Growing up as a young girl, no one ever told me that my vulva was supposed to be beautiful. My mother had a terrible word for it- bunny ( I still cringe when I share that with people today) and instead of telling me I should be proud or happy, she would chase me around the house asking if I had “washed my bunny” . She was a believer in far too many old wives tales about growing up and menstruation, so shaving, periods, tampons, smells, and the like, were all things I had to learn on my own.
I remember at 14 I talked with my best friend about oral sex. We discussed how gross it seemed to give blow jobs, but oral sex for us, was totally out of the question. Somehow we had both swallowed the lie that we were gross, and having a man down there would be subjecting ourselves to humiliation and taunting instead of pleasure.
Adolescence brought me more insecurity, as I compared my body to the images I saw in magazines, porn on the internet, and art. I knew I wasn’t doing something right, whether it was not maintaining my bikini line, not shaving everything off, or having darker skin colors because of my mixed race. My first, and last sexual interaction with a man was virginal and innocent, there was no investigation of each other, just plain vanilla intercourse.
It was a few years later, after I had read the vagina monologues, after I had gone to a leadership camp and became a banner waving feminist, after I had taken my first gender studies class at college, that everything changed. I fell in love with a woman. The first time I had sex with her it was as if my mind had moved to an entirely different place. I realized that I loved her body, and I knew exactly how to take care of it. The next day, I sat outside, realizing that if I could love her body, I would really be loving myself, validating myself. All my relationships since then have not only confirmed this revelation, but have also been opportunities for me to ‘spread the good word.’
That changed everything.
Since that relationship my confidence, my outright superiority complex, has ballooned. I worship all things vulva, whether they be constructed, or altered. I envy the trans men, who during their transitions sometimes grow clitorises large enough to penetrate. I gaze at my menstrual blood, thinking of the power it symbolizes. I never question the beauty of my body, having learned that my vulva is completely unique to me. My scent, my ‘textbook uterus’ (thanks obgyn!), my fascinating, wonderful, awesome clitoris, my Marilyn Monroe beauty spot ;). These are all things I have learned to not only treasure, but also hold as a badge of strength, sexiness, and power.