HOW DO YOU CALL HER DOWN THERE
& THE TALE OF OPTIMIZATION
Here comes part 2 of the article CLITORAL REVELATIONS- Part 1: Shaming and not naming-a culturehistoric view on the clitoris. This time taking a closer look at how “clinical” language use and “intimate surgery solutions” tell us a well-marketed tale of adjusting and optimizing our supposedly incomplete bodies to an extreme extend and how education can again be an enlightening tool that leads us towards acceptance and harmony towards ourselfs.
Shaming and not naming
Until the late 19th century the term „hysteria“ referred to a medical condition that especially women suffered from „due to disturbances of the uterus“, the diagnosis defined by “an exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement“.
Don’t be so hysteric” someone might say and criticizing with it the expression of emotion or a woman simply speaking her mind. -A power structure to suppress and subordinate women to their legitimate place: the homely stove- unexpressed, subordinate, surpressed. Without it`s idealised meaning „hysteria“ is the literal latin translation for „uterus“ . Only in In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association officially changed the diagnosis. Until today the term is widely present in many languages. Clearly the word is insulting women and just one of many examples that depicts one of many insults through our so highly worshipped tool language.
Another interesting aspect or insecurity we discover when it comes to the question „how do you call HER down there?“ (Naming it: the Vagina). Conversations around sexuality are still accompanied by giggles, blushing and sadly little exchange at all on the topic. A million names are invented that often refer to animals or cute children-toys.The not-naming or shaming of specific parts of female genitalia can not only result in communication problems and insecurities during sex but also maintaining the awareness of this pleasure-part of our body at zero. Using specific terms can be powerful tools for women to communicate their desires to their confidants- specifically! It can start with „it`s good like this for me“ to „take two fingers,lick them and start softly to move up and down the shaft of the clitoris.“ (for example
When taking a look into modern biology books and even educational material for evolving doctors, a strong focus on reproduction is noticeable. As already described above,
“sexual organs seem to serve only the purpose of reproduction, which reduces the sexual act to pure functionality and doesn`t consider the dimension of pleasure that has a valid and beautiful right to exist and be talked about openly.”
It´s not surprising that existing, recognised knowledge about the female prostate and female ejaculation is widely not familiar to a majority of modern people- no matter what gender. If we were a pleasure-positive society we would maybe start calling this section of body parts „sexual organs“ or „pleasure organs“ in the first place as Freudenfluss.eV. is suggesting, instead of „reproductive organs“. Freudenfluss.e.V uses these reinterpretations of existing medical or moral terms to change the way we talk and think about sex and sexuality and to simultaneously change our mindset.
A tale of optimisation – Intimate surgery
How urgently our society needs this change becomes visible in the increasing number of intimate surgeries that are executed every year since the mid 2000s when so called „Vagina designers“ started offering their services.
– Intimate surgery is quite a new phenomenon in the world of aesthetic surgery and one that is most alarming.
The body ideal that vaginoplasty proposes is a very child-like look that comes embedded in a body ideal -„ the white women within heterosexuality- the symbol of timeless beauty. The websites of beauty clinics show thin, white, young women, their intimate zones covered by lily-white panties, a graceful floating cloth, or blooming flowers. This ideal is transferred from 12 year old to 80 year olds. Interestingly we don`t even get to see a single real vagina here. The advertising seems to constantly point into the direction of adjusting the female genitalia according to the penis of the partner. Unquestioned the websites promote self-evidently monogamy: the couple as the ideal that needs to be potent, capable of orgasm and OF COURSE heterosexual. We don`t see any variety in body types, sexuality and so on. The question arises why it is the female genitalia that needs optimization and male intimate surgery is not much talked about!
A commonly executed surgery is the „Labiaplasty“ -the diminution of the lips. Medical designations for certain parts of female genitalia are often misleading and result in negative image-making. One example is the term „small lips“ and „big lips“ for the labium. In healthy women it is very common that the inner labium, the so called „small lips“, jut out over the outer labium- the so called „big lips“. That often results in unsettling feelings in many girls and women that doubt the way their labia look is „normal“.The „Clitoridotomy“( “clitoral unhooding“) serves to reduce the size and the area of the clitoral hood and reducing „excess prepuce tissue“ and „Liposculpture“ moulds the pubic eminence.
„Virginity Surgery“ or „Virginity Repair“ is the surgical restoration of the hymen- a thin, elastic membrane stretched partly or completely across the entrance of the vagina. In the procedure a part of flexible skin extracted from the inside of the vulva is placed around the opening of the vagina. Supposedly it will rupture on the first penetration.Talking about the hymen again we`re back in the endless myth-section. In some cultures and mindsets exists the belief: a women who bleeds on the first sex is considered a proof of virginity (subtext: a women that doesn`t bleed had sex before and is “unpure” and shameful). Taking a closer look on the variety of female anatomies that exist, the assumption a women has to bleed on the first sex is actually really far from reality- many women simply don`t bleed, the hymens vary in size,shape and thickness and many women don`t even have one. Women are confronted with an enormous cultural pressure to fulfill their social role.
Another surgery with a more pleasure-oriented approach is the „G-Spot Enhancement“ via injection with the goal to sensitise the female genitalia. The topic „G-Spot“ causes friction in the the medical world. There`s split opinions if this spot even exists. The members of Freudenfluss.e.V network claim: „on closer look, it`s not even just a spot, but a wider plane, the erectile tissue that surrounds the urethra (lat: corpus spongiosum urethrae) that is highly stimulable“. Though it is questionable to promote the augmentation of that spot, as it puts pressure on women to have a particular sensation in a particular area.
I don`t want to deny that intimate surgery doesn`t also bring positive aspects and improvements of life quality for women. For some a particular anatomy feature has a functional impact in their sexuality. Other women suffer from a big volume of their labia that can cause physical disadvantages like painful wounds because of friction during riding a bicycle or wearing tight clothes. But what I find alarming is the implicitness these type of procedures are promoted. In a portuguese TV programme a plastic surgeon said: „These women who come to me CAN NOT participate in societal life, like going to the beach, because their natural anatomy shows and makes them feel uncomfortable and ashamed“ is not a sign of physical imperfection of the women but rather one of a society obsessed with aesthetics and ideas of a very particular type of beauty that negates diversity. The beauty clinics identify a clear problem and deliver an „easy solution“ which is most commonly surgery. The message: „You are the owner of a problematic body part. You should be an educated expert and should lead an emancipated, sexually active and enlightened life.“ Interestingly feminism is systematically used here to advertise.
“With the promise of finally being normal,
healthy and with the new designer pussy
sexually more capable of orgasm,
the advertisers sell a clever mix of information,
disinformation, medical necessity and play on
insecurities of already unsettled females.”
With the strategy to sell a procedure as a medical neccessity where there is none.
Intimate hygiene products – do we need them?
Not a surprise: Simultaneously with genital surgery a wave of new must-have hygiene products flood the market and picked especially women of all ages as their new target group. Promoted are disinfecting intimate hygiene products like washing lotions, intimate deodorants and highly perfumed panty liners in order to keep the genital area „fresh“ 24/7. Pelvic Spa`s are popping up that suggest the need to care for your „best piece“. This market not only sets new standards for our notion of hygiene but, like intimate surgery does, suggests that women walk with a problematic body part that is in need of optimization, that their bodies are „prone to disease“ if they don`t use the products whereas frequently the opposite is the case:
“an increased use of intimate hygiene products
unbalance the natural flora of the vagina
drastically, that is naturally balancing it`s Ph by itself.
Thereby the vagina is more sensitive to infection.”
The female genitalia becomes part of the medicalisation “the process by which human conditions and problems come to be defined and treated as medical conditions, and thus become the subject of medical study, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment.“(wikipedia). A tendency we can observe in many scopes of modern life.
I pose the question here: why are we actually interested in norming ourselfs, trying to press our bodies into a specific form? Is our need to fit in, to be a certain person, not dealing with what`s really there, that important for a fulfilled life? Or are we rather, by approximating our beings to a widely accepted ideal, supporting the functioning of society and capitalism? Wouldn`t it be more interesting and true to deal with what we have?
A key question for Freudenfluss.eV.: how can we as feminists offer alternatives to these strong markets that have such a big impact? The answer: only through transporting knowledge! The million – puzzy – project, executed by Berlin photographer Polly Fanlaff, is a photographic collection of most diversely shaped vulvas of women of all ages. It`s goal is nothing less than changing the notion of „a vagina has to look a certain way“. In women it is indeed a bit tricky to see this diversity because of the hidden character of the vagina. We don`t have that much access on looking at other vaginas as men have seeing other penises. „We also distribute questionnaires“ says Polly, to ask women about their vulvas
and sexuality. „We also do that to raise the statistics to work against female aesthetic surgery on the vagina.
We need education – what could that look like?
Since 2009 Freudenfluss.e.V. cater the PORYES-Feminist Porn Film Award Europe in Berlin. A jury nominates such movies that break with the norms of mainly sexist mainstream pornography and show instead positive sexual images. „With the PorYes Award, we are celebrating that there are beneath these conventional productions, also women, men and gender-friendly depictions. We don`t want to see a show of accomplishments a lá blowing, fucking, splashing – the tragedy in three acts“, says Méritt with a wide smile all over her face, emphasising repeatedly the importance of
diversity of sexual practices.
And how to display diversity in porn? By showing sex between different genders, ages, sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds and body types. To create friction that doesn`t live by normative standards (empty, often discriminating story +man-dominating-woman +in-out-in-out+climax +ahhhhhh) but a porn that is creative and caring.
“Porn that uses means like unusual camera perspective, shows communication between the protagonists, displays protected sex as well as insecurities and emotion that are essential part of human experience – to look at people more holistic, not as idealised Barbies and Ken`s with perfect bodies.”
To show that HE doesn`t need to have a never-ending boner to feel pleasured, that SHE doesn`t need to have the completely-shaved designer pussy and be submissive, that sex is not an achievement test and so forth. Méritt emphasises ironically that „it`s not necessary that one film shows all of these elements at once“.
We can guess on these qualities the dimension beyond pleasure that feminist porn wants to take: sexual education. (and to make fantasies come true
Freudenfluss encourages women to go into a positive exchange of knowledge, to found groups to talk about sexuality, women`s health, their bodies, fears and everything that comes with it.
„Switch off your own propaganda machine!“
In the end it`s our own responsibility to lead a real self-determined life with the bodies and minds we already have. To condition yourself positively to find yourself more beautiful with what you have!