Viva La V.ulv.a.

Okay, so last night I sat and watched a DVD called Viva La V.ulv.a. 

I really do not make this stuff up –  sometimes I wish I did, but not this time.

It is a DVD made by a sex educator Betty Dodson.   I had never heard of her until last week, so it was all big news to me. 

When you look at Betty Dodson, it is a bit like taking couple and sex advise from Betty White from the Golden Girls – actually it is exactly like that.  She is sweet, rather maternal and touching on eighty-two at this point and still continues to educate women about women.

To quote –

Betty Dodson, Ph.D. (born August 24, 1929) is an American sex educator, author, and artist. Dodson held the first one-woman show of erotic art at the Wickersham Gallery in New York City in 1968. She left the art world to teach sex to women. She is widely known as a pioneer in women’s, and to a somewhat lesser extent men’s, sexual liberation, having sold more than 1 million copies of her first book, Sex for One.  Much of her fame has come from her work not only advocating, but conducting workshops for more than 30 years in which groups of about 10 or more women (and at least once a group of men) would talk, explore their own bodies, and mas.tu.rba.te together. “

This particular DVD was just that – 10 women who sit around and discuss their    No really that is what it is.  It is not p.orn movie, though you would be totally correct in assuming it might appear that way.  It is more of looking at your “nether regions” in a biology way, with the aid of your rather eccentric but rather liberal grandmother.

When I thought that I couldn’t cringe anymore – and I cringed plenty – they all sat around with very large mirrors and bright lights, and spent some time examining their vu.lva.s. 

All in the same room.  At the same time.  And no one was giggling hysterically.  And no one was drinking wine!

So each woman gets the mirror and the light and sits splayed, while everyone examines her v.ulv.a, at the same time as Betty and the other 9 woman have a look see.  It’s a bit of a show and tell really.

So woman A is pulling herself open and everyone is having a look, and this is while Betty is using an ear bud (and no gloves I noticed) to point and probe various areas and everyone is going “oooohhhh” and “aaahhhhh” and saying words like “it is so pretty” and “wow that is cute…” and various other things I can’t actually put here.

I have realized a few things in the last two weeks, and that is that my “sexual script” appears to have been written by Swedish Religious Missionaries circa 1821!  I cannot believe how cloistered and how absolutely narrow my map of the world is – this DVD freaked me out – totally!

And then I got freaked out that I was freaked out by.

I really did not want to watch it, but felt I should – actually I “felt I had to” – I am doing a 7 week workshop and body awareness is one of the issues that is covered. 

When this DVD was handed out I started to get that vague nauseous feeling of dread and horror.

But I watched it.

Many things happened for me while watching this video.

First I had to take my hands away from my face, because that is how I was hiding my eyes, so I actually would not have to see what was happening on the screen.

Then I also got to look at 10 woman’s in a non-playboy or hustler sort of way. 

It was not a case of them being explicit so that some horny hairy and overweight 55-year-old man could have a look see and a drool – but rather than these women as individuals and as a group could look at their, and maybe have some understanding and appreciation of how they work – often for the first time. 

They were women all looking at a part of their own body they probably had not looked at before.   Most of them hadn’t – and my guess is that most of the women reading this blog haven’t either.

It was the equivalent of sitting around a table and everyone examining each other’s hands and commenting on nails and the lines, without it being this huge “embarrassing” thing or people squealing.

I think the DVD went on for about 30 minutes. 

The beginning was a bit excruciating for me. I think at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I am actually a bit of a prude.  Betty also used the c-word, but not in a cringe sort of way – though I did cringe, I might have even recoiled.  She uses it freely and in an affectionate way – which is not normally how one would think the c-word would be used.  See I can’t even use the c-word here …….

The realization I was that for one, I have never looked at myself. (I am not quite rushing out to buy a miror or a desk lamp, so let’s all calm ourselves down)

My wax lady and my OGBYN have had more of a look at me than me.  I prefer to avert my eyes in a rather Victorian-lady sort of way.  And that appears is the norm, among woman/girls I have asked.

And why?

Because I have always been taught – I have no idea by whom – that girly bits must always be kept covered.  

Good girls do not look at themselves, let alone admit to touching themselves. 

There is this message that “down there” is dirty and unsanitary and well pretty much off-limits.  And that in turn is what we teach our daughters.

Ever smacked your child’s hand away when she puts her hand on her v.ulv.a? I have!

Then whilst I sat and cringed – I was screwing up my face in horror – watching this DVD, I realized that I had done myself an injustice, and if I was not careful I would be doing the same thing to my daughters.

To raise my daughters and give them the stereotype behavior that I have lived with and force them to think of a part of their body as “dirty” or “shameful” is really a reflection on what I am teaching them, and really what does that do for them moving forward.

Make them hate a part of their body, make them ashamed?

Most women and men – do not understand how women work.  How our mechanics are designed – good grief I recall sitting in my OGBYN’s office while he did a drawing for me – and it was my third child.  Yes I understand the rudimentary mechanics, but I really do not know how I work. 

And for some reason I think that is okay.  However with my recent DVD purchase I am wondering, is it okay?

Listen I have not quite got my head around this – and to be honest I feel a bit punch drunk today after watching the DVD.

I do feel however that there has been some sort of switch.   

Not a direct “on/off” switch that went off in my brain last night, but definitely an awareness that maybe I have got this all terribly wrong, and maybe Golden Girl Betty Dobson is on to something here (please bear in mind this DVD is easily 20 years old, so not only is she on to something, but good grief  I have severely been left behind on this one).

I might not be quite ready to burst into song about Viva La V.ulv.a, but maybe my brain has started to think just a little differently ….. just maybe….. just a little.

Leave a comment


  1. joanne

     /  April 11, 2011

    “How absolutely narrow my map of the world is – this DVD freaked me out – totally!”

    Replace DVD with blog post, to make it a quote relevant to my experiance. Don’t think I could have been more squeamish if i had watched it myself. I completely get what you are saying, but o my gosh!!

    I recently bought a book to assist me with the sex ed talk with my son, which I flipped through myself quitely first and I must say, even the catroon diagrams of the girls anatomy was and education for me. I know I have one, apparently its a pretty one, it is definately a functioning one, but more than that – I just couldn’t!!

    • reluctantmom

       /  April 11, 2011

      Joanne, you made me laugh today – I had the same cringe quality on the sex education book I bought for my kids – and that was several years ago. But I put that down to normal behaviour, we all cringe when it comes to talking about sexual education with our kids …. but yes, I know mine functions, am also at a bit of a loss to look at it … or her … as it appears is the politically correct way to talk about your – though, no less cringe worthy.

      • joanne

         /  April 11, 2011

        Her?!? O no – cringe, giggle, squirm

        Oi, I have a long way to go

  2. julz

     /  April 8, 2011

    Sounds like a fabulous DVD to be honest. I am so used to the porn images (yes we like porn)that I think I have a very misguided image of what is normal and have seriously considered reconstruction!

  3. lipglossninja

     /  April 7, 2011

    hehe. never really thought about it. I guess its looking looking at my tonsils….not that it freaks me out….just dont really need to do it very often?

    i do find the idea of bright lights and mirrors mildly disturbing but okay. whatever it takes for one to be comfortable.

  4. Tanya

     /  April 7, 2011

    Work on it! 🙂 Trust me, as mother of a daughter turning 21 in just over a week – I am VERY proud of the fact that I got past my hereditary cringe and raised a young woman who will never fake one – cause she knows her own body and is not too embarrassed to guide! (you know what I mean – I just don’t know how much plain speaking your blog can handle! 🙂 – should I say Confidence + Body knowledge + Pride instead of Shame = Damn Fine 0.r.g.a.s.m?!!

    • reluctantmom

       /  April 7, 2011

      There we go then …… could not have said it better myself!

  5. ps..would love to know more about the course/workshop that you are doing. Can you mail me about it please?

  6. Had a good giggle at this post. I may link it to my next post. Hope you don’t mind?

  7. I had a few laugh out loud moments while reading this post, but did anyone else unintentionally squeeze their legs together? Like you said, it is so ingrained in us from a young age that to touch yourself is a dirty, dirty thing.

    I remember watching Oprah a while back and she had Dr Laura Berman ( on her show. Their was this huuuugge uproar about the fact that Dr Berman was instructing women to use flip charts etc to educate their daughters about their nether regions.

    Remember the big whoo-ha when The Vagina Monologues came out?

    • reluctantmom

       /  April 6, 2011

      I feel like I have missed an entire revolution of thought here ….. really totally shot past me ….. here I am all open mouthed at a DVD that is at least 20 years old if not more … and to me it is a revolutoinary way of thinking!!! What the hell happened to this message?

      I am off to find Dr Laura …

  8. Sharon

     /  April 6, 2011

    Ok, so I started out reading this post cringing & wanting to close it and not continue on.
    But, like you, I am also very much aware of what we and society teach little girls about themselves. When a little boy grabs his willy everyone thinks its cute, but when little girls do that they’re told its dirty! I HATE that! I HATE what we teach girls and I’ve been very conscious of it because I so badly want to break that mould when raising Ava. I want her to not be ashamed of herself and her body parts!

    • reluctantmom

       /  April 6, 2011

      Thanks Sharon, that is exactly the “ah hah” moment I had. I am exactly like everyone else, but watching the DVD and listeningto Betty – and way she was educating these women. It was not this sexually charged situation, it was woman learning about thier bodies as woman – and not to be ashamed of themselves. I am not quite sure what to do with this “ah hah” moment …. but it has made me stop and ponder how to continue.

  9. Mandy

     /  April 6, 2011

    oh my word I am CRINGING at the thought of this! hehehehehe. No ways, you are braver than me, I wouldn’t have been able to watch this. I would have been ruby red in the face and been giggling like a 5 year old! lol lol

    • reluctantmom

       /  April 6, 2011

      I really should have video taped my face and the look of horror ….. that alone might have got quite a few hits via YouTube!

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