Last night, after finishing an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, we stumbled across a show called “100 Vaginas” on Channel 4. We had no idea what it was about, I haven’t seen it advertised at all and no-one was talking about it. I think it was a kind of morbid curiosity which made us put it on but I’m so glad we did.
Artist Laura Dodsworth photographed 100 different vulvas, to explore the differences in each woman and also listen to their experiences with their vaginas. It covered everything from periods to masturbation, childbirth to miscarriage, even rape and FGM. Now, I’ve had a vagina for 24 years (I know, it’s a shock isn’t it?!) so I thought that I was pretty clued up on the workings on one but even I came away feeling enlightened, empowered but also extremely angry.
Until you think about it, vaginas are shameful. We all know what the worst word in our language is. Did you know that the origin of that word is actually a word for a female and their genitalia? If you have time today, search it and you’ll be surprised. When women’s roles shifted and it became important that they were at home, raising the children, that’s when that word became used as a curse word. Of course, there are still derogatory words in relation to the penis but none of them make people recoil in horror.
Periods are still taboo. I’ve sat down to film an alternative sanitary products video a few times and have found myself apologising a lot for showing my pads and cup. Even though that’s the whole point of the video, I feel like I shouldn’t be doing it. Periods happen. We should all be talking about them more. I don’t feel shame when I’m on but I’m definitely more uncomfortable when I’m outside. And that’s in case I leak and I’m waiting for other people’s reactions. If you still get embarrassed by periods, you need to grow up.
The vagina isn’t just a vessel for men to get pleasure from. The vagina gives life. Even if you had a C Section as I did, we all know how babies are made! It’s a gateway to create new life, the start of a whole new human. I feel like the British attitude to sex is very outdated and we certainly live up to that prude stereotype! I remember sex always being an open topic with my mum, I could ask her about anything and everything. Even now, when I’m a married mum of 2, I’ll still ask my mum questions if I feel something isn’t right. That’s the way I think we should all be. As soon as we take away the shame and the mystery, it becomes normal. And why shouldn’t we enjoy sex?
Female pleasure was another topic 100 Vaginas covered and I’m really glad they did. It’s still something which a lot of people don’t understand. Sex “usually” ends when a man has an orgasm. Biologically, he’s done his bit in trying to fertilise the egg so why would he need to carry on? But whether you’re trying to have a baby or not, why is women’s pleasure less than a man’s? Why are we second? Again? I think the statistic was around 80% of women are unable to orgasm through penetrative sex alone. Women are more complex than men and it varies from woman to woman but just pay her vagina a lite bit of attention and you’ll both be grateful.
I mentioned above that I felt angry through watching it. Some of the stories almost brought me to tears, like the women talking about her miscarriage. But the ones that really angered me were the ones around rape. It infuriates me that men still think that they can do what they want to a woman. That she doesn’t matter, as long as they get what they want. They have no regard towards her or her feelings, she’s chucked aside like a piece of meat once they’re done. It’s 2019, shouldn’t we be past this? It’s not enough to say “oh, you should have been more careful” or “if you hadn’t drunk so much or dressed differently, it wouldn’t have happened”.
Up to 10 women an hour are raped in England and Wales.
How about we stop victim blaming and we address the real issue of toxic masculinity and rape culture? Scrolling through the tweets about the show said it all. There were comments from “This is disgusting” to “Get the tissues ready lads”. There was even one from a woman who said it was bordering on pornography. Not once, while watching it, did either me or Gareth feel like it was sexual. We need to make a change. Call men out when they make derogatory remarks about women. Raise our sons to respect women. Show men that it’s ok to show their emotions. It’s all a vicious cycle and I am proud to be a mother of boys; they will grow up to know how to treat women. Their dad is a perfect example of that. I asked Gareth what he thought when we’d finished watching it. Even he came away feeling enlightened and like he’d learnt something new.
If you get the chance to watch it, do. I wouldn’t recommend watching it around your children though! Even if you think you know everything there is to know surrounding a vagina, I’m pretty sure this will be able to teach you something. If it doesn’t, hopefully, you’ll still feel enlightened.