|Woman covering her pubic region.
I went to a Christian secondary school and we had ‘born-again’ teachers who couldn’t talk about sex because they felt it was sin. It was hard for them to even teach reproduction without blushing to an unhealthy hue of red.
When I was in JSS 3, I was selected for a seminar on sex education because I could talk about almost anything; even things people shied away from. The seminar was supposed to help our teachers combat their awkwardness by using the peer-education system. After the seminar, I became a peer educator and the girl to talk to about sex! Trust me, I had classmates coming to me ask all kinds of questions about sex that I was more than willing to answer.
Truth is, I am comfortable talking about sex…well, except with my parents because:
1. They are my parents and that is absolutely awkward and;
2. I am happy leaving them with the assumption that I know NOTHING about sex.
Anyway, today, I want to look at the drama around the female sex organ or better put, what we call, in broad terms, the vagina. Now, if you are not comfortable talking about sex, this is the time to log off because it is going to get progressively less comfortable. If you are okay, welcome to this gist.
I think many people feel I am a conspiracy theorist. I can see gender discrimination in almost any issue and knowing that I am almost always right, I am glad to be a conspiracy theorist. This might just be the proof you are looking for.
A while back, I saw a Vlog by Toke Makinwa where she talked about the ‘smell’ of the vagina. She urged her followers to use feminine hygiene products to get a good smell. She seemed to like the smell of cranberry juice because she kept saying women should smell like that. She even went as far as sniffing her friend, Osas Ighodaro, for what her ‘smell’ smelled like. I was embarrassed for Osas who looked equally embarrassed. Turns out Toke was just voicing what many people already thought.
Many people believe that a woman’s natural vaginal ‘smell’ is horrible. By many people, I mean many men and a few women. Some people even think that ‘smell’ is so bad that men shouldn’t go down on women; or better put, shouldn’t perform cunnilingus on women. Now, I am not saying that some women don’t get vaginal odor but in most cases, the natural ‘smell’ is not bad or horrible as many people think. When a woman has an odor down there, it usually is a product of poor hygiene, normal sweating, tight panties or an infection in and around the vagina. Sometimes also, during a woman’s menstrual cycle, her sense of smell is heightened, making her more able to perceive her vaginal ‘smell’.
This perception has led to many companies producing feminine hygiene products and deodorants for women. And advert companies have made it their goal to tell women that if they don’t smell like cranberry juice, men would be repulsed by them. Again, as it is with most advertisements, the aim is for a woman to catch her man and never about the woman herself. So the woman is expected to use these products to make the man happy and not to please herself. And because many women are all about getting (and keeping) their men, they have bought into the vaginal deodorant products and lie.
My friend was among the women who bought a product. She used it and smelled like lemons (or something like that). Next thing I know, she was walking funny. I asked her what was up. She said her vagina was on fire, having exploded in sores. She stopped using the product and took some antibiotics. The swelling went down, the sores disappeared and she was back to normal. She decided to try the product again. Girl called me and told me to never use any vaginal cleanser/deodorant in my life. She experienced fresh sores, pains and swelling. After that, she totally blackballed any of those products. Trust me to laugh at her a bit.
I know that many people will chuck it up to allergies or irritation but it wasn’t. She did all the pretests before she used it on her vagina. Thing is, the vagina isn’t built for all that chemical influx. The vagina/vulva is self-cleaning and has just the right amount of bacteria to ensure that everything works well down there. A simple cleaning with warm water is enough because the pH of water is neutral and as such, will not cause problems to the normal fauna of the vagina/vulva. So the issue of ‘smelling like cranberry juice’ should not come up at all.
Men also have their unique ‘natural smell’ around their penises and I don’t see them scrambling to use these products to ensure that women are happy with the way they smell. There are many men who would shame a woman for her natural ‘smell’ when they themselves have an odor down there. I still can’t understand why they feel this is okay.
Still on the fellatio/cunnilingus drama, I also remember a guy I was discussing with. He swore to never go down on a woman. I asked why. He blurted that it is disgusting. Yes, he used that word! He said women peed from their vagina and the proximity of the anus was a turn off. He said he tried to go down on a woman but kept imagining her pooping. I asked if he liked a woman to go down on him. He said it was a REQUIREMENT! Again, he used that word! He said he never fully enjoyed sex if a woman didn’t go down on him. I smiled and I asked him one question. Where do men pee from? That ended the argument. Recently, he told me he had gone down on his girl and her pleasure was so profound, he knew he just had to continue doing it. I told him, ‘you for continue dey sell fish na! See if your girl no go leave you meet better person wey care about her sexual satisfaction’.
Another drama around the vagina/vulva is the presence or absence of pubic hair. I remember having a conversation with one of my friends. He told me that he would not ‘eat’ a woman who is bushy. In his words, ‘I don’t like hair in my food’. I asked him if he was clean-shaven and he said no. I asked why it was okay for him to have pubic hair but he couldn’t stand it with a woman. He said the hair interfered with his cunnilingus and no matter how deep throated a woman was, she couldn’t take his little head all the way to his pubic hair. Good point but is that really an excuse?
Many women have reported more infections when they shave their pubic hair than when they keep it. This is to say that pubic hair is important to the protection of the vagina/vulva. The Telegraph wrote a piece titled ‘Pubic Hair: 8 things you need to know before you shave’ and it really explained why the pubic hair is important to overall feminine hygiene. With all this information, we still want to shave it all off because we probably don’t want our sex partners to have ‘hair in their food’. Again, we open ourselves to great risks for the chance to please a man (or woman) who will not feel the pain with us.
The best (or quite frankly, worst) part of this vagina drama is that the vagina is blamed for being the destruction of mankind, and in particular, the male specie. Our vaginas are so bad-ass that we can bring down a man with it or completely destroy his lineage. While I want to bask in the ‘power of the vagina’, I cannot understand the need to blame a woman for a man’s shortcomings just because she slept with him. My worry then is, why is the vagina only good enough for destroying men and not good enough to build them up? Why does a man take all the accolades when he does well but transfers all the blame to a woman when he does wrong? Why is it that when a man is philandering, they say he is thinking with his little head and easily let him off the hook but when a woman has the same urges and indulges in them, she is a whore? Can’t a woman think with her little ‘head’?
I remember another friend who said he must marry a virgin, even though he is the biggest playboy I know. I got into it with him and his excuse is that the sex organs are different. For the penis, it ‘goes into’, is ‘put into’ or ‘enters’ into a hole while the vagina is the hole. In his view, because of the vagina ‘accepts’, ‘takes in’, or ‘receives’ the penis, it makes having multiple partners different for men and women. Please, does anyone understand his logic? If you do, please help me understand abeg.
In the end, it seem that the vagina is an important part of society which serves as the major focus of men and women alike. No wonder there is so much drama around that female sex organ.
Women, you vagina is yours to treat as you see fit. If you want to use feminine hygiene products, do so because you want to smell like chocolaty mint (or whatever your favorite smell is) and not because you want to please a sexual partner. The same goes for removing your pubic hair and choosing your sexual partner(s). If you are also comfortable with your natural ‘smell’, don’t let anyone tell you that you have an odor because you don’t smell artificial. If you want Don King, shaved-on-the-sides, Brazilian or dyed pubic hair (I heard there is a trend like that) then by all means, do you! Just make a decision that defines you, knowing the risks and positives of whatever choice you make and accepting that your vagina rocks!
My only advice is that you keep your sex organs clean, wear beautiful cotton panties, change your pads at least every 4-8 hours, don’t scratch and in that moment when your pH level is thrown off balance, resulting in an infection, promptly seek medical help and treat that infection!
And men, please, change this ideology that you have a say over what women should do with their vaginas. You don’t!