While many women are self-conscious about their bodies, feel too fat, or don’t like certain body parts, it could be safe to say that nearly all women feel embarrassed or ashamed, even afraid, of their bits ‘down there.’ The mysterious power of the elusive vagina is something hidden by undies and shoved out of sight.
If you were to wander onto a nudist beach, you’d most likely spot men proudly displaying their wares for all to see, yet while many women are comfortable with their bared breasts, they would not be flaunting a wide open vulva to the world. The vagina, it seems, is still taboo, verboten, and hidden. Sharon Stone’s infamous underwear-less leg-crossing scene from ‘Basic Instinct’ in 1992, is one of the most flagrantly potent and discussed movie shots ever. But perhaps time stood still, as even today, with all the free sexual expression, we are still not encouraged to love our vaginas.
Women have their knickers in a knot over their fannies and we most certainly don’t seem to imagine our vaginas as being beautiful. If we can’t love this most sacred aspect of our female bodies; the gateway for pleasure and sexual intimacy, the miracle of procreation, and the place where our precious children emerge from, we are rejecting our deepest femininity and the essence of our feminine core.
Tantric therapist, Layla Martin, was inspired to capture the gulf between how a woman sees her body, and the way her lover views it, so she started an unusual project: Your Vagina is More Beautiful Than You Think, where she invited women into a photographic studio to have their vaginas photographed.
For so many women not only do they not feel that good when they see their vagina up close in a mirror, but they also have this shame that they should think its beautiful and amazing … and that story gets mirrored in how we relate to our own bodies. ~ Layla Martin
When UPLIFT shared the interesting film – which you can watch here – on social media and our website, it was met with a storm of comments from people decrying it as soft porn and vulgar, to women sharing their discomfort and shame about their vaginas, to praise from some men. Over 600,000 people watched the film, and because of the controversial response we got from it, UPLIFT decided to interview Layla about what inspired her to create the project.
Why Are Women’s Genitals Shameful, and Men’s Not?
It harks back to the Garden of Eden and the ‘Adam and Eve’ propaganda; that women are the downfall of men and humanity, luring them away from what’s right and good.
It’s time to change our perspectives of this very natural and acceptable body part.
There are centuries and centuries of abuse, suppression, and oppression held in women’s bodies. And a lot of that violation is held in the membranes of our most sensitive and vulnerable body part, our vaginas. I believe the reason many women struggle with childbirth, and the radical openness and deep body connection that this takes, as well as why we have extremes of sexual expression in women, swinging from the overly sexually promiscuous expression to sexual repression, is due to the pain and trauma held in the tissues of our sexual organs. Anatomically and energetically we absorb and transmute energy through our vaginas. It’s a bit like a mysterious portal.
Outspoken feminist and comedian, Mandy Nolan, says women are scared of their twats. She commented:
It shocked me that women are so threatened by the thought that other women might like their vaginas because they feel they might have to like their own… I don’t know why we want to perpetuate this weird self-hatred of the vagina. I mean how shocking is it to like your vagina and to actually not be intimidated by someone else showing theirs?
Author and feminist activist, Zenith Virago, says it’s incredible we are even having this conversation in 2017 and that it’s a part of misogyny. She goes on:
As a dyke I am very familiar with vaginas. It’s the most sacred part of our bodies. It’s the giver of life. It’s magnificent. Women’s bodies, just in their entirety, are an incredible thing… We’re living in a patriarchal society. It’s not an evolving of a regular society where everyone is equal and men and women are contributing in equal ways. We’ve got the bastions of the patriarchy, like law, medicine, politics, religion, all completely dominated disproportionately by men. So women don’t stand a chance and they are growing up in that culture bombarded by manipulative marketing and media. Now we’ve got porn on our telephones and all of that and it’s a very difficult situation for young girls to see through that.
The debate about women’s bodies and objectifying women, or seeing them as just ‘vaginas’ is at the core of feminist thinking. And it has tragic ramifications. Today, more and more women are going under the knife in search of the designer vagina; with labiaplasty and vaginoplasty procedures becoming shockingly popular, especially amongst young women.
We explore the feminist aspects of the vagina and the controversial response to the film, with comedian Mandy Nolan, author and feminist, Zenith Virago and UPLIFT writer, Azriel Re’Shel in the below clip.
For more wisdom, hilarity, and entertaining views on vaginas, feminism, and sisterhood, you can listen to the full podcast episode here.