On the Net: The Vagina Dialogue.

Last week I had my first post published on MamaMia, website of my idol, Mia Freedman. You can now read the article below.

The Perfect Vagina (which you can watch here) is a documentary that deals with the rising dissatisfaction women have with their vajayjays and the quest for genital perfection in the form of labiaplasty, a cosmetic surgical procedure that changes the size and shape of the labia minora. In it, UK television presenter and actress Lisa Rogers encounters Rosie, a young woman who hates her vulva and is scheduled for a labiaplasty. She wants the surgery because her sister and her male friends never cease to make fun of what they—and she—believe to be her overextended inner labia.

Call me old fashioned, but I think men should be falling over themselves to get with a naked woman who wants to get with them, not scrutinising her body. As Rogers wishes she’d said to a man she interviews who prefers a “tucked in” ladygarden, “why don’t you get your cock out, then?”

While the other men Rogers asks about their vaginal preferences claim to have none, I think she’s looking to the wrong men. In my experience, Gen X guys, whom the doco seemed to focus on, are accepting of women in all their glory, flaws and all. Gen Y guys? Not so much.

One of my friends, 25-year-old Tom* subscribed to the strangely common and hugely incorrect male perception that the larger a woman’s flaps, the sluttier she is! If ever there was an argument to stop airbrushing the life out of vulvas, so to speak, in men’s magazines this is it.

Journalist Kristen Drysdale debunks Tom’s theory in her moving exposé on labiaplasty for ABC’s Hungry Beast:

“[The size of a woman’s labia] has nothing to do with how much sex they’ve had, their state of arousal or whether they’ve borne children (although, so what if it was?). It’s simply the way they are built.”

Mia Freedman has been a vocal champion of the importance of seeing real ladybits, and she writes:

“… Since women don’t have a non-sexual place to compare bits with other women (unlike men who see other penises all the time at urinals), the only place any of us are likely to see vaginas that don’t belong to us is in men’s magazines.”

On the other hand, women’s magazines aren’t exactly portraying a realistic depiction of the vulva, either: because they’re not allowed. Classification laws in Australia require pictorial representations of female genitalia to be “healed to a single crease”, a phrase from which Drysdale derives the title for her Hungry Beast piece.

God forbid the actual labia minora and majora were featured in the sealed section of Cosmo and happened to fall into the grubby mitts of children—who have a right to see what normal bodies look like and that the body of their mother and/or father aren’t abnormal compared to those in the media—or men, for the purposes of arousal. If men are getting off on pictures of real pussies it can only be beneficial to the plight of real women, who haven’t had plastic surgery, labiaplasty or otherwise deviate from the Classification Board-sanctioned “norm”.

While we wait for the laws to catch up with us in the 21st century, things like vaginal casts (as featured in The Perfect Vagina and The Great Wall of Vagina exhibition), walking around naked and employing the hand mirror can only be beneficial in our quest to body acceptance.

Before I came to accept and love my body the way I do today, I never really saw it other than getting in and out of the shower. Now I take the opportunity to walk around naked whenever I can (and whenever the housemate is out!). Knowing what your body—and yes, your genitalia—looks like in all its glory makes it all the more familiar when it comes time to step into that bikini or get naked with someone.

Controversially, I also think waxing can aid in this. I’ve been shaving and waxing since my mid teens, and I don’t think it has done me any harm. If anything, it’s helped me to be more in tune with my labia and the way it looks.

But I grew up in the nineties, just before internet porn became mainstream and the Brazilian wax reigned supreme. My primary and high school sex education consisted of how to put a condom on a banana and defining the wet dream as opposed to body variance and acceptance.

There may be some hope yet: a recent New York Times article profiled Al Vernacchio, an American high school English and sexuality teacher, who advocates for more realistic sex education in school focusing on pleasure, sexting, consent and sexual orientation, showed the importance of education on this matter. Now there’s a novel idea.

But let’s start it in primary school and in the home if it means young people will grow up with a healthier, more realistic perception of what people—not these airbrushed Victoria’s Secret Angels in centrefolds—actually look like naked. Sort of like Where Did I Come From?; version 2.0.

*Names have been changed.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] The Perfect Vagina. Is There Such a Thing?

[MamaMia] Labiaplasty & Censorship: Is There a Link?

[MamaMia] Now Our Vaginas Are Being Photoshopped. Great.

[MamaMia] Genital Surgery. Two Words You Don’t Want to Hear in the Same Sentence.

[MamaMia] The Great Wall of Vagina.

[Top Documentary Films] The Perfect Vagina.

[Hungry Beast] Healing It to a Single Crease.

[New York Times] Teaching Good Sex.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Dreams do come true! I now have my first piece up on MamaMia about labiaplasty and “designer vaginas”. Go check it out! Alternatively, you can read it here next week.

Feminist sites seem to be raving about the above video for Sauza Blue Tequila, in which a shirtless fireman with a kitten generalises the shit out of what women like and want. It makes me want to gag (the video, not the tequila!). So sexist. [Jezebel, MamaMia]

Wikipedia was seeking comment from users as to what pro- and anti-choice groups should be called on their site (you can see the results and arguments here). What do you think? What would you like the camp you belong to to be called? [Jezebel]

Why do Arab states hate women?:

“Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt—including my mother and all but one of her six sisters—have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating ‘virginity tests’ merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband ‘with good intentions’ no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are ‘good intentions’? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is ‘not severe’ or ‘directed at the face.’ What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse.” [Foreign Policy]

Hipster racism: but I was a racist before it was cool! [Jezebel]

Enough with the dead artist hologram craze. [Jezebel]

This Pulitzer prize-winning article by Wesley Morris examines why the Fast & the Furious franchise is so racially important:

“… The most progressive force in Hollywood today is the Fast and Furious movies. They’re loud, ludicrous, and visually incoherent. They’re also the last bunch of movies you’d expect to see in the same sentence as ‘incredibly important.’ But they are—if only because they feature race as a fact of life as opposed to a social problem or an occasion for self-congratulation… “… [U]nlike most movies that feature actors of different races, the mixing is neither superficial nor topical. It has been increasingly thorough as the series goes on—and mostly unacknowledged. That this should seem so strange, so rare, merely underscores how far Hollywood has drifted from the rest of culture.” [Boston.com]

Cheerleading in Australia: yay or nay? [MamaMia]

Check out the latest Twitter hashtag trend: #ReplaceBandNamesWithRape. Actually, don’t. [Twitter, Jezebel]

The curse of soapie sex. [TheVine]

Image via Our Stage.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Is pop music turning into porn? [MamaMia]

Sex, lies, and DSK. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Is Lady Gaga “a feminist icon, or just a slightly offbeat sex object?”:

“In some ways, Gaga’s entire persona seems to question what’s expected of women. It’s there in the internal contradiction of her name: ‘Lady’ with its suggestions of gentility, sweetness, high breeding; ‘Gaga’ with its intimations of infantility, madness, antic spirit. She has often been compared with a drag queen and, in many ways, this seems apt. Part of the brilliance and beauty of drag, of course, is that it can potentially expose sex roles—most often femininity—as a performance. A drag queen in enormous false eyelashes, teetering heels, a tight dress, heavy makeup, a voluminous wig, talon-like nails, is mimicking a woman, while underlining that what’s expected of women is in no way natural. With her increasingly bizarre getups, Gaga does the same.” [Queerty]

In defence of young adult fiction. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The underlying lesbianism in the BFF relationship. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

One night with Quentin Tarantino. Fascinating, if not 100% verified. [Gawker]

Would you ever go through with labiaplasty? [MamaMia]

Michele Bachmann: “the candidate Sarah Palin was supposed to be.” Scary! [Rolling Stone]

16 & Pregnant as public service announcement. [Slate]

In celebration of gay marriage being approved in New York, check this little ditty out above. [Dear Blank Please Blank]

Images via Loopy Comments, Girls Are Made from Pepsi, Dear Blank Please Blank.