The one about boys and girls and their bits …..

Margot over at Jou Ma se Blog has done it again with her latest post The 25-year-old tomato sauce stain.  I am not going to paraphrase her post, so best pop over and read – it made me sit back and have a little think.

Last year I had a bit of a journey of self-awareness when I did a workshop with Dr Eve.  It was done with 6 (or 8 I forget) other women.  We met once a week, sat on the floor with cushions and Dr Eve facilitated a discussion.

Nothing about it was aimed at man bashing, it was all about awareness of our own bodies and our awareness of ourselves – but physically, spiritually and in every other way.

Why we think certain images are sexy, provocative or pretty.  How we take on roles in a relationship.  How we adopt roles in our lives as girls, women, wives, girlfriends, mothers and so on – and how much of this is connected to whether we have a vul.va or a pen.is.  It was really interesting, and made my brain stretch in directions I had not considered.

The ideas around why we view our vagi.nas  – vul.va being the correct term – in a certain light became quite a key feature.

I cannot say I enjoyed the workshop.

I am hardly prudish when it comes to speaking about most things, but there were several moments in the workshop where I blanched.  I found that it challenged my thinking.

It fired synapses and made me think in a variety of directions that I had not thought before.  It was very uncomfortable and every workshop was exhausting on every possible level.

I knew it was all going pear shaped when we started looking at vu.lv.a images ….. that was pretty much close to the time I started wondering where the buzzer was to the security gate.

I had not really given vag.ina.s much thought before then.  Funny that.

It was sort of something I had, and {more than likely} so too did all the women I knew – I have NEVER discussed the subject of vag.ina.s with another women, as I am sure it would be a conversation ender, no matter how I went about it.

Girls/women are given information from when they are young that their bodies, and especially their vu.lva/vagi.nas, are dirty and off-limits.  Do not touch, do not discuss, do not show anyone, and for god sake DO NOT TOUCH!!

Mention a period/me.nstrua.tion and you will have women (and men) recoiling in disgust.

What alarmed me is I was communicating the same message to my daughters.

While I was doing the workshop, Isabelle was still in nappies. I recall changing her on her changing mat, and whilst I was cleaning and powdering her “lady bits” she put her hands between her legs.

Without missing a beat I exclaimed: “Hey stop that, it’s dirty, SIES!” and added a tsk-tsk for good measure.

Only when it fell out of my mouth, and because I was dealing with it in the workshop, I realised what I had said, what I had been doing, and what I was imparting to my daughter.

I was enforcing the stereotyped that “girls parts” are dirty – off-limits – smelly – yucky ……..  I was giving my daughter the SAME MESSAGE that I had been given, and probably most other girls/women I knew walked around with.

I was horrified.  How indoctrinated was this message?

I struggle to not think SIES YUCK where vag.inas and me.nstru.ation are involved.

I sat through a video/DVD that Dr Eve had asked us to watch called Viva La Vul.va.

I was horrified, and scarred for the rest of my days, eyes please unsee stuff.  I made myself watch it as I thought I should not be having this sort of reaction to part of my body, which is a natural part, and part of me – I thought I could be mature about the subject matter.  It seems I am not that mature.

The point I am trying to make, in a very laboured fashion, is that girls are given the message (from a very early age) not to touch themselves, not to touch their va.gin.as, and gods truth not to show it to anyone, because it is dirty/ugly/sies .  We demonize a part of our bodies which is vital to most of our existence, and then we wonder why we have such self-image problems.

Boys do not get this message about their bodies.

I don’t think I have ever said to Connor he should not touch his penis because it is dirty. I think I might have indicated it is not appropriate in the bread aisle at Woolworths.

If a boy touches his penis in public – and this does not matter whether he is 4 months or 40 years old it usually is met with a chortle of “put that thing away ….” and then a well appreciated laugh.

If a girl touches her vu.lv.a in public — well I am not sure what would happen, as girls don’t, and women would probably rather die than touch herself in public.  It is just unheard of!

Margot’s post reminded me of the difficult journey we have as Sharon at The Blessed Barrenness said (so well) “As one who possesses a vagina raising another who also has a vagina” it really is a difficult task to raise girls.

It is really difficult to raise girls and give them a good image of their ENTIRE body when we miss the middle bit, because it is too dirty to talk about.