Love and Labias
I have never really paid much attention to my labia. I would be lying if I said I knew what purpose it served. I have never really stopped to affirm or appreciate my vagina, let alone my labia.
But, my vagina deserves some respect: it has allowed me to push through it an incredible human life. It has allowed me pleasure and intimacy with my partners, but, even in those things I don’t stop to think about it. I think about how amazing my body is, the human body is, as a whole but I don’t have a connection to my vagina.
That’s why I was surprised at my reaction earlier this week, when a doctor told me they would have to remove a piece of my labia. All I wanted to do was cry.
I had gallbladder surgery in 2009 and unless I see the small scars, I forget I had the surgery- I don’t miss my gallbladder. But, I found myself sitting with tears in my eyes in the doctor’s office staring at this woman who was rather cavalier about the chunk of labia she wanted to cut off of me. I was hoping to see sympathy on her face like when a man gets hit in the balls, all the other men in the room cower and go “oooohhhh.” I get that this is her job, I am probably not the first one to leave a piece of my labia in her ER. Nevertheless, I was looking for some solidarity.
At first, I was more worried about the pain and the level of invasiveness I felt with regard to the procedure. But, when she explained that “cosmetically it will be noticeable,” my throat clenched. Why did I feel like someone was taking a part of me, when I am not even totally sure what function my labia serves? Yes, I am in a loving and committed relationship with a man who will love me no matter what I look like. But, I found myself thinking about our swinger lifestyle. I found myself worrying that the procedure would make such a noticeable difference in me that it might be off-putting to new partners. I wondered if the fear of it would keep me from pursuing new partners. I am finally allowing myself to feel and explore just how interested I am in women. On one hand, I feel my female partners would be more understanding, on the other hand, they may have more of an idea what they are looking at, and may be more inclined to notice if something was different.
I recently watched this incredible documentary, where a woman interviews other women considering plastic surgery to reduce the size of their labia. Before they get the procedure, she recommends that they go to an artist who does molds of the vagina. This particular artist then does a cast of the woman’s vagina and places it next to all of the other casts, combining them as one big work of art. It was really good for the women in the movie to see that no vagina looks the same. Some of the women realized that what they thought made theirs look so different from the next vagina, was simply one variation of beautiful. I had no idea watching that movie three weeks ago, that I would be faced with a similar revelation.
I find myself once again reminded that my gender, my femininity, does not come from anatomy. My vagina is an important part of me, but it doesn’t make me who I am, it doesn’t make me a woman. I like to think I am a fairly enlightened person, but I still easily fall into these gender traps.
So today, I pledge to affirm my vagina, as it is now, and as it will be during and after this procedure. My vagina is strong, it is a survivor, and that I believe, is most certainly a feminine characteristic.
In case you are interested, the documentary I referred to in this blog is called, The Perfect Vagina. It can be viewed for free online from Documentary Heaven.