Ode To The Vagina

I am reading a book currently, called ‘ Fight like a Girl ‘ a memoir by Clementine Ford. She quotes a woman called Caitlin Moran who suggests the following exercise …..

Put your hand in your pants.

Do you have a vagina ? and

Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations ! You’re a feminist.

Wow! I wish someone had taught me that simple truth when I was a girl growing up. I knew I had a vagina, but didn’t know how much I had a right be in charge of it.

The idea that boys/ men could not control their penises and that as girls/ women we had a sense of obligation to them because of this, was very entrenched in the gender culture of the time.

The right to say ‘No’ was not something I was ever taught. I had to learn that kind of knowledge the hard way. Even when I had more or less understood that I was indeed in charge of my own vagina and could ‘choose’ who entered its humble abode, the shadowy idea that I was obligated to men and their penises still floated around me like a mantle I could not cast off easily. It continued to cast its shadow when, as a married woman I could not say “No” to sex any time I wanted to. I remember a pastor’s wife telling me once that the Bible definitely said my husband was in charge of my body.

My goodness, I feel horrified at this now!

Do you remember that ghastly expression “you are just being a cocktease”? Girls and young women were called that by boys and men if they dressed or behaved in a certain way. No wonder we felt this obligation to bow down to the mighty penis, God forbid!

I remember with some mortification that I wrote a poem for an ex-partner calling it “Ode to your Penis”. Tending toward arrogant tendencies anyway, which is why I parted from him, he must have really adored that poem!

and of course, I am just balancing the books here with my title to this piece of writing calling it “ Ode to the Vagina” ?.

What about the virgin and the whore idea?

When I was young, girls who had sex with a few boys were called ‘sluts’ and looked down upon. On the other hand, the boys who had sex with lots of girls were called ‘studs’ and greatly admired.

The idea that men could freely ‘sow their wild oats’ (as was the expression), in however many vaginas they chose too and women could not choose to be sexual in the same way without being degraded, was a massive double standard.

Thinking that this was now an attitude of the past, I was shocked to hear my grandaughter telling me a few years ago that at fifteen years old, the girls at her school who had sex with boys were called “hoes” and the boys at her school who had sex with girls continued to be admired as some kind of heroes.

Clementine Ford, a much younger feminist than myself, sadly poses these questions as she talks about the influences of her growing up years.

That women alike ( particularly those in their adolescence) have been trained to desire the approval of men? And the way a sexist society teaches its men to show approval for women is by deciding they want to fuck them?

So what has changed ? Maybe not as much as we like to think in this decidedly unfair gender dance.

I guess we just have to keep passing on the message until women and men alike are very clear about the facts.

Every woman has a vagina and she has a right to be in charge of it, any time, any place.

And let us teach every little girl this truth, explicitly.

“Window Woman” by jazzmoon12 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health.

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About me

Rosalind Lewis

Rosalind Lewis

Professionally I have 33 years experience as a Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health. I currently live in Melbourne, Australia and work in Mental Health. I have a particular interest in supporting and empowering women and men to be all they can be, by assisting the discovery of tools that help them find strength to transform difficulties into opportunities, enriching their lives both personally and professionally. I am a New Zealand Registered Psychotherapist with PBANZ, member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists and have a Masters of Health Science (Psychotherapy) First Class Honours. My research thesis was about the long term consequences of intimate partner violence for women. I am influenced and informed by both my professional experiences and my own personal journey, which has involved many challenges and celebrations along the way.