Yesterday I posted this lovely photo on my Facebook page for The Rise of Eve. Yep, those are vulva cupcakes, representing a mere 35 faces of the beautifully varied, infinite expressions of the female genitalia. (I don't know where this photo originally came from, but it's been circulating on Facebook). For me, this photo evokes reverence, respect, celebration of both femininity and diversity, creativity, and playfulness. I love it.
I had no idea that it would attract so much attention nor evoke such a shitstorm as the day went on.
The first handful of comments that rolled in felt supportive and accepting. These comments were made mostly by people I know, people who've already "liked" my page and therefore are generally respectful.
And then, because the content on this page is public on Facebook, it reached all sorts of different people and places (even as far as Vietnam!) and it started attracting a different kind of comment. I've deleted the most heinous of these comments, including, "What do you call the useless skin around the vagina? A woman." That one stopped me dead in my tracks.
That's when I remembered---really, viscerally remembered---just how poorly the feminine and the most sacred sites of our bodies are often treated. (I say remembered because I'm blessed to live mostly in a community of women and men that're pro-feminine).
These comments reminded me that a large segment of the population, male and female both, regards female genitals as shameful, disgusting, dirty, dangerous, malformed somehow, or simply a source for degrading humor. As a woman, I've felt the painful impact of this. One of the most sacred parts of me not only not seen for what it is, but instead abused? Fuck. Ouch.
I've sat with many a woman who believes there's something wrong with her. Who wonders whether her genitals actually work how they're "supposed to." Who's ashamed of her body. Who has somehow absorbed the message that her genitals are gross, smelly, or bad. Who thinks she's ugly "down there" and who doesn't even feel empowered enough to use real and accurate terms to describe her genitals because she's too ashamed. Who actually doesn't know how unbelievably sacred, beautiful, powerful, and good she is.
This is tragic. And heartbreaking.
We live in a world where the feminine everywhere---in human or animal form and in the wilderness---is chopped down, littered, poisoned, degraded, and abused. Women are undergoing dangerous procedures to alter their bodies to fit some sort of unrealistic mold. There are more than enough examples of this type of behavior, so I could go on. But. Here's the deal. These are the girls and women who go on to carry and then raise our daughters and sons.
So, what we do to the feminine, we do to all beings.
This has got to stop. But how? When I stood up to the people making these comments, I not only spent nearly 10 minutes figuring out how to do it without shaming them, but then when I did comment, I was met with a suggestion that I deserved a slap in the face (among other things. I deleted that comment).
OK, so I'm not going to change the people who made these comments or make them stop. But what I can do, and what we can do is celebrate our bodies. Teach our daughters (and sons) that their bodies are sacred and beautiful. Break out the mirror and have a reverent and not-judgemental look. Let people know where you stand and that you're not ok with misogynistic comments or jokes. Revel in the pleasure possible in your body. Stop hiding your sexuality and live in the world as the lover you are. Dance. Love yourself for who you are and what you've been through. Add your voice here. Pollinate the world with your love and celebration of the feminine. Do your internal work to let go of your own sexual shame. Breathe.