No I haven’t gone off my rockers. But I am quite taken by the idea of the Vagina Monologues: a series of reflective, dramatised, “speeches” which more or less trace the experiences and psychology of the vagina. These monologues express and reveal every nuance of a woman’s sexuality from pain and abuse, to surprise and divine pleasure.
As women we have come to associate our vagina with a representation of our sexuality. How we feel about sex and sexuality is significantly borne out in our comfort level with our vagina. Do we talk about it, touch it (outside of bathing), expose it, cover it up, know what it looks like, or even care what it looks like? Are we even in tuned to what the physical changes in our vagina may tell us about our sexual health?
The vagina is located deep within the pubic area so understandably, it tends to hold its fair share of mystery. Luckily, it has an entrance with a carefully placed pleasure centre, the clitoris, so even though “hidden” from view to some degree, we tend not to forget where it is. The challenge with the vagina as I see it, is not so much its logistics or location. It is more so the fact that it is another mouth, another entrance. And like the mouth, which houses the natural voice, the vagina also speaks. We just need to listen because it is never silent.
When as females we cross the bridge from childhood to womanhood, the vagina cries in bold red; it bleeds and there is pain and discomfort involved (more often than not). What is the vagina saying to us then? Could it be hinting at the fact that womanhood is inescapably a time of pain and that our lives will never be the same? When we experience that other “rite of passage”, our first sexual experience, again there is bleeding, mild discomfort, sharp pain or all of the above. If we took the time to listen to our vagina then, what could it possibly be saying? What could it be alerting us to?
Perhaps it is suggesting that pleasure is often a two-edged sword. It is great while it lasts but it does not come without a price or a risk. That is why a sexual relationship is so ultra-vulnerable. When we trust someone enough to give them our vagina we are in essence giving ourselves and by that same token we open up ourselves to the possibilities of both pleasure and pain. This can come in the form of acceptance or rejection, health and well-being or disease, true intimacy or abuse and yet all can be accompanied by the physical pleasures of the sex-act; a definite and often confusing double-whammy.
If we are in tuned to what our vagina is saying, on a regular day it can alert us to our reproductive health or status. From it we can gauge when we are ovulating, when there is infection, when there is need for a shower and happily when there is sexual arousal. Even our partners can benefit from paying closer attention to our vagina. While it is by no means the only point of sexual arousal, it is where we usually experience the orgasm and so should definitely not be ignored. The vagina can most definitely smile and laugh when its been made happy. In fact, it can scream the house down in absolute ecstasy!
Then there is child-birth. The vagina is perhaps stretched to its greatest capacity as it becomes the tunnel or vehicle to bear life. I think that those of us who have experienced childbirth, would easily agree that then it is perhaps shouting (or screaming) at its loudest. It is at childbirth that we can become more in tuned with ourselves. For me, pain became merely a means to an end, a necessary part of the life-process that wouldn’t conquer me because I experienced it, endured it and lived to tell the tale; all with my bouncing baby to boot.
Amazingly, the vagina can seem like both enemy and friend. It will perhaps continue to hold a series of contradictions which reflect the complexity of life. For those who think that I am perhaps making a mountain out of a molehill and that it is just a body part, think again. The vagina is both the entrance to life (at conception) and it is the exit of life (at birth). It plays a significant part in our identity as women and this is as it should be. Is it any wonder that those who experience vaginal mutilation through female circumcision feel so lost and bereft, as if a part of them was stolen?
I encourage you to embrace the complexity of the vagina and learn from it. It is important that we pass this knowledge to our daughters so that they will not pass theirs around like the latest gadget or toy for the boys to try out.
There is no doubt about it. Our vagina is definitely talking; it never “shuts up”. Let’s practise the fine art of listening to it daily and count ourselves privileged to have one.