Whose Genitals are They Anyway?

This evening, on my usual trawl of the internet, I came upon an article and some lovely animation, a trailer for a documentary called Centrefold, by two filmmakers named  Ellie Land and Siobhan Fenton, and sponsored by the Wellcome Trust:

It certainly isn’t a new thing, and neither are a LOT of surgeries related to female genitalia. There are labiaplasties, vaginoplasties, hymenoplasties and probably a handful of others I’ve never even heard of.

In India and other South-East Asian countries, hymenoplasties are said to be the ‘bestsellers’ of the plastic surgery world – specifically because of their obsessively patriarchal, misogynistic societies that somehow put a value on a woman’s purity and virtue by her virginity, or lack thereof.

I have written and ranted excessively about how disgusting, archaic and retrograde I find the entire concept of ‘arranged marriage’, [because, yeah, instead of being in love and in a relationship and knowing somebody, let’s just look through a bunch of photos and a CV of sorts to decide with whom who you must have sex and spend the rest of your life, BRILLIANT!]  but the fact of the matter is that it continues to happen. Somehow, the people entering these marriages seem to think somebody else’s past is their business.I cannot locate an online version, but I read an article in last Saturday’s edition of a local paper about men ‘breaking off marriages’ with women after ‘finding out their past on Facebook’. The writer also very kindly mentioned in his closing paragraph how ‘women who are looking to get married, beware of what you post online’.

There seems, somehow, to be a price on a woman’s virginity here, something that people think needs to be preserved, as some sort of gift to a man. People have varying views on the whole virginity issue, but in my humble opinion, if you are mentally and physically ready (read – not an underage, pre-pubescent young child looking to have some sort of cool ‘experience’), it is nobody else’s business who you sleep with and why. It does not matter whether you are in a relationship with this person or not.   By all means, if you are not in a monogamous relationship with somebody else, and neither is your sexual partner, do what you may.

Nobody has any right to call you anything – a slut, a hussy, or if you’re a guy, a ‘man-slut’ or a ‘man-whore’ or any of the many eloquent terms people come up with. It does not matter if it’s a ‘one-night stand’, a ‘two-night stand’, or a ‘one-hour stand’ even.
If you want to wait until you’re married to somebody you love and then have sex with them, that is, again, your own business and nobody else’s – this only holds true, however, as long as the views are your own, and not some ideal society has somehow indocrinated into your head or conditioned you to believe.

Sadly, in these cultures, it is not just the men who believe the women they are going to marry need to be, um, pure. The women do, too:


Why should it ‘soil her married life’???

Not sure what is sadder here, the girl’s attitude or that the man answering these queries calls himself a ‘sexpert’ – he has also advised homosexual people to ‘get married if you think you can satisfy a woman’. ‘Expert’ advice indeed, good sir.

That was just one small example of genital surgery, which in itself is not really ‘small’ at all. The latest craze on the block is labiaplasty – as the name suggests, it is surgery to improve the appearance of your labia. What they essentially do is chop off the skin you think is ‘extra’.

There are women who have genuine congenital defects, like problems with their uteri, fallopian tubes,vaginas – issues that affect their reproductive systems and/or general health. Most women who opt for labiaplasties, however, do not fall into this category – instead, they do it to “enhance the beauty of their vulvo-vaginal complexes.”

These women are unhappy with the way their bodies look, which is not exactly a new thing. Entire industries run on insecurities – cosmetic industries, clothing industries, food industries, slimming products (I could go on and on and on).

Women in India are told their skin is not ‘light enough’, and I’m very, very sure that India is the world’s BIGGEST market for fairness creams – check out my entry on those at this link.

The focus is always on female appearances, and less about the internal workings of anything at all – more than half the adverts out there for weight loss involve liposuction and/or some sort of invasive or non invasive surgery, body sculpting, fancy lasers or whatever the hell they use, or crash dieting.  If you really ARE overweight, it is less about dropping ‘x’ dress sizes or inches and more about being healthy, which is less about having a tiny waist and more about having the stamina to exercise, and not having the cholestrol clogging your arteries as thick as the Berlin Wall (and they demolished that). It’s about feeling strong and energetic and generally being able to function better. If you feel like your looks matter to you and they’ve improved, good for you, added bonus.

Except the priority is ALWAYS how it looks and not how it works.  Suddenly, the focus seems to have shifted from beaten-to-death body parts like faces and tummies and ‘stumpy legs’ and ‘saggy breasts’ (those products will be around as long as humankind is), and is now on genitals.

A recent ad in India advertised a feminine hygiene wash, which for Indian markets is a rarity. Vagisil and Summer’s Eve are two products I have never seen on Indian shelves. Lubricant, too. Come to think of it, there’s only the one brand of tampon sold, too. I’d love to know if this is an economics/import issue (which I sincerely doubt, as I see all sorts of products imported from all over the world in stores two minutes down my street), or just the fact that India seems to have an issue with anything sexual. (Because our 1.2 billion strong population got there without the assistance of any sexual organs whatsoever.)

The latest craze is having your labia snipped and stitched to your specifications. After all the images of the Klums and Bundchens and Kerrs and Crawfords with their flat stomachs and gravity-defying breasts, our attention must now be focused on the women in porn, the women who are supposed to be our ‘ideal’ for what our genitalia look like. Whatever you do not possess naturally, a surgeon can give you, no?

It’s not about how the sex is, or whether they’re affecting your health, but only that they do not ‘look right’.

Just in case there was an insecurity that wasn’t already being preyed upon, we’ve got a new one. There is a problem with your bits, ladies. Unlike the men, who are told their bits are not ‘big enough’, we’re told ours are too big!

Don’t you shudder to think what might happen if you don’t have ‘perfect looking genitals’, whatever those are? You might not look like a woman on the centrefold of a men’s magazine.

You might actually be with somebody who cares about you for YOU, and not what your nether regions look like.

Who wants that, though?

Of course, this also has to be hairless. We must subject ourselves to hot wax and lasers or any other way is there to get rid of it because being natural is absolutely terrible. (And a million other reasons I will delve into – they deserve an entry all their own.)

So on one hand, there are young girls and women all over the Middle East and Africa, and some immigrant tribes around the world, who are forced to undergo various degrees of genital mutilation, the most common of which is also by far one of the most gruesome, depressing, inhumane things I have ever read :

Type III mutilation involves  removal of all or part of the inner and outer labia, and usually the clitoris, and the fusion of the wound, leaving a small hole for the passage of urine and menstrual blood—the fused wound is opened for intercourse and childbirth.

On the other hand, there are women who will pay through their noses to voluntarily have this done, in their quest for a ‘designer vagina’.

Meanwhile, I (and several others) are still waiting for a world where people are identified for who they are, and not the genitals they possess, irrespective of their shape or size.

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About abohemiansrhapsody

Writer, reader, musician, crossword puzzle addict, social scientist, funnywoman, traveller and Beatlemaniac extraordinaire, I enjoy the first of those things the most. Editor and writer at Sportskeeda.com, loving what I do and doing what I love. Formula One, tennis and running editor, Ayrton Senna fan. I write about society, culture, feminism, politics, economics, film, advertising, of things that affect the world at large. I love to sing, and play the piano and a bit of guitar. I also love taking photos. Of anything and everything. My food, a dog on the street, a panhandler, a piece of trash. If I likes, I strikes. Whenever and wherever the inspiration strikes. When I'm not writing news articles, blogs and essays, I like working on a bit of fiction. You can find my short stories and other general musings at: www.anuthebeatlegirl.blogspot.com or http://anuthebeatlegirl.wordpress.com My photography and poetry at: http://www.schizoiddeviant.deviantart.com And my music at: http://www.youtube.com/anu2601

4 responses to “Whose Genitals are They Anyway?”

  1. Rajtilak says :

    I am flabbergasted! I know there would be numerous women who would love to go through this post, not for the sake of understanding the underlying meaning but just to earn what’s hot in the market so that they can subject their “poor” body to those -plastys. And most men would go through this post too, just to find your email address so they can send you fraandship request on Facebook, if you can write such bold stuff you must be one hot woman.

    Sarcasm apart, its often blamed that women do these for men, but I’ll tell you, most of the times all a man wants is a hole to fuck (ofcourse there are exceptions but they prove the rule) and they would hardly care about the looks of their woman’s labia and clitoris because half of them can’t even spell these properly. The truth is that these are mostly done by women of the higher strata of the society because they have too much cash and they don’t know how to spend it. So they spend it on things like these. Also it sounds quite hep to them, just like feminism and extra-marital affairs. Now please don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about Indian women, or Women for that matter, I am only talking about women who actually go through such pain for nothing.

    Honestly, I don’t understand these as I don’t understand why Michael Jackson tried to turn himself into a white man all the while singing Black or White. Anyway, nice writeup.

    • abohemiansrhapsody says :

      I giggled at your comment. Don’t agree with all of it, but definitely with most! I, like you, don’t think that women do this ‘just for men’. It’s less that and more the media marketing to them some ideal of a body they must have – ‘half of them can’t even spell these properly’, hee 🙂 I’m quite certain some of them did it because it’s hip, too.

      Glad you liked it, thanks! 🙂

  2. SmallTownfeminist says :

    Wow..very informative post. I was unaware of all the ‘plasties’. I giggled at the term, ‘designer vagina’; found very humorous. But the point you make is very valid: when women in some parts of the world are fighting the practice of genital mutilation, a new trend of having a CHOICE of ‘plasty’ has emerged due to patriarchal mindset that gives importance to virginity.

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