21 January 2011

An insightful documentary

This post contains subject matter that may offend some readers

I watched a documentary titled The Perfect Vagina after my younger sister V mentioned it. The documentary discusses how some women - even teens - are getting surgery to make the labia smaller. For reference, the labia is the inside set of lips of a lady's bits. Now, before V mentioned this I'd heard about it being done on a show called Vanity Insanity. The woman featured had birthed three children and didn't like how her labia now hung down farther than she liked. The concept didn't faze me much, I thought of it like a tummy tuck or removing the fat pad above the eye. But something about Perfect Vagina stopped me in my tracks. I'd never considered having my labia sliced off as a cosmetic procedure, just as a restoration procedure. And before viewing that episode I'd never considered it as a potential surgery at all.

Perfect Vagina featured women as young as 16 getting it done so they can look like other girls. Well...how many women have looked at another woman's bits? How do they know what 'normal' is? Then it struck me. The Internet is showing them lots of private parts. As I am not a connoisseur of Internet porn and haven't really viewed all that much of it, I asked S why teens would think that the 'tucked in' look was normal. With such a wide selection of porn available, surely many different vaginas would be featured, right? Well, not really, he said. The most featured would be the favorite or preferred look. Like shaved vaginas right now or hairy ones of the '70s. Ok, so the tucked in look is preferred right now I guess.

What also occurred to me is that most little girls labias are more tucked in as they aren't mature yet. Puberty does many interesting things to lady bits, including changing the labia to be larger, droopier, or more wrinkled. Like everywhere else on a girl's body, age takes away the layer of collagen or fat that is present until puberty. So I wonder, is it true that the plethora of porn at your fingertips has made women feel insecure about their parts, or were women always insecure about them? I have never discussed this particular body part with any female friend, ever, and not even with my sisters until very recently. Is this something women do now? How normal is it for teen girls to judge their attractiveness based on how closely their vagina resembles someone else's? I suppose this is the same issue with breast implants & reductions, tummy tucks and plastic surgery in general.

The other thing that struck me is that it's common knowledge that a man may feel insecure about his penis size or shape. I've never questioned this attitude and have been known to compensate for it in a man's behaviour sometimes, mostly assuming this is just what women did. Men are sensitive about it, so take care not to make fun of it in any way has been my motto. I've even told my boys on several occasions that every penis is shaped differently, is thicker or thinner, longer or shorter, has a different skin tone sometimes, circumcised or not, bends in one direction or not, and that all of that is normal. That whatever they have is just fine and on par with the rest of the world. Has this worked in raising their self esteem or made them more secure? I have no idea. That's for their lovers to find out. But that same discussion about vaginas wouldn't have occurred to me if I'd had a daughter.

Anyway, women joke about tiny penises on men not being enough for them and that girth counts more than length. When I was dating S we were in a group that met for wings once a week. One man enlightened me by saying it's not all about the man's penis. Some women are like a narrow road and some women are like a four lane highway. This was my introduction to the idea that maybe it's the woman that's too large for the man, not the man being too small for the woman. I hadn't given much thought to my own bits as they were simply...my bits. I haven't attached any value or worth onto how my nethers look or feel to a man. It's a part of me and if the man doesn't like it he can just go away. I really thought other women thought the same of their private parts. I had no idea that men were making women feel bad by laughing at their labias or making fun of them in general as this documentary seemed to indicate.

Perfect Vagina also gave some light to women learning to like their vaginas, which is a good thing. But I never really considered that it would be a necessary thing. Definitely some new pathways were forged in my newly expanded brain after this documentary.

1 comment:

The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

yeah, it's kind of weird that within society we have frank discussions with boys about their genitals, but women's genitals are off-limits.

my teenaged daughter's openness has been enlightening, although i have also always discussed the variations and stuff with her anyways. girls are different now. if she is with her group of friends and she needs an adjustment or has an itch, then she adjusts or scratches it... just like any boy would do. and her peers all refer to their genitals quite openly in mixed company.

girls now are rejecting some of the "preciousness", like their bodies must be kept secret and hidden from themselves and from each other.

BUT there are always going to be people who are insecure about how a body part looks, if they are made aware that it seems to be less "average" or "typical". and there will always be others who judge people's body parts based on such criteria. if we take away the idea that a body part is sacred, then we have to accept that it will be compared, evaluated and judged. it is a big change and hard to adjust to!!!