Archive for the ‘Vagina- the Spirit and Soul’ Category

The Vagina Revolution is beginning!! (the long version)

Posted on: June 24th, 2012 by llewin No Comments

Marc and I got married in 1999 and although we were a bit older—ages 31 and 34—we still wanted to enjoy a year or so of married life before having kids.  Since I had been told for most of my life that I had a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) I was really worried about my fertility and the ability to get pregnant.  Even before I started trying to get pregnant I read a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility and I learned so much about my vagina, about cervical fluid, and so much more and I could not believe I had not know all of that before. I mean, I was 31 years old, educated, had a masters in public policy, I listened to NPR and I felt like I was up on the latest news…how could I not know some of the most basic things about my own body?!

Even though I had been fascinated with vaginas in general all of my life, this was the first time I actually thought that someone needed to write a book on vaginas—a book that would spell out in the most easy, basic way what women need to know about our own vaginas.

I had read Our Bodies Ourselves before—that amazing book by the Boston Women’s Health Initiative—but that was years earlier when my older brother gave it to me as a parting gift when I went off to college—and I didn’t even know where it was any more.  What I wanted now was something really easy and really basic—about my vagina, cervical fluid, and the basics.

But alas we did get pregnant and had Max in 2001, then followed with Kate in 2002 and Charlie in 2004 and my book went on the back burner.

I loved raising my children and spending time with them but I always knew I would need to work outside of the house as well as inside the house.  I went back to graduate school when I was pregnant with Charlie and I got my masters in school counseling so I could become a high school counselor.  I worked in a public high school in Charlotte, NC for almost two years when my school sent me to a middle school. I arrived in October and became the 6th grade counselor to over 400 students. I was fortunate to follow them to 7th grade and then to 8th grade.  They just “graduated” this past month and they will be moving on to high school in the fall.

So what does this have to do with vaginas?  Not so much—I apologize for digressing!—but it does have a lot to do with my observations of people in general and how much self-consciousness and embarrassment in general can really put a damper on your feelings about yourself and your body.  There is nothing like watching and getting to know 400+ middle school students over a three-year period to see how much self-consciousness can wreak havoc on your life and your feelings about yourself!

As my kids got older they asked more and more questions that often pointed out the many hypocrisies they observed.  One question of Kate’s specifically brought me back to thinking about vaginas.  She asked “mommy, if there are 7 billion people in the world and half have vaginas then why are people so embarrassed to use that word?”  She got me thinking again about how much shame and embarrassment so many women feeling so badly about their vaginas, their bodies, themselves.  Even though there had been some progress over the years—Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues to name one big piece of evidence, as well as a few mentions of the word vagina on television shows and in a few movies—the word and the body part was very much still shrouded in mystery and whispered about at best.  More and more I felt like if we could just break the word vagina out of the closet and “normalize” it then the rest would follow—women would feel more comfortable about using the word and then talking about and addressing issues with the body part.  I started writing my book Vagina Revolution a couple of years ago in earnest this time.  I interviewed many women who work with vaginas day in and day out: Ob/Gyns, a physical therapist who works primarily on pelvic floors, a retired midwife, a sex therapist, and others who could give me more insight and detailed information.  The first few drafts of my book emerged.

At the same time there was a lot of rumbling and energy around using the word vagina in public.  Kotex tried to use the word “vagina” in television ads a couple of years ago and three major network tv stations turned them down.  This led to lots of anger and frustration (check out http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/business/media/16adco.html and the hilarious http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/03/16/kotex-cant-say-vagina-on-tv/ ). Most recently—just last week!—in  Lansing, Michigan a female lawmaker Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on the house floor because she used the word “vagina” in a debate about abortion.  Thankfully Brown and other female lawmakers got fed up enough to start blogging and facebooking to get the word out and the goddess Eve Ensler who wrote the Vagina Monologues and also started V-Day came in to be part of the protest.  They all performed the Vagina Monologues on the capital steps in Lansing and thousands of women joined them to protest (including me—check out the picture, below!).  This to me was the first public demonstration of the Vagina Revolution.  Check out the articles below and stay tuned for many, many more adventures along the way of the journey of the Vagina Revolution.

 

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120619/METRO/206190338/-Vagina-Monologues-staged-Capitol?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

https://plus.google.com/101040998703128232705#101040998703128232705/posts

http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/06/michigan_vagina_monologues.html

http://www.wlsam.com/Article.asp?id=2478454&spid

 

Welcome, Vagina Revolution!

Posted on: June 24th, 2012 by llewin No Comments

I have been fascinated with vaginas for years.  What is not to be fascinated with?  They are the most amazing organs—a tube only a few inches long that can expand to let in all kinds of things and then of course let out babies.  And then pretty much contract and go back to normal—or at least a new normal!  Vaginas are both sexual and not; they are the source of so much pleasure yet can also be the cause of so much pain.  I have mostly kept this fascination to myself—I didn’t really think others would be as fascinated as I was plus I thought they might look at me like I was a bit crazy if I even brought it up!  But in recent years I have changed my views on this.  This is my story and why I decided to write Vagina Revolution, a book that demystifies, de-stigmatizes, and educates about all things vagina…

For so many years, I had been amazed at how much vaginas have been shrouded by mystery—whispered about—not even looked at by countless women. Like most women, I have heard stories about friends growing up with feelings of shame and embarrassment about their vaginas (for example one older friend told me her mother smelled her fingers every morning and evening to make sure she wasn’t touching “down there”…and another friend told me her family never talked about anything vaginal so when she was home alone and started her period for the first time she thought she was dying…), as well as friends living with pain or discomfort because they didn’t know how to ask the right questions of their own doctors. Over the years I have found that basic and interesting information about women is not shared freely and easily as, say, information about nutrition or shoes.  This is not because we don’t care, rather it is because we don’t have enough vocabulary, answers, and knowledge about our vaginas.

I can’t stand the idea of anyone suffering in any way–physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  A lack of knowledge and embarrassment causes way too much shame, embarrassment and pain and suffering.   After all, vaginas are only one of many body parts, and women are comfortable with so much else, so why not vaginas, too?

I had my daughter Kate nine years ago and so much of my recent thinking on vaginas comes from experiences with her and questions she asks.  Recently my Kate asked: “Mommy, if there are 7 billion people in the world, and half have vaginas, and almost everyone born comes through a vagina, then why do we have to be embarrassed to use that word?” Kate’s question, my fascination with vaginas, and more led me to write Vagina Revolution.  I am a wife, mother, public policy wonk, and school counselor, but not an expert on vaginas so to fill in the gaps in my knowledge I lined up experts to interview: Ob/Gyns, a physical therapist who specializes on pelvic floors, a midwife, a marriage counselor, sex therapist, and even my own family-physician husband! The book is packed full of interesting, fun, and empowering information, and written in an entertaining way — like a conversation between two friends.

I passionately believe that it’s unfair, harmful, and just plain wrong that we still have hang-ups about one of the most basic and natural body parts–the vagina.  I hope my book helps women feel more knowledgeable about and comfortable with their vaginas and bodies.  I hope readers enjoy reading Vagina Revolution as much as I have loved writing it!

p.s. here are the table of contents…

Vagina Revolution

Part I — VAGINA — THE BODY

  1. Hole 1 (the Vagina)
  2. Hole 2 (the Urethra)
  3. Hole 3 (the Anus)
  4. The Rest of the Anatomy in the Region
  5. Goo (Cervical Fluid and Vaginal Discharge)
  6. Clitoris
  7. Look (Shave? Pierce?)
  8. Smell
  9. Feel (Normal? Itch? Pain?)

Part II — VAGINA — THE MIND

  1. Vaginas Over Time
  2. Sexuality and Intimacy
  3. Fantasy and Your Biggest Sex Organ—your Brain!
  4. Masturbation
  5. Orgasm
  6. Sex!

Part III — VAGINA — THE SPIRIT AND SOUL

  1. Childbirth and Motherhood
  2. Sexual and Gender Orientation
  3. What Is Going On With Our Sisters Worldwide
  4. Comfort for the Soul: Taking Care Of Your Vagina AND Yourself
  5. The Word on the Word and the Final Word