Pubes; Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Ah, pubic hair what a wonderfully uncomfortable topic! So uncomfortable in fact that I can guarantee that at least one person scrolled past this post and let out a big “EW!” in annoyance. But regardless we’re talking about this, it’s happening.

Tragically, I realized that everyone in my circle of friends had decided to liberate themselves from the shackles of pubic hair before a pool party. It was the summer going into my freshmen year. We were all changing when a snarky blonde and my worst frenemie cried out, “Oh my God, you don’t shave?!” Wait, what? I just got these though. I looked down at what puberty had thrown my way and felt completely humiliated. However ashamed I may have felt I also remember being unutterably pissed. I had waited for womanhood and now that it had arrived I had to go back to being twelve? That’s like going out and buying spike heels and the second you put them on everyone around you is shaking their heads and saying, “No. Take them off; flats are totally in this year.” So I picked up a razor and bid womanhood adieu because I’m a spineless lemming.

Okay, so yes it may seem awkward or ridiculous to discuss these things but they actually carry quite a significant role in women’s lives. Doctors in the 1960’s used to shave women’s vaginas before they gave birth because women’s (not men’s) pubic hair was seen as unclean. Excuse me, but what the fuck does that even mean? This naturally occurring hair on my body is somehow dirtier than a man’s? So dirty in fact that my child can’t pass through it? This is just one example of how the medical field has medicalized women’s bodies leaving them “othered”. A term used most often when a dominant culture or group looks at another and says, “you’re different than me therefore you must be wrong and we must fix you.” So there it is, white-male OB/GYNs were tired of looking at bushes all day so they made up a reason why they didn’t have to. Perfect, as if it’s not already agonizing enough to heal from giving birth, let’s throw razor burn into the mix!

The 1970’s brought with it disco, cocaine, and of course an explosion of pornographic films. It’s as if everyone was just tired of fighting after the civil rights movement and made a unanimous decision to just say “Screw it” and start a party. More pornography meant a greater visual of the vagina which it was decided had to be altered to be more ascetically pleasing. Throughout the decades as the popularity of pornography grew so did the notion that hairless vaginas were beautiful and more desirable than ones covered short and curlies. This phenomenon expanded so much so that now it even affects men. Ever slept with someone and feel like there was something missing that you couldn’t quite put your finger on? Yeah, it’s because like anorexia more men are adapting this catching trend as well!

So what does it all mean? Well, whether we like it or not rejecting pubic hair posts two problems. One being, that we are altering our genitalia to resemble that of a pre-pubescent child and two, that we accepting that our bodies must be changed in order for us to be beautiful or presentable. When we make the claim that being bald is brilliantly sexy, what we’re actually doing is sexualizing children. Seriously, I’m sure Nabokov’s character Humber Humbert would have been absolutely enthused by the idea of grown women running around with baby vaginas. Sexualizing children doesn’t stop at Holister or Abercrombie, where young girls are being prompted to buy miniskirts or bikinis in order to impress their male counterparts; it stays with us into adulthood. Women are constantly being forced to adopt trends that may seem harmless now but actually began under some very degrading circumstances. Patriarchy has medicalized our bodies countless times throughout history but the fact that this practice has roots in pornographic film making makes it even worse. That’s right ladies, when has porn helped us out? I mean really. Is anybody else tired of hearing “Can I cum on your face??” Um, no and you just completely ruined the moment.

Now, I get it. Letting it grow poses some problems too. The number one problem being that it is seriously uncomfortable. Or perhaps you’re afraid to be categorized by your partner as “that weird art girl” or the ever popular “feminazi” I get it. At least get educated about your body before you decide to alter it. Know exactly what it means before you pick up your razor, and above all else if you choose to shave, shave it for yourself not for your partner, because I’m sorry ladies but if you’re man has a serious problem with hair then it’s time to accept that he’s probably a pedophile.

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Let’s Talk, Girl Talk: Vaginas

Essentially, The Vagina Monologues is about different women and their relationships with their vaginas. It’s creator Eve Ensler interviewed hundreds of women and asked them questions like, “If your vagina could talk what would it say?” and even “What would it wear?” Of these testimonies some were chosen, blended, or rewritten to represent the differing views between society and women about their “down there’s”. After seeing this performance at Ohio State the other night I felt inspired to investigate my own relationship with my down there.

To me, vagina was never a dirty word, and it certainly didn’t sound like some shameful disease. Although I have always reserved a quiet disdain for the words “pussy” and “cunt” I always thought that vagina sounded beautiful and even exotic, rather than medically necessary. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that I had  a vagina until I was forced into sex education in fifth grade. I can still recall our science teacher’s shaky explanation of intercourse. She stood uneasily beside the projector with her left pointer finger and thumb forming an “O” shape while she slowly jabbed her right finger through it. “See class, the penis goes inside the vagina just like this” All of the girls in the class just sat there with a confused look on their faces. I leaned over and whispered into my friend’s ear, “Where’s that hole supposed to be?” she whispered back and said, “The middle one.” We both stuck out our tongues in childish disgust. Until that shocking revelation I believed that all my vagina was, was a chubby, hairless triangle between my legs. I stayed away from my fat little pouch until I was forced to deal with it. I had started my period for the fist time in the eighth grade and it was now time to woman-up and learn how to use a tampon. I sat on the toilet for almost an hour listening to my friends cheering me on and shouting out directions from outside the bathroom, as I tried desperately to understand why that damn thing wouldn’t go up my vagina. It took three hours to figure out that it was because my vagina was not up but back. 

I really never understood the concept of hating the look of one’s vagina. A young man had exposed himself to me in the park by my house the fall of my seventh grade year so I knew what a penis looked like, and after seeing how gross they were I thought vaginas might as well be masterpieces. In the story, Because He Liked to Look at it, the character explained that she was so disgusted by the sight of her own vagina that she imagined there was furniture between her legs. Who taught us to hate the aesthetics of our perfectly personalized vaginas?  It’s yours, and it’s the only one you’ve got so you should love and honor it.

I was still pondering what my vagina would wear when I was shaken back to reality by the words of the next character. She was a Bosnian woman who had been captured by four soldiers who had raped and tortured her for six days. As she told her gruesome tale I squeezed my legs tightly together as an effort to protect mine from invaders. It was then when the burning started between my legs and I realized that I was mourning for her, and what she had lost. I swallowed hard and shifted uncomfortably in my chair as I listened to her explain that the soldiers raped her with a rifle and that on the sixth day of  being raped part of her labia fell off in her hand. Her vagina was destroyed and so then, her heart was as well. This wasn’t even the most horrific rape story I’ve ever heard. Indigenous Guatemalan women raped with machetes as a response to their political upheaval, Women in Eastern Europe who have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution in other countries, and the gang rapes of young girls IN THIS COUNTRY are among the one billion tragic stories of the nameless and voiceless victims of sexual violence.

I know my vagina. I know how she looks, and what she likes, I know how to take care of her. I never feel a disconnection to my vagina, that is of course when I’m alone. When a man comes into the situation that’s when I lose her, abandon her, and hand her over because she no longer belongs to me, she is his. I don’t even notice it’s happening, really. I always enjoy the beginning but then the fear sets in, and it grows and gets loud. It screams inside my head until I start panicking, that is not my partner…he’s in me and I don’t know him…I’m not safe here…I’m not safe…and then I tell him to stop, and he does and it’s over and I’m embarrassed and ashamed and he feels like he did something wrong when he didn’t. I used to block all of this out, but since I finally acknowledged my trauma my thoughts have become more powerful.

That’s the thing about vaginas, they’ll hold inside whatever it is you place in them. That is to say, they will hold shame, pain, and sadness, just as much pleasure or desire. This is why they must be taken care of, respected, and loved. If my vagina could talk she’d say, “STOP, take me on a date, like me and love me before you touch me”, “Don’t call me pussy, I’m no pussy…I’m more powerful than you think!”, and of course, “I am not a whole that was created for your penis, I am my own proud, perfect, separate entity and your bullshit is drying me out like a desert.”

I Believe in Change

(Inspired by Eve Ensler’s article: Over It)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eve-ensler/over-it_b_1089013.html

 

I believe in a world where people understand rape, and not just when it’s forceable.

I believe in a world where children can play outside with out their parents watching every move, and not fear being kidnapped.

I believe in a world where women are no longer afraid to walk home alone at night, or to their cars by themselves, simply because they’re women.

I believe in a world where young girls aren’t taken advantage of at parties just so that it can be blamed on the fact that, “they were drunk”

I believe in a world with out ruffies.

I believe in a world where no one justifies rape as “Well she was asking for it”

I believe in a world where women can wear whatever they want and won’t be attacked for it.

I believe in a world where women don’t have to sell their bodies for money.

I believe in a world with out forced prostitution or human trafficking.

I believe in a world where women can trust men, and there bodies won’t be broken.

I believe in a world where women and children are safe.

I believe in a world where little girls and boys can grow up with out being molested.

I believe in a world with harsher punishment for rapists and child molesters.

I believe in a world where harmful rape kits aren’t necessary because a victim’s statement is valid evidence.

I believe in a world with out gang rapes.

I believe in a world with out brutal rape videos and child pornography.

I believe in a where women are allowed to be powerful and own their birthrights.

I believe in a world where women and homosexuals are no longer held down by sexual violence.

I believe in a world where women in the military aren’t raped.

I believe in a world with out South African rape camps for lesbians.

I believe in a world where men and women aren’t raped for being gay.

I believe in a world where women can negotiate condom use, regardless of the country or situation.

I believe in a world where women can negotiate when and who they have sex with.

I believe in a world where women have choice.

I believe in a world where sexual assault is considered a hate crime.

I believe in a world with safe homes for victims of sexual violence.

I believe in a world where women can establish community and a voice for themselves.

I believe in a world where that voice will be heard.

I believe in a world where women and victims no longer live in shame.

I believe in a world where women are free and accepted as leaders.

I believe in a world with out sexual violence.

I believe that it can happen, and that we together can make a positive change for our community, wherever it may be.

I believe we can start a social movement and finally end sexual assault. Everyday move forward towards a more positive future and walk for these victims. If you also believe in a world with out rape, speak up, act out, and pass this message of hope along to whoever you can. Retweet it, “like” it or share it on facebook, e-mail it, Re-post it, do whatever you can. Get the word out that we’re seeking justice and we won’t give up until we get it!

Black is Beautiful.

In this country if you are a woman then you will undoubtedly experience sexism in your lifetime. You may find yourself faced with sexual abuse, struggle with getting your voice heard, and even have to fight for your freedom of choice. If you are a black woman in America you will feel all of this pressure as well as something separate but equally as debilitating, this being racism.

Racism is a sickness that has plagued the African American population since their forefather’s were brought to this country in chains. The idea that the black people of this country are inferior to the white dominant race, regardless of class, is one that is completely ingrained into American culture. The Civil rights movement brought about great change and granted justice to those who had been victims of discrimination. However, just because you write something on paper and stamp it with an official stamp, doesn’t mean that everyone will change their behavior. Racism is handed down from parent to child and passed around nonchalantly between friends. This is also how sexism works. Negative concepts and stereotypes about women maintain their existence through the individuals who mindlessly pass them on.

So there it is. Black women get hit twice, and possibly the hardest of any race in this country. There are age old stereotypes that are still very much alive today. Stereotypes that continue to affect our judgment and force black women into labeled boxes. among these labels there is Jezebel, which represents the idea that black women are overtly sexual and uninhibited. We can still see this today just by flipping on BET. Next time you watch a popular rap video notice the women who slide up and down the poles, the ones whom they refer to as “video hoes.” These are your modern day Jezebels. Rappers are using sexist images of money hungry scantily clad women which will then influence white society to assume, “Oh this is how all black women must be.” Does that seem fair? No, because it’s not. Often times sexism becomes the starting point for racist ideas. Then there’s Mammy, a woman that represents everyone’s aunt, grandmother, as well as economic depression. Her image can be seen stamped on Aunt Jemima advertisements. The plastic pancake syrup bottle has even been molded to match her full figured body. Today Mammy has become the “big ghetto momma” on the block that no one wants to mess with. Finally, there’s Sapphire. This cliche is portrayed countlessly on Mad TV and SNL skits. She is the woman who will rip out the weave of another and swing it around her head like some sort of battle prize. In other words, she’s a bitch.

These historical labels are ridiculous. By perpetuating any of these stereotypes we are doing a direct injustice to black women. Because these negative ideas have remained such a huge part of our culture for an immense amount of time they can become expectations that women have no choice but to fulfill. We, as women must do everything in our power to support one another. I know we can, because as a collective we are powerful. No one deserves to receive negativity from all sides, to be pushed around and beaten down. If you say that black women and girls are “hard” then why don’t you ask yourself why, or even if they actually are all this way. Black trulyis beautiful, but beyond that we are all beautiful. Regardless of our skin, eyes, size, or the texture of our hair. We have a duty to break our friends and sisters from these steely cages. We must uplift every woman in order to uplift ourselves. In the end, no matter what we look like or where we come from, we are all beautiful because we are women, and being a woman is a great thing.

The Cramps, The Bloating, The Horror?

In any given day one will see numerous TV commercials pointing out the sheer terror of getting your period. There are tampon ads that suggest that mother nature is a shrewd little woman set out to ruin your entire day. Heat pad ads offer relief from excruciating cramps because, well God forbid you go running on period! Or what about the birth control commercials that portray women celebrating their new found freedom from menstruating every month because in their words, “Who says you need four periods a year?” Well one, nature says. Your body and your entire reproductive system relies on your monthly flow, if it didn’t then we wouldn’t have one.

It seems to me that society and the media are in agreement that one cannot possibly be at her best when Flow’s in town. This is probably why women believe it’s the end of the world when they get their period. Aside from the few who let out sighs of relief upon seeing the rosy indication that they are saved from an unplanned pregnancy, menstruation is viewed pretty negatively. Why? It is really that bad? Or are we as women just getting labeled as being abnormal yet again?

The medical community is always trying to mess with women’s bodies. It’s as if there are doctors in a far away lab somewhere gazing with disgust at a used tampon and saying to each other, “That shit just isn’t right.” So they create medicines like Midol and Pamprine to “fix” the problem. The problem that ensures life on this earth and may very well be the most natural thing in humanity.

I’m a woman, I understand that continuously changing your tampon and constantly worrying if you will end up ruining yet another pair of underwear is a hassle, but come on. Ads that incessantly shove the idea that women cannot function properly with out medicine or “scented” tampons down our throats is just too much! Most of the medications meant to alleviate PMS are probably closer to sugar pills. The birth control we take to help “regulate” or cycle often does more harm to our bodies than good. Finally the products that are the most convenient for us to use are packed with harmful chemicals including bleach. That’s right ladies, big tampon/pad companies believe that we will be less willing to use a tampon if it’s not at it’s whitest. This seems hilarious to me considering it’s unlikely that it will stay white for very long.

The thought that we might celebrate menstruating seems vulgar and ridiculous, but aren’t our bodies worth celebrating? I’m not saying that we should run around swinging our tampons and pads in the air singing at the tops of our lungs, but we should at least not act like it’s the end of the world. Remember that long ago, some old coot probably said to a woman, “Ew you’re bleeding, that’s foul. Go sit on that hay stack over there and don’t come out for 5-7 days.” This could actually be my hormones talking, but tell that old coot to go fuck himself because there’s nothing wrong with our bodies or the way that they function.

The Boys Who Cry Love.

They all love to say that women are complicated. We’re moody, or we’re hot and cold. What happens when it’s the other way around? Remember back if you will, to a really great first date. The first time he kisses you and you feel that sweet sickness deep in your belly. The phone calls, the uncontrollable smiles you can’t bare to hold in as you wait by the phone. The sheer rush of a wonderful new crush. There is no greater feeling than this, but sometimes it goes south and turns sour. I’m talking about the boys who cry love. The ones that stop shy of committing but still won’t let you go. Dates turn into late night phone calls and clarity becomes foggy and confusing.

For a long time it felt like every time I started to fall for someone it wouldn’t work out. I would get my heart broken, cry into my phone and walk wearily away. But one would always come back. This gave me hope and every time he strolled back into my life I would take him in with open arms and believe that this time, it really would be different. After our first initial break up I swore that I would never go back to him. Of course I caved, I’ve always been weak when it comes to penis. After not speaking for months he called me late one night asking if I wanted to “play nintendo”. Right, like I don’t know what that means. I was drunk. I scrambled out of my friends bed and while she was in the bathroom I ran out with out a word. My goal was to cross the entire campus in half the time, turning a 20 minute walk into one of 10. I was making great time, but unfortunately I was walking in the wrong direction, away from college and deep into the hood. Long story short I was picked up by a police officer and “Officer McNasty” insisted that he deliver my stumbling body to the front desk of my boy’s dormitory himself. This wasn’t the only time that I humiliated myself in the name of love either.

There was another time when I took an especially degrading walk of shame across campus after spending the night with him. It was the day after halloween and I was wearing a tiny black cocktail dress and spike heals. When I had entered his building late Friday night it was unusually warm, when I left on Saturday morning it was freezing, a shocking 36 degrees to be exact. It was also a game day and I just happened to be walking past the insanely crowded OSU stadium. The sidewalks and streets were flooded with all kinds of blood thirsty buckeye fans. They were ready to take their drunken pride and angst on someone, so there I was. “Shake that ass for the buckeyes baby!” A stumbling meaty man screamed. Stares were coming at me from all directions. Mothers were covering their children’s faces, protecting their eyes from the whore that walked before them. Heads were shaking, people were cheering, and snide comments were being hurled at me unrelentingly. At my horror, someone even began to film me with their camcorder. Needless to say I crawled into bed and didn’t come out for the rest of the day. The only haunting thought still left in my head was, “Why couldn’t he have given me a sweatshirt??”

Ah, but still he refused to commit to me. I wasn’t the girl he would bring home to mother, only the girl he allowed in his bed. Before too long I became lost between the sheets. He continuously teased and tempted me with love only to reconsider it and shut down the idea completely. Am I a fool for love, or just masochistic? If I’m both I know that i’m not the only one. We’ve all struggled with boys who cry love before, so what are we doing and why are we still hanging on? It may be a couple of things. If you’re dating the wrong people who string you along and break your heart, it’s because this is who you’re attracting. I attracted sleazy boys, because wasn’t a complete angel either, nor was I alright with myself.

It’s really very simple. If I don’t love myself, how then can I expect someone else to love me? We chase the men who don’t know what they want, because we don’t really know what we want either. This is also why we insist on chasing the ones who treat us badly. We don’t feel like we deserve to be treated well because frankly, we don’t care about ourselves. A common problem with both men and women seeking relationships is the reasoning behind why we are seeking relationships. We tend to think, “I’m lonely and unhappy, I need love to make it all better.” No, you will never find a healthy long lasting relationship if you are treating your spouse as a crutch. It’s important to understand that the qualities we are missing within ourselves are often what we expect our spouses to either distract us from or provide for us. I used to fall for guys who told me that they loved my body because I didn’t, and I got a high from the self esteem boost. Now that I love my body I am no longer reliant on being told that I’m beautiful. This eliminates the men who are only looking at my body, and leaves the men who are more interested in getting to know me as a person. No one who has any self worth would dare begin a relationship with someone who is self deprecating.

The boys who cry love will stop their whining as soon as you stop demanding it. Don’t look for love that you don’t deserve. Instead work tirelessly at finding true love within yourself. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket keep some for yourself. If you fall madly in love with someone and they decide to leave, as hard as it is you need to know that you will be okay with out them or anyone else. As soon as you become your best self all of the dogs and shaky love affairs will fall away leaving you with the potential for a truly great relationship.

The Art Of the Great ‘O’

“I seriously remember laying there like, ‘This is sex?'” I giggled into my coffee and looked over at the dumbfounded look on my friends face. It’s no secret that sex at seventeen is more comparable to some awkward naked handshake than anything pleasurable. No young boy really knows what he’s doing, but of course we are expected to lay there and pretend that they do. If you are one who insists on saying that sex was always good (even in your teenage years), then you’re lying. But what if you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s and you’re still pretending to climax? It’s time to share my thoughts on the truth about faking it. Ladies, get ready for a little girl talk.

Whether you’re laying there bored and desperate for something interesting to stare at, or wondering if he knows he’s on your hair, you’re not having fun. Take solace in the fact that you’re not alone, we’ve all been there. Reflect back to these experiences and allow yourself a moment to gag. At the same time think about why you weren’t enjoying yourself, I mean really think. It’s always a possibility that it was just bad sex. However, there are also a slew of other factors that need to be considered when that final finale never happens.

Unfortunately, there is still a tremendous amount of shame that revolves around female sexuality. Sometimes this shame never leaves you. It can settle in the back of your mind and discourage you from enjoying yourself. Other times it can come from a place of discomfort, either with your body or your partner. You could be so distracted with negative thoughts about the way that you look that you’re not even paying attention to how you feel. You may not be treated the way that you really want to be. You could explain what you would like from your partner, but if you’re too embarrassed or uneasy to share than there’s really no point. Cosmo can give you 101 Tricks to a Great Orgasm, but it’s not going to help if your problem is all mental. A woman’s body is not a machine and we should never treat it as such. Young women often jump or are pressured into sexual experiences with out discovering their own sexuality. The same “girly” magazines that tell you how to climax also promote degrading, self-sacrificing ways to Please Your Man. Society isn’t allowing us to sit with ourselves and ask what we want from sex. Women are conditioned to give which can make it extremely hard to receive. Not every woman has this problem but I know that there are a lot of us out there who need to establish a relationship with both our bodies and our partners.

For God’s sake masturbate. Learn your body and how you want to feel. Know every function, tick, and button better than anybody else. This will not only raise your self esteem and love for your body but it also help seize any sexual shame you may have felt prior. If you are unable to climax from casual sex, then stop having it. Don’t force your body to do something that it doesn’t want to do. You are allowed to wait and establish trust and love with someone you are interested in sleeping with. How can you enjoy a situation that you were unable to make a full decision on? Sex can be a gift for yourself as well as a shared personal experience with someone else. It is the exchange of something beautiful and natural that should be enjoyed. It is an act beyond the physical and has the ability to tug on your mind and heart.

Self love is the best love and it is the key to establishing a satisfying connectedness with others. Every woman has the right to feel good and be happy with her sex life. If you have yet to enjoy yours fully, there is nothing wrong with you. Orgasms are not just a physical reaction. Remember that your body is often smarter than you are. So love, trust, and know yourself fully in order to allow someone else to do the same. Ladies, I encourage you to enjoy yourselves because you want to, rather than feeling forced to pretend. After all, no ones going to applaud you for your performance. If they did I would have already won the oscar for best actress.