8/21/2008

Le vagin

I was very tired and pissed off whilst at work yesterday, as Twitterites were sadly aware due to my excessive rambling about how very full of rage and hatred I was. As a quick aside, I used to be a reluctant Twitterer, now I'm all over it like I was with Facebook those two weeks eight months ago. I didn't much see the point in Twitter at first, as brevity is no strong suit of mine and those bastards limit you to 140 characters. What sort of effect can be made given such narrow parameters to work with? I've come round now though. Twitter allowed me to type "motherfucker" repeatedly during my homicidal period yesterday, and I would not have had the opportunity to vent in this manner any other way. Twitter also graciously allowed me to twit about the hilarity last week when my sanitary product failed and blood seeped into the front of my trousers. At work. Without me noticing. For over an hour. This is what happens when you don't have a period for 4 months, you forget where the tampon actually goes. I'm kidding. Stop blanching.

Where was I? Oh yes, labia. Oh wait, I hadn't brought that up yet. Anyway, this is why I was tired and therefore a miserable cow yesterday - because of labia. Isn't this always the way? I started to watch this programme and just couldn't stop watching, despite the intensely graphic nature of some of the footage. I can handle seeing random ladies' vaginas, but I perhaps should have looked away during the close up of the motherfucking LABIOPLASTY. Those with sensitive dispositions should read no further. I'm serious. What I'm going to say will make you grab your crotch and wretch. I warned you. Ok - if one has large lips they want made smaller, they just slice those bastards off. Slice. As in, taking the scalpel, starting at the top, and quickly sever the extra skin. One quick flick of the wrist, and you are large labia-free. The doctor in this programme went so far as to wave the separated chunk of skin in the air in the direction of the patient, laughing and saying, "Look! It just shrivels away once you cut it off!" The surgeon was male, you won't be surprised to learn.

The gist of the programme was that vaginal alteration isn't the fun and games you thought it would be. No, you can't have your labioplasty during your lunch break and then engage in a fast-paced game of squash immediately after the procedure. The presenter wanted women to learn to love their labia, which, in some cases, meant going to a retreat, listening to nature sounds and showing your vagina to other women so they could talk you off the surgical ledge. The women sat in a small circle, coaxing each other to lift up skirts and bear the beast, and stories of loving and hating vaginas were exchanged. Oddly enough, though these women were being as personal as one could possibly be, words like "flower" and "nunie" (noo-nee) were used. Here you are, splaying your legs and putting it all out there, yet it's still a place for euphemistic exchange. Bizarre.

I support any woman's desire to improve her self-esteem, even if it means surgery. However, I feel like an outsider on this issue because I have never, even after childbirth, worried about the size of my labia. I accept that the vagina is a many varied creature, some are this way, some are that way. I've never heard of men gossiping about the vagina's appearance. They know that women have a vagina, but men aren't often renowned for their powers of observation. It seems like such an odd concept to me to be so fixated on your vagina's appearance that you are willing to undergo such a painful procedure.

Does anyone care to enlighten me? Is this something you have thought of, or are you labia ambivalent? The amount of vaginal plastic surgery has risen exponentially in the past years, so obviously there are a lot of women out there who are bothered by it. I'm genuinely interested in hearing your views - anonymously if you don't want to chat labia under your real name.

I would also like to mention that I was on babelfish translating "the vagina" for the title of this post, and I went with French because it is, as always, so lovely sounding. German, on the other hand, was quite the opposite - "die vagina". Once again, linguistically sticking to character. So - thoughts on die vagina please!

21 comments:

Helen said...

OK, I watched that programme too. And here's the thing - I love my hooch. Not as in "I am woman hear me roar" or "let's all straddle a handheld mirror and sing Kumbaya to my vagina" kind of way. I think mine is distinct and characteristic and I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm funny shaped. I can pick me out of a line-up, which I could do based on that artist's plaster-cast sculptures (which, let's be real, were just an excuse to get up to neatly shaved fannies, really.)

Even though my kids came out the sunroof, I wouldn't go for labiaplasty even though my bits aren't really like other women's (no I don't have a penis. Just to be clear here). I've been under the knife for something else, I'm all for plastic surgery if it helps you feel better in your skin. But my fanny? Hands off, scalpel boy.

(And I'm going to be saying "off the surgical ledge" for a while. Thanks for that.)

statia said...

Actually, if you want to talk about vaginaplasty, I'm kind of your girl. Sort of.

OvaGirl said...

You know I think they're a bit like noses, they come in all shapes and sizes and they drip. Except wait we don't push out babies through our noses. Oh and also you can't pick balls of snot out of your vagina. Not usually anyway. This is a crap analogy so i'll stop here. I think if people feel very distressed about their flappy bits and really believe that surgery will make them feel better then I guess sure. But it's a much cheaper and less painful option to just accept le vagin the way it is.

Is that not wierd and French that the vagina is treated like a male ie le rather than la

Jenn said...

I think it's up there with anal bleaching.

Off to see if my labia are the same size...

A said...

I apparently also have a very distinct appearance. One that an ex (I can't come up with one good reason on God's green earth why I even wasted my time with him) had the gall to tell me that I should change. I have a very rounded mons. He told me that I should try to lose weight so that it would be smaller. Even during a bout with an eating disorder in high school, it was the same. I guess my vag is just "curvy." heh. At that moment, I realized that if any man was going to be complaining about me, he didn't deserve to ever see it again.

I told my friend Sarah about it, and we started laughing about how they're all different, and we started in on a "puss" version of the shrimp scene in Forest Gump. From that moment on, anytime I saw a shrimp it became synonymous with vagina to me.

So yeah. Apparently I have a fat puss. My husband definitely doesn't seem to mind.

wheelsonthebus said...

OMG. Never heard of such a thing.

Rachel said...

Why on earth would one be upset at the way her labia look? And what (straight) man on earth, when presented with a vagina, goes "Ew, you should get that fixed?" Most dudes are all "YAY! GIMME!"

I don't get the low-vaginal-esteem thing AT ALL. I would even go so far as to say that a woman who is worried about the appearance of her labia has faaaaaaaaaaar more serious issues.

Yes, I'm totally judging. It's why I exist, after all.

If I can afford surgical alteration to a part of my body, my ass is the first thing I will fix. The rest of me? Just fine, thanks.

Aunt Becky said...

I'm really uninterested in the state of my labia. Is that weird?

May said...

Wow. Just... wow. I never in all my years ever even considered such a thing. (shudder)

The best part, though, is that my husband just wandered by and I asked him if he'd ever heard if such a thing and he sighed in a resigned fashion and said, "Sadly, I have."

Major Bedhead said...

Perhaps this makes me weird or repressed or something, but I've never even looked at my labia. So, yeah, no interest in fixing what I've never seen.

Besides, the thought of scalpels being voluntarily used in that whole area makes my butt pucker.

hairyfarmerfamily said...

Jenn - anal bleaching?! Are we talking hair here, or direct application to the ring?!?

Hubby watched this program whilst I blogged in the next room, but I feel I got the essence and gist as he kept a running commentary-yell of the highlights going. Lucky we have no close neighbours: they would doubtless have assumed our dirty sex talk was horrifying.

Ms. Pants said...

Viva Fat Pussy!!!

nutsinmay said...

Did not watch. Whole idea makes own tiddly bits retreat into body like terrified snail.

I grew up, lucky me, under the impression that labia were SUPPOSED to be a little... frilly and uneven. And in all different shades and shapes and sizes and angles. Just like gentlemen's bits are. It never occured to me ever that anyone could look at my undercarriage and be surprised or disenchanted with the view. I am a very lucky girl, I suppose. And in any case, any man I ever met has always given the impression that he's so very pleased to see IT at all he wouldn't care if the flippy-flaps were ten inches long and flashing neon lights like a disco butterfly. So.

In any case, these things were Not Talked About at the boarding school I was abandoned at by my callous upper-class folks.

And then I went to university and met a woman who was so convinced the unevenness of her inner set was unbelievable and repulsive she would split up with young men just as it got to the bedding stage, leaving a trail of brusied hearts and scuffed male egos behind her. I wish now I'd convinved her to let me look, so I could reassure it all looked normal, but at 19 I was very sure that'd lay me open (HAH! Hahahah!) to misinterpretation and never did. I wonder if she ever did get over it, or went for snipping instead. I hope with all my heart she got over it. Because, URGH.

Irene said...

I wonder who we change our labia for? If it is to please a member of the opposite sex, I would have my doubts about the whole operation. If, however, they are grotesquely large, I can see a woman wanting to do it.

I have been told that mine are very cute and small, so I guess I got lucky, but I have never seen another woman's vagina, so I have no way of knowing if this is true.

I don't feel like looking at or being looked at by another woman. I also don't want to sing 'We shall overcome.'

So far my vagina has served its purpose well. It has had a lot of sex and it gave birth to two children. I am getting ready to retire it. It's been enough for now.

ms.bri said...

I'm with Becky. Supremely uninterested. But I actually don't care if others feel the need to cut theirs up, either. Strange, since I think botox and face lifts are HORRIBLE inventions that destroy feminism. Maybe because they are so out there in front. Whereas if you have low vaginal self-esteem, well, maybe you should take care of that as it sounds very personal.

Tash said...

Not only am I supremely uninterested in both Aunt Becky's and Ms. Bri's labias (labiae?), but mine too. Sounds like one of those things you'd never ever think of doing until you hear someone else is. I'm sure there's a clever simile here like wearing Ugg boots in summer, but I'm too tired.

Anonymous said...

Bizarre.

Unless these poor women have studied a lot of porn mags, how do they know theirs is different to any other?

For me it is about how it feels, and it would have to look pretty out there before i'd consider slicing into it. OUch!

sepi

Geohde said...

Just ouch.

It's not something I've ever given five minutes thought to- but google sends a lot of people to my blog with such concerns- for some reason. SO I guess it matters more to some than others.

ANd for the record- I agree- I don't think men notice anything once they think they're in proximity to female genitalia they might get imminent access to. :)

J

rockmama said...

Don't most guys just want to get action so much that they're not going to quibble over the appearance of said ladyplace?

PatrickOstpete said...

i agree with rockmama. I am a guy and am more concerned with getting to know you and maybe sharing some intimate pleasures, not whether I should re design your meat curtains. Also agree with labies here that state if you're ova ly concerned about the state of yer lower lips, you've got much bigger problems that yer avoiding. I personally prefer pleasure from variety of upper lips. Heading to Florida anytime soon ???

Vacant Uterus said...

It never, EVER occured to me to wonder if my labia was pretty enough FOR FUCK'S SAKE!

Ok, sorry for the swear. But this puts me so much in mind of genital mutilation which millions of girls unwillingly undergo because of a dangerously similar mindset. It just makes me wonder if genital mutilation is making it's way westward disguised as something else. And if the practice of genital mutilation will become acceptable here in a sort of underground way if fathers bring in their daughters and tell them to say that they WANT a labioplasty when in reality said daughters have been strongarmed. We were born with all our flippy bits for a reason!

Plus, I agree with the above commenter who said that most straight men, when presented with labia of any sort, just say "YAY! GIMME!" So, so true. This whole thing just made me shudder. I'm keeping my lady parts, thankyouverymuch.