This one goes out to all of those female-bodied individuals up in the club — or the classroom; it’s whatever. You may or may not own a vagina if you’re reading this right now, but chances are, you probably appreciate the mighty power of the pussy. For the next few minutes, I want this column to be a space of self-reflection and of exploration and celebration of the beautiful diversities of the cunt. You are now entering the female flex zone.
This week, I asked 100 college-age women some pretty intimate questions about their genitalia, and the answers were, well, intimate. While admitting that my results privilege those who are already willing to share such personal details, the variety of responses prove that ease in discussion doesn’t necessarily equal self-confidence or genital “adoration.” Rather, they were indicative of a true diversity in the look, scent and general self-reception of what someone referred to as her “beef in my taco … haha.”
Despite the countless ways our society has shamed us and made our bodies taboo, the vagina — clit, vulva, canal, etc. — is perhaps the singularly most important outlet for gaining feminist “Cliteracy” in addition to a deeper self-knowledge and contentment, IMO. Need I remind anyone that the clitoris is the only organ in the body whose sole function is physical pleasure? There are 8,000 nerves in just the tip of the clitoris alone, not to mention those of the other 9 centimeters of subcutaneous “female penis.”
As is crucial in breaking down any taboo, discussion of the vagina should start with looking at its informal aliases. Along with radical originals such as sex organ, down there and you know, notable titles for people’s privates include pussay, the lady, coochie, cunt, oven, vagazzle, poon, goodies, Carmen Sandiego, kitty, vajayjay, vulva, kiwi, clit+, Baby V, the Matrix, the cave, Virgin Mary and pelvis hole number one. In terms of appearance, people were generally pleased with the “normalcy” of their individual anatomies: Most were quick to assert a standard of uniform uniqueness or difference-as-normal.
I was pleasantly surprised that nearly half of my respondents considered their labia asymmetrical, despite a self-consciousness that this was “abnormal.” This isn’t just particular to my findings: Many feminist blogs are dedicated to normalizing differences in labial or vulvular appearance, proving that an aesthetic uniformity when it comes to vaginas is impossible — and unnecessary — to establish.
Queer folk, on the whole, tended to be more confident in the appearance of their “other lips” as well as generally “very comfortable” with showing their genitalia to a partner. 90 percent of those who identified solely as lesbian held their vaginas in “adoration.” This is pretty significant in terms of vaginal self-image, especially compared to 40-percent adoration on a wider LGBT scale and 35 percent among heterosexually identifying individuals.
Regardless of the apparent correlation between queerness and vaginal confidence, questions about menstruation and period sex divided the crowd significantly. Heterosexual women tended to “prefer” menstrual sex, whereas most others held an “only when necessary” policy. Across all identities and sexualities, though, people tended to hate their periods — unless you’re the empowered erotic artist who paints with her own blood, in which case I envy and salute you.
Apart from various menstruation issues, most vaginal qualms expressed to me were related to orgasms, smell and pubic hair. A lot of gals were damn proud of their untouched bush, while others lamented the facts that ingrown hairs are “ruining [their] life” and that their pubes grow back like mutant crabgrass. In terms of hair trends, the classics “full bush” and “bald eagle” were the top contenders for pube popularity, with “landing strip” and the “reverse Brazilian” — think the opposite of a mullet — close behind.
A lot of vagina owners feared they could be smelled from miles away or that their vaginal scent was some omnipresent entity. While some insisted their pussy juice smells like marketable “eau de moi” or “church wafers,” for one person, others described themselves as a straight-up fish market. On the whole, there was a general trend of favorable scent descriptors among those with a positive self-image.
Perhaps the biggest correlation to vaginal “adoration,” however, was frequency of sex or masturbation. Without claiming causation, it’s easy to imagine why any intimate attention down there — whether you’re in a long-term relationship or as single as my roommate — seems inextricably linked to a deeper knowledge of oneself. This phenomenon could also be closely tied to orgasm; those who complained about the difficulty or impossibility of “vaginal” orgasm also expressed some self-consciousness of or frustration with their genitalia.
While I can’t make claims on the intricacies of anyone’s individual vagina, some universal advice I will give is that continual exploration and self-love are the easiest ways to find peace with what nature gave you. No matter how many times someone compared my two lips to a tulip, I was personally only ever able to understand my vagina after I stopped considering it an estranged part of my body.
The realization that I couldn’t wait around for someone to give me the orgasm of my dreams coincided with the revelation that every vagina is special and imperfectly beautiful. Without ignoring its shortcomings and periodic inconveniences, I can safely say that after many years of neglect and misunderstanding, I am now madly in love with my pussy.