We all have initiation rituals when it comes to female friends. Perhaps you like to welcome a new member to your friendship group by taking them to your favourite bar. Maybe you test the waters with a shopping trip. It may even be that you don’t consider yourself truly friends with someone until one of you has held the others hair as they puke into a toilet at Walkabout.
While all of these rituals hold a certain level of charm, my favourite way to test the friendship waters is by talking about my vagina – in detail.
Now some of you may be recoiling at the idea about hearing about my vagina (which, FYI, is very hurtful to her), but hear me out. By talking about my vagina, I am giving a gift to the other person, a free pass if you will. It is my personal belief that every woman on the planet, who isn’t already doing so, is desperate to discuss their fun-fun parts.
It seems to me that there are a lot of things conspiring to keep the vagina hidden. Tampon adverts never discus where the tampon is going, thrush creams like to discuss the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ rather than saying ‘slather it on your vag’, and even the vagina itself lends itself to this agenda. Unlike a penis the vagina leaves no bulge, there’s no hint from a clothed woman that anything exists between her legs. And so, as things go, the vagina ends up un-discussed with no one inquiring about what exactly vaginas do.
Because vaginas do a lot of things that don’t fall under the categories of: give birth, pee and bleed once a month.
Sometimes a vagina will become very sore, or itch, or go very dry. Sometimes they will leak or make a fart noise during sex (that’s called queefing children). And sure you can go to your GP with these problems (and you should), but you’ll never get that personal touch that goes beyond health statistics and a friendly nurse smile.
What a woman really needs when she’s having a bad vagina day is for another woman to turn to her and say: “ME TOO!”
This is why I like to offer this glorious avenue of conversation to the women in my life. Of course, you have to judge correctly whether or not your confession of feeling ‘yeasty’ today is going to go down well. This is not a conversation that you can just throw to the new supervisor at work after only meeting her 10 minutes ago. However, most of the time you’ll find that your vaginal confession will be met with a look of relief, like you’re finally unloading a secret that you’ve both been burdened by carrying.
“Sandra,” you could say. “I feel like my vagina is doing something funny today.”
“Oh mine gets like that all the time. That’s why I drink so much cranberry juice.”
Women experience pressure on a daily basis to be perfect, no more so than when it comes to sex. For a woman experiencing thrush or cystitis for the first time, it can feel like you’re abnormal, like you’ve let the side down. Vaginas aren’t supposed to be itchy; they’re supposed to be little fun holes of perfect joy, right? Wrong.
It’s only by opening up these avenues of conversation that we can relieve some of the pressure women face.
Because, ladies, you will get thrush. And cystitis. And a whole host of other problems (just wait until you get pregnant or menopause). But why hide this away like it’s some dirty little secret? I’m not saying that we should announce our lady-part woes at a board meeting, but let’s not perpetuate this sexual-goddess bullshit.
Talk about your vaginas, you can thank me later.