Starting the Conversation, by Wrenna Robertson

Starting the Conversation, by Wrenna Robertson

Women are now more concerned than ever about the appearance of their genitals. The convergence of the trend toward shaving or otherwise removing pubic hair which leaves the vulva more visible and open to scrutiny, coupled with our society’s ubiquitous exposure to online pornography and the unrealistic ideals it creates, have led an increasing number of women to feel real anxiety about their own genitalia. Frequently this manifests as a lack of sexual self-confidence or diminished body self-image; for some women, the level of psychological distress is so severe that they undergo genital cosmetic surgery. Labiaplasty (reduction of the inner labia, most often for cosmetic purposes) is now a rapidly growing type of cosmetic surgery, with the potential to follow the same growth pattern as breast augmentation did in its early years.

 

Women have long felt extraordinary pressure to conform to societal ideals of beauty. Today, digital alteration of photographs is rampant, and now extends to the most sacred and private part of a women: her genitals. The labia minora (the inner lips of the vulva) are reduced, giving the vulva a “clamshell” or “Barbie Doll” appearance. As a result, viewing pornography may lead to a skewed understanding of the true diversity of the female anatomy. This is particularly insidious as most women do not regularly have the opportunity to view other women’s vulvas.

 

There are very few resource tools available for women to gain a true appreciation of genital diversity. This skewed understanding leads many women to feel that they are alone and abnormal, leading to embarrassment, anxiety, and reduced genital self-image and overall self-confidence. The awareness of such procedures as labiaplasty can serve to further heighten women’s belief that there is in fact a “normal”, and that surgery is a suitable remedy for “abnormal” genitalia. Further, the practice of genital cosmetic surgery serves to promote a single genital morphology as ideal, in effect pathologizing natural diversity.

 

Only recently have researchers begun to look at genital self-image as distinct from general self-image. Lowered genital self-image has been found to have very crucial potential health impacts. Women who are uncomfortable with the appearance of their genitals are less likely to have a regular pap smear, have sex less often, find less enjoyment in sexual experiences, and are more likely to take sexual risks.

 

Women must have the opportunity to view a range of diversity to gain an understanding that the societal ideal is an artificially created one, at the extreme end of the natural range of genital anatomy. However, our society does not approve of the open display and discussion of genital reality, except through the deceptive lens of pornography or, less commonly, through artistic renditions. In fact, the very language used to describe a woman’s anatomy is couched in ignorance and shame.

 

For many of the women reading this, the word “vulva” may sound foreign. The external female anatomy is most commonly referred to, incorrectly, as the vagina. In fact, the vagina refers to the internal canal, whereas the external anatomy, including the mons pubis, the labia majora and minora, and clitoris are collectively called the vulva. By excising the external anatomy from our language and emphasizing only the part required for heterosexual sex and reproduction, we are in effect denying female sexuality. This “psychic mutilation” wrought upon a woman’s anatomy contributes to the common experience of shame around one’s genitals.  

 

It is up to us, as women, to recognize the artificial shaping forces that have led to so many of us feeling that there is something unpleasant or wrong with our genitals. Our bodies are beautiful and diverse. Let’s learn to celebrate that!

13 Comments

 

Thanks for such nice

Thanks for such nice conversation here..Its really great oppurtunity for me to visit your stuff...Very well written content. Keep it up.

This is a good conversation

This is a good conversation so far! I just pleased to read about this entry. Really all these information are very helpful to me. Thanks for this allocation.

This is an amazingly well

This is an amazingly well written article into a subject which is not often discussed.

Thank you for taking to time to put this out.

 

I really like what you said

I really like what you said about "psychic mutilation" resulting from the ommittence of the term "vulva" from our language when we commonly descrbie female genitalia.  I don't think any word is easy for most women to use, nor is it easy for most women to even have a conversation about their genitalia.  Its amazing how much this contrasts with the way men are brought up to regard their bodies.  The other day I over-heard some young men in the backyard next to ours and they couldn't seem to stop talking about their penises and testicles. 

19 years ago, I created the

19 years ago, I created the Wondrous Vulva Puppet, for all the reasons your article states.  Come by my site to see hundreds of Goddess named Vulva Puppets, learn how powerful women were back in the pre-christian era.  In addition I created Vulva University, Sex Through the Eyes of Women, a place where women have been writing about our place of creativity, power and love.  http://www.houseochicks.com

 

I am the original creator of the Vulva Puppet-- email me dorrie@houseochicks.com

In www.lovesexfamily.com, my

In www.lovesexfamily.com, my new online resource center devoted to holistic human sexuality information, I recently posted about the importance of empowering women to embrace a diversity of vulvae. I also posted about it here: http://www.newpornbywomen.com/2011/03/vulvae-galore.html and here: http://www.quizzicalmama.com/2011/03/teaching-my-toddler-about-her-yoni.....

I look forward to viewing and reading your book!

Quizzical mama

I run the only charity in the

I run the only charity in the world for vulval health.  I have appeared on UK TV and Radio, promoting awareness for health conditions that affect the vulva.  I wish to endorse your article.  I also hope you will support the work I do for women who endure vulva cancer and pre-cancerous conditions and dermatoses of the vulva.  Many women are losing their vulvas to surgery for these conditions because the 'taboo' prevents them from seeking help when they have the early signs and symptoms.  March is Vulval Health Awareness Month.  Every day, somewhere in the world, a woman dies every day from vulval cancer.  Promoted and deemed a 'rare' cancer - it seems to me that its an awful lot of women to die from something that is supposed to be too rare to care about - vulval health - at this time the most neglected area of women's heath.  All women are precious, all vulvas are too.  Thank you for your interest in the vulva.  Fabia Brackenbury - Founder Vulval Health Awareness Campaign. www.vhac.org

My name is *Freyja* and I am

My name is *Freyja* and I am a participant/contributor in/to this book. 

It has been my honour to be a part of this very worthy endeavor by a woman who's braveness in stepping forward and speaking up in this area has given me increased strength about the beauty in my most sacred body part! 

It has inspired my outlook and made me realize my own fragility in self-expression.  I am a model, that does and is willing to be photographed for artistic nudes that include pictures of my labia/vulva pussy! 

I am proud to be able to share my story and break my own barriers and hopefully also make it possible for others to feel comfort in stepping forward and dispell their own fear of revealing their own beauty in those most delicate and lovely of "pussies! 

If my story gives just one person the courage to also share theirs, then I encourage you to do so. 

Wrenna's effort's and those of her partner, in bringing this "subject" into focus, has become a journey into self-discovery and the joy that can be found in recognizing the beauty in being able to "Show Off our most precious parts!

Excellent article - thank

Excellent article - thank you! 

I particularly appreciate how you have phrased the discussion of how in our culture women's genitalia are either conceptually absent or perceived negatively, by highlighting the psychic parallels to the physical mutilation that happens to millions of women in other parts of the world.

I am the webmistress of www.yoni.com and hope to contribute to breaking the vulva taboo with humour and song in my show 'Vaudeville of the Vulva'

I have also started a facebook cause - The Vulvalation - a grassroots movement to create a positive attitude towards female genitalia, a society in which the most essentially feminine part of a woman’s body is honoured, respected, loved and understood. The website will be coming soon but for now you are welcome to join us on facebook.

Lets keep this conversation going and create a positive and greatly needed change.

Viva la Vulva!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just so as you know, it's not

Just so as you know, it's not just women who think this is important.  This man does too.  Well said.

 

PGR

A friend of yours brought

A friend of yours brought your insight to my attention. Thank you for doing this! I know a number of women who have thought  of plastic surgey in this area. It saddens me that my boys will grow up expecting a "porn" style genital! I look forward to seeing your book and sharing it

Brilliantly well said!

Brilliantly well said!

thankyou for starting this

thankyou for starting this conversation.

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