Friday, April 29, 2011

Hear Her Roar: Jeffrie

“My Story” or How I Learned to Love My Body

I was brought up in a middle class family in Southern California where we didn’t discuss anything body-related. In fact, when I first got my period I was so embarrassed I hid it from my parents for over 6 months.

I didn’t date until I graduated high school, again because I was too embarrassed to broach the subject of sex with my parents, and they didn’t seem to want to push the topic either.

I was a reasonably active girl; I danced and was in gymnastics until I was in my mid 20’s, and people always told me I was pretty, but I couldn’t get a date to save my life. I even went stag to the senior prom… by the time I started college I had completely given up hope of ever getting a boyfriend, since every guy I had asked out had turned me down. I had resigned myself to being the “really cool aunt” or “the crazy cat lady”. I had a reasonable body and reasonable good looks, but I was completely unsure of myself. I hid my breasts as much as I could, wore baggy clothing, wore my hair simply in a braid or ponytail and did what I could to be androgynous. I was even too self conscious to masturbate or do anything of that sort, despite knowing lots of details from more experienced, older friends.

When I was 19, I had a life-changing experience- I got my first boyfriend. He was attracted to me through my ugly clothes and lack of makeup. He saw my body as curvy and beautiful, and after several months he began to teach me to appreciate myself in many, many different ways. He even went with me to Planned Parenthood for years when I went to get my birth control, until I was able to get health insurance.

A couple years later, we started working at the local Renaissance Faire- what better place to learn to take a complement and love your body! Within a year I had joined an acting group where I portrayed an Elizabethan harlot… quite a jump from the naive virgin I was 2 years earlier!

I ended up becoming the director of the group, did a TON of research on women and the dichotomy between the acceptance of prostitution during the Renaissance and the oppression of married women. Meanwhile, I learned even more to appreciate not only my beautiful body, but the variety of wonderful, encouraging, vivacious women I had befriended.

After dating my boyfriend for 7 years he asked me to be his wife. We were married October of ’07, and I have completely and totally learned to love every curve, crevasse and crease of my body. I am not skinny. My breasts are not huge. My stomach is not flat and tight. I love walking around the house naked: I am Rubenesque and damned proud of it!

I still direct and work the Renaissance Faire, and am constantly doing research on women’s history throughout the ages. I have surrounded myself with incredible women and men who believe in beauty in every form. In fact, our war cry (for lack of a better phrase) is “Flapdoodle”, which is a slang term from the late 1400’s/early 1500’s for a women’s vagina- it’s a great word for confusing people, and it’s fun to say!

If I ever have children, I know how to learn from the mistakes that my family made. It’s been centuries that women have been taught to be embarrassed of their bodies, so long that it’s almost an inherited trait. I am so glad to be living in an era where we are just starting to be able to reclaim the power and love that we were afforded in the Ancient Greek and Egyptian times, where women can be different shapes and colors and still be beautiful, sexy and intelligent.

Viva la Vulva! FLAPDOODLE!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hear Her Roar: Adrastea

When I was growing up, my vulva was never referred to as a vulva. It was a “private part” that no one should touch. It was something that I peed out of and eventually would be the escape hatch for a fetus, but it wasn’t something to be shared or enjoyed. So when I had my first serious boyfriend at 16, I came into the relationship with no awareness of how my vulva was supposed to be treated. I had never had an orgasm. Never masturbated. And so when we began engaging in oral sex, I was afraid at first of his ejaculate and didn’t want to let him finish. So he decreed that if he couldn’t cum, then I couldn’t cum. So as the relationship progressed, I became his personal blowjob machine and he trained me to shut down my brain at the first sign of sexual pleasure.

When I got to college, I met a boy in one of my classes who took a liking to me. He and I started dating and when he realized how twisted my view of sexuality was, he made it his personal mission to help me understand my body better. He told me “I won’t let you get me off until I get you off, and I don’t care how long it takes.” Looking back on my relationship with him, it was the healthiest one I’ve ever had. He truly saved me from years and years of men taking advantage of me and my body. I lost my virginity to him and it was with him that I had my first orgasm. Even though it didn’t work out for other reasons, he was the most wonderful, loving, and open partner that I could have ever asked for.

After him, my vulva and I have been at odds with each other. She believes that yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and bladder infections are the cat’s meow. We’ve had HPV, VIN, and abnormal PAP smears for four years. I have been crippled with shame and guilt over the idea that I would pass the potential for cervical cancer on to another woman. But in the past few months I am getting over that. I am dating my best friend from childhood and he is reminding me that I deserve of love, that my body is beautiful and that my vulva is not my enemy. I recently got involved with the Vagina Monologues and have started advocating for women’s health on campus.