designer vagina’ surgery) becoming the world’s fastest growing cosmetic procedure, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is of the public opinion that cosmetic vaginal surgery should be approached with extreme caution, due to its risks and the lack of scientific data surrounding its efficacy and safety.
THERE IS LITERALLY NO CERTAIN WAY THAT YOUR ONE-OF-A-KIND PANTY PROTEA SHOULD LOOK.
If you’re so lucky to have a healthily functioning vagina/reproductive system, I want you to know that you have a superhero living between your legs. She performs incredible functions largely unattended; she controls your hormones, excretes discharge, menstruates, and balances the fuck out of good and bad bacteria, all while you go about your daily life. That’s amazing, believe it.
And, if you are someone who doesn’t hold such a privilege, you need to know that your vaginal/reproductive health issues DO NOT make you any less worthy of love, appreciation, and/or happiness. I’m so done with society defining an entire person by their body’s inability to do something. You are not your disability. You are a collective of indescribable magic, a wildly beautiful and incomprehensibly unique soul in human form.
Our vaginas do not exist for the aesthetic approval/physical pleasure of anyone. Vaginas, in all their wonderful shapes, sizes, and colours, are B E A UTIFUL. Let those who identify as men and have penises, clash swords about dick size. We really don’t need to fret ourselves with futile comparison, even more so than we’re already told we should. Our vaginas ~every single one of them~ are works of art.
There is literally no certain way that your one-of-a-kind Panty Protea should look. She is as unique as you are. Why not give yourself permission to love her, explore her, and most importantly, accept her? Big lips? You’re gorgeous. Tiny lips? Stunning. Dark lips? Yes, girl. Squirter? LFG! Need some lube always? That’s fucking A-okay, baby. Kind of pink? Kind of brown? Whatever she may be, she is yours.
And don’t even get me started on vaginal hygiene products. Since when did whomever you believe created you make your perfectly formed papaya so grubby that you need to buy Summer Garden smelling vaginal wash to keep it in check? FUCK THAT NOIIIISSSSE.
Your vagina is an epic, self-cleaning device and, unless prescribed by a medical professional, you don’t need any fucking capitalism-driven, bullshit-scented wash to “clean” your guava. Right now, she’s busy cleaning herself better than one of those unattended vacuum cleaners that Oprah used to give away at her live shows. All it takes is water, my girls. That’s it.
YOUR CHANCES OF ACHIEVING AN ORGASM WITH A PARTNER ARE FAR GREATER IF YOU KNOW THE CITADEL OF YOUR VAGINA WELL ENOUGH TO GIVE THEM A TOUR.
Your vagina is something to be bloody proud of. And, speaking of bloody proud: I know periods are not fun, but they’re nothing to be ashamed of. It’s kind of satisfying to know you can do anything a man can do, while shedding your uterine wall and navigating hormonal turmoil #NotAllThoseWhoBleedAreWomenDoe.
Look, I’m not saying you have to love having your period, or even like it. They’re fucking shit for most of us. But, they’re also a strong indication that our bodies are healthy and functioning as they should be. For some cishet women, the cometh of the flow is a heavenly sign that the good dick they’ve been getting hasn’t drastically altered their lives with unplanned pregnancy and/or single-parenting #TheRedRelief.
Not that there is anything wrong with either, Lord knows I only exist because of both #LoveYouMom. Stay protected though, the Rhythm Method ain’t shit.
No one should ever feel ashamed of having their period. Period. We need to talk about menstruation more, especially with people who don’t menstruate. The only way to rip off the unwarranted band-aid of shame is to talk about it. The better people understand the normalcy of periods, the sooner menstruating people won’t need to feel ashamed, miss school/work, or be taxed for sanitary wear.
My Panty Protea is the most important part of my body, after my brain. I mean, who needs a heart when you have a throbbing G-spot? Am I right? Your vagina is a wondrous pleasure dome. Don’t believe it? You’re most likely part of the 50-70% of cishet women (depending on the study) that don’t orgasm during sex.
Lesbians, however, orgasm a lot more. Studies suggest that reason being is because the duration of lesbian sexual encounters almost doubles that of heterosexual couples. More foreplay = Big ‘O’ Town. Let’s forget partners for a second though, may I suggest getting to know yourself first?
Besides the obvious benefits of being the Master of your own Orgasm Destiny, your chances of achieving an orgasm with a partner are far greater if you know the citadel of your vagina well enough to give someone else a tour. Boys are encouraged to smash their salami so often, they’ve basically lost palm skin by the age of sixteen.
Why can’t we get involved, get personal, get it oooon? Perhaps not as violently as that salami-smashing metaphor, but you know what I mean. Grab a mirror and dildo. Don’t be shy! To hell with gender norms, societal expectations and abrupt missionary, they sure as hell aren’t going to give you orgasms.
It’s time to reclaim what has always been yours. Love your Panty Protea. Love yourself. After all, you and every other creature on this planet only exist because of the wondrous miracle that is the vaginal fucking canal. Amen. ♥
Written by Cheri Morris
Catch more of Cheri's refreshing Sassyness on her blog It's Cuntroversial