Sunday, 1 March 2009

Words fail me....

When Inanna gazed at her vulva she saw it as wondrous. She applauded herself. We do not know how it looked, but that is totally irrelevant for no two vulvas are the same. Each is as individual as the woman who possesses it. And I have never seen one that was not beautiful. And I doubt that that I ever will. Which is why I found this article very disturbing. In a UK television programme a young woman, concerned that her vulva is abnormal is referred by her GP for labioplasty. I have not seen the programme but the writer states that there was no medical justification for this procedure since the woman's vulva was well within the range of normality. The woman had not complained of any discomfort but was only worried that it looked wrong.

The writer is very concerned not only about the completely unnecessary operation but about the message it sends to other young women who watch the programme and decide that their vulvas are abnormal and ugly. If the account is true, I feel that Channel 4 have been almost criminally negligent in allowing the programme to air. Was it sponsored by some seedy cosmetic surgeon who sees a whole new market for his/her knife? If so, the programme had the desired effect, to judge from some of comments quoted from its message board. Here are a few:

’m 15 and i thought I was fine, but since I ve watched the programme I ve become worried, as mine seem larger than the girl who had hers made surgically smaller! it doesnt make any difference to my life, but i worry now that when I’m older and start having sex I might have problems?!

i saw the program and i think i have this i thought it was a little werd befor the program and now i dntno what to dooo….help someone

im 15 and i thought that it was actually quite normal but i was watching this programme and a girl had a promblem with this, and it has really made me parranode.

So young women, trusting that the television would not misinform them, have now been led to believe that they are abnormal and should be trimmed to fit some sort of ideal.

Sometimes, I think that we have come some way towards building up the self-esteem and confidence of young women. And then I read about crap like this being dished up.

I cannot find the words to express the anger I feel.

I am posting a link to the Vulval Health Awareness Campaign for anyone concerned that they may be abnormal.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the unnecessary nature of labioplasty. In America, this is becoming a more common practice and I suspect that the prevalence of certain types of modern porn in which denuded and over expanded women serve to inform the ignorant of human sexuality that's the chief cause. I have no problem with the porn industry and consenting adults. But when the mainstream tries to influence how women look or feel rather than acknowledge it's pure unrealistic fantasy for consumption, then I take issue.

Or perhaps the peer pressure of upper class girls and their mothers who've been taught that plastic surgery is the answer to solving whatever "problem" is whispered about in country club locker rooms that's the culprit. There is no reason for labioplasty but the aesthetic desire to look a certain way for someone else's view. The gaze must be fed it seems.

On a personal note, I've always thought my assymetrical labia was not the norm, that is, until I discovered the computer and educated myself about it. Betty Dodson has done a service for girls everywhere with her wonderful website depicting vulvas as numerous and of such variety as to make nature's flowers blush. (Link: I hope all girls and women who haven't discovered this by now will venture over and take a good look. I no longer think my genitalia is "abnormal" nor do I ever wish it to be downsized to proper proportions to meet someone's approval.

Reg said...

As a totally blind person, I'm frequently amazed, and often appalled, by the extent to which sighted people attach such importance to their appearance and what others think, or might think, of it.

I understand the pressure which bears down on people, but it's a sad comment on the state of things that a woman might fear that the future of a relationship might seriously be influenced by a physical detail such as love's labias lost, or the size of her breasts.

If I found myself in the intimate company of a woman so self-mutilated, I'm sure I would find the "unnaturalness" far more shocking than anything with which the woman might have been born.

In spite of my congenital flipancy, I share your anger Brian, and heartily agree with the comment so far.


Brian Charles said...


I will put the Betty Dodson link on the blog, thanks LM.

I agree with you Reg, I am sure that I have ever had an intimate relationship with a woman who has undergone genital modiification/mutilation but I have with someone that has had breast implants. All I can say about that was that they felt very strange and not at all erotic.