Hands up who loves their vagina? Like, really loves it, as in would erect an enormous brass vulva the size of the opera house for all to worship in its glory if you could? Ok maybe that’s taking things a little too far. How about loving your lady bits so much you would be willing to have them photographed and immortalized forever in graphic detail in a book?
Well, 101 brave women did just that in what I’m touting as this year's essential coffee table/dinner party convo starter book, 101 Vagina. And I was lucky enough to be at the opening, ahem, I mean launch of this spectacularly controversial work of genital genius.
Created by Phillip Weiner, 101 Vagina is about all breaking down the taboos surrounding the vagina and exposing the shame many women feel about their womanly parts and sexuality in general. The pages are filled with beautifully shot black and white photographs of vulvas in all their glorious shapes, sizes, race and ages, with a personal story or reflection from it’s owner accompanying each photo.
And surprisingly, it was these stories that I found the most transfixing. Stories of hatred, of sadness and shame. Tales of clumsy sexual encounters and wonderful discoveries. Truths about the vulnerabilities and responsibilities that come with owning a vagina.
And almost all of these women shared aloud what most of us have all silently questioned ourselves, "am I normal?".
As I walked around the gallery, giant vaginas staring down at my date and I (you know you’re onto a good thing when your crush agrees to come to a vagina book launch!) I couldn’t help but ponder the often rocky relationship I have had with my own vajay-jay.
And we have been through some preetttty rougho times together.
Since I first discovered my vagina I have been in complete awe of her, but I have also been embarrassed and shamed by her. I have been scolded and punished for showing her on public transport. I have cried in pain and cried out in pleasure for her. I have felt scared because of her and hurt by our collective bad choices.
I have experienced relief and release and every now and then if I am realllllly lucky bursts of ecstasy. I have felt unsure about her, and yet reassured that she will never fail to let me know when she wants attention and when she needs to be alone.
We haven’t always got along, but as I get older and begin lying about our age we are much more comfortable with one another. I listen to her more. I make better choices for us both. I speak up when she is sore and hurting and I celebrate her pleasure without guilt.
I worry less about how she looks and what her latest haircut should be and worry more about figuring out all her hidden secrets. I am proud and respect her, and realise her value when before I would so easily forget. But not now; now she's my favorite body part and I can honestly say that yes - I love my vagina.
And I really, really hope you love yours too.
Photography credit: Ted O’Donnel/Bauersyndication.com.au