The vagina’s hit the big time. The Detroit Free Press just ran an article announcing that we as a nation have stopped whispering about the vagina.
In fact, according to our reporter we are in high vagina season! Suddenly everyone feels liberated enough to say the word at least once in almost every sit-com, late night or daytime talk show or reality series.
What sparked his call to me for comment was the latest Summer’s Eve TV ad, “Hail to the V” that boldly proclaimed the vagina is the ultimate source of power, the one that has sparked wars and driven men to commit murder.
There was Cleopatra, the very embodiment of hot sexuality, in front of a throng of V-crazed male worshipers while a few frames later a Renaissance princess watched knights joust to the death for her “hand.” What Kovanis wanted to know, catapulted the word vagina from taboo to marketing mainstream.
I told her it’s been a long time coming and way overdue. Ever since Hugh Hefner made the vagina a public event with Playboy Centerfolds and Eve Ensler made the it politically correct with “the Vagina Monologues,” there’s been a slow build toward acceptability in this country.
There have been plenty of roadblocks but women would not be stopped from reclaiming what is theirs–their body, their pride and their power.
It’s been a constant struggle to help women get comfortable naming their genitals. For so many the word vagina still is alien and ugly. But more and more women are determined to take ownership of their bodies and say it like it is.
It’s not “down there” as my 85-year-old mother corrected her doctor. “It’s a vagina. Got it?”
He may never get it but lots of people do and more of us will as the discussion about vaginas, women’s sexuality, desire and power continues to burn up blogs, Tweets (with the hashtag #Vagina, by the way) and FaceBook.
There’s a force of female social media activists who are not waiting for the “morality gatekeepers” to allow us to talk about these feminist issues.
I’m convinced that the unimpeded flow of female positive information on these channels is accelerating the process of vagina acceptance and all that it implies. Marketers and traditional media, the most avid social media watchers, are taking note. #vagina has arrived.
So my hat’s off to Summer’s Eve and God help me even the Kardashian sisters for helping to bust up the taboo, even if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing.
Personal preferences aside, the one clear message is that the vagina is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s is the seat of sex and power. The invitation is for women to own that power and ultimately to own all of themselves–their desires, their fertility, their sexuality and their pleasure.
Remember, throughout history, one of the surest ways to “claim a woman” has been through her vagina. If we can own our vaginas then we can stake claim to the rest of us. This is all about women owning their own bodies. And from where I sit, that’s truly what’s behind all the vagina talk.
If you’re opening up this page turner to get turned on, be warned.
Most of the subject matter in the 140-plus stories, poems, essays, and artwork that make up the 640-page anthology, Big Book of Sex is closer to Camus than cunnilingus.
Although there are some erotic and graphic passages, these gritty, compassionate, and sexy pieces prove that you can take sex out of writing but you can’t keep a writer from writing about sex.
What makes sex so interesting to write and read about is not the two or three lines, paragraphs, or pages of coitus, but what comes directly before, after, and in between them.
It is rare, in an anthology this voluminous, for the work to remain so consistently intriguing from beginning to end. What comes to the surface is the breadth of compassion each writer displays for the contradictions and varieties of life, and the characters at play in it.
The book is roughly divided into thematic sections; it moves from the human condition, reflected in sex, to the mundanity of the act, to the opposite of erotica, deviant behavior, sexual violence, some verse, and finally essays about sex or sexual behavior (my least favorite section).
“Maupin Row,” by editor Ron Kolm, depicts an educated couple living in a redneck shack that’s too cold for intimacy in winter. Through resourcefulness and sheer desperation, the couple turns to date nights in their pickup.
The male narrator writes: “We finally came up with an ingenious solution to solve our sexual woes. We’d hop into our half-ton pickup truck, drive to the East Tennessee State University parking lot, and fuck in the cab while keeping the engine running and the heater on.”
A classic line of sexual ennui comes from a short stanza in Hortensia’s verse, “Another Night In Gotham”:
After I come and
Before he does, I get bored
It’s a pleasure to come across a book so full of life with all its nuances. There’s all types of sex in the book: man/woman, gay/straight, black/white, agony/ecstasy.
Sexual energy is co-mingled, confused, craving, coming, cranky, and finally, at times, contemplative, and perhaps, at rest.
The Voice of
“Girls,” the Zeitgeist HBO series is the anti-”Sex and the City.”
SATC, for all its ballyhooed Women Talking Realistically About Sex, was glossy, aspirational television. The characters were supposed to be like us, but they got into predicaments we didn’t recognize.
They attended cocktail parties from which you would be turned away at the door. These were Escapist Tales of an Impossibly Glamorous Foursome, about whom the most realistic thing was the way they talked to each other.
Not so “Girls.” I could hardly stand it. The protagonist’s parents cut her off financially. She was working on a memoir that wasn’t going so well. She hooked up with ill-advised shirtless men.
People who expect to watch TV to escape are living in the wrong era.
I live to escape, and I watch television when I want to confront the harsh, awkward realities of life head-on.
Maybe it’s a millennial response to “Girls” to say, “It was too familiar. I disliked it.” “It was so true-to-life that I had to turn it off.”
We spend our days trying to avoid awkwardness. Then you turn on “Girls” and there it is, back with reinforcements.
I can’t imagine what you’d get out of the show if you weren’t a Millennial twenty-something struggling out of the damp blanket of parental over-support. And if you were, why bother watching it on television?
It’s awful! If I want realism, life is sitting right there. Why would I watch something just as rife with awkwardness as my day-to-day existence, featuring people of normal attractiveness and problems that resemble my own?
It’s like they think art is supposed to hold the mirror up to life. That is the last thing I want art to do. Who are all these three-dimensional female characters with problems that do not revolve around shoes? Don’t they realize they’re on television?
You don’t realize how common your experience is until someone else goes and makes an HBO series about it.
One of the underlying principles of Millennial life is that we are all unique and special. That is why we all go to great effort to purchase Studiously Whimsical ensembles at unheard-of thrift stores.
We all wind up in functionally identical Variations on Sweaters-and-Opaque-Tights. In the effort to Say Something Different and Be Someone Unique, we all wind up looking and sounding about the same.
‘Girls’ is a comedy based on discomfort. Yet that’s where most critically acclaimed comedy is situated now, in that space between characters who seem so impervious to suffering that you never worry about them and characters you care too much about to find their predicaments funny.
They’re the kind of neatly capitalized problems you read about in magazines. “Is Facebook Making Us Lonelier?” “What Happened To Dating?”
It’s the peculiar misery of people with nothing to be miserable about. The show is based on the ultimate nihilistic thought.
It’s the realization that our problems are a consequence of privilege, individualism and the narcissistic pool we’re all drowning in. ‘Girls’ should be subtitled ‘Lessons in Despair’. Go on, laugh about it.