5 stories about the vagina we do not talk of
There is only one proper, acceptable word for the female sexual organ in the whole world, and that is the word “vagina”: a Latin loanword meaning scabbard. Vagina is a medical term with a serious tone, but all its synonyms sound childish, or even vulgar. We tend to avoid talking about it, even though perhaps everyone has a story that might have had a different ending, had we been able to talk about the genitals more openly. After all, the vagina is an organ that should be about giving joy and life...
At the age of 11
I used to study abroad for four years due to my parents' job, and the time I spent in Arizona showed me how kids all over the world struggle with the problem of talking about their body parts. Following the sex education class in fifth grade, my classmate Linda believed herself to be pregnant for at least half a year. The expert pointed out that a woman would not menstruate during pregnancy, and Linda did not yet have her period at the time. The young girl was terribly afraid of giving birth any minute for months: she had sleepless nights because of this, yet she never talked about her fears. Perhaps the weirdest thing about this story is not even that she got something wrong in class, but the fact that had no one to discuss her innermost feelings and thoughts with. On the other hand, no wonder she struggled to discuss her genitals: we barely have words for these things!
At the age of 14
When we were around fourteen, some of the more courageous girls kept talking about their private parts, comparing them to each other's. Emma was a brilliant, tall, strong girl, everybody admired her for her looks and outspoken, confident nature. When talking about our bodies, she once began to cry with silent tears. We had no idea what was going on, until – years later – she admitted the truth: at the time, she was incredibly ashamed of her red pubic hair. All the pictures she'd see were about young women with dark brown or black pubic hair, or completely hairless. For a long time, she used to think she was some sort of a weirdo for having reddish hair between her legs.
At the age of 22
I was twenty-two when I first had my whole body waxed, including the intimate areas. I was planning to sleep with my boyfriend at the time, and wanted to be perfect. “Wow, this is pretty thick, you could get lost in it for years!” - the beautician said, shaking her head. I'd been shaving my body for more than ten years, of course it got thick! In the end, I lost more skin than hair, but I did not lose my dignity at least. Nevertheless, did not have the courage to see a beautician for years afterwards.
At the age of 29
A workmate of mine died of cervical cancer, she was twenty-nine.I had the chance to see her turn into a skeleton, witnessed her losing her hair, and later her teeth, too. She was a mere shadow of herself, even though she was previously known to be a happy, carefree partygirl, the queen of the night, the dream of several men. It occurred to me much later that she never had a proper, happy relationship when she was healthy, however, in the shadow of death she seem to have found true love. They even got married with her boyfriend, and held hands as if there was no tomorrow. Emma did not only lose her womb by then, but also her vagina: the artificial vagina caused her more pain than joy. I remember her saying that if her clitoris needed to be removed, she would travel to Belgium to sign up for euthanasia. She died shortly afterwards.
At the age of 34
Anna had been trying to fall pregnant for more than four years, without success. Experts said she did everything fine: she led a healthy lifestyle, had great sex with her partner during ovulation, and there was no sign of organic disorder in the background. The 34 year-old woman cried her eyes out each time she got her period, so at the verge of depression, she turned to a psychologist. It was the first time she got to talk about a childhood trauma she never dared to face before: her uncle raped her when she was seven, and threatened her never to talk about the abuse, or else he would kill her mother. The young woman never talked about her experience before, so the psychologist helped her to deal with the trauma. The expert encouraged her to face the facts by opening up about the events to her entire family, which she did. Two months later, she had a positive pregnancy test in hand...
I often wonder what would have happened if these girls and women had the chance to talk about their bodies – and the feelings about their vagina – much earlier. Do you dare to talk about yours...?