Lieutenant Professor Olga Rockenstein (name changed, but barely) stood before the Sexuality of Women class like a bulldog personified. “Here we are going to talk about SEX!” she said. “Vaginas. Clitorises. Ovaries. STDs. Bisexualism. Lesbianism. Female sexual pleasure. Gender bias. Sexism. Sexual violence. Rape. And we are going to talk respectfully. If you can’t handle it, there’s the door.”
The small-town college classroom fell silent, including the formerly snickering male I’d heard reference the “easiest A” and “best class ratio” ever. Of the forty-plus students, females outnumbered males three to one the first day. By the second class, two guys remained. (The professor later admitted that she plays her “militant lesbian card” on day one to
intimidate weed out the non-serious.)
Before that class, I’d never spoken openly about sexuality or heard another speak so candidly about issues I quickly deemed vital. Unlike my grade school sex ed. classes, which emphasized erections, menstrual cramps, intercourse and abstinence, Rockenstein taught us to respect, understand and celebrate our bodies. It was about dang time.
Early in the semester, she assigned Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. After paging through the poignant true story collection, I went home and decided to check out my own vagina—as in look at it, for real.
I sat before my bedroom wall mirror, legs open wide, dumbfounded; I nearly had to force my gaze “down there.” Once I did, tears filled my eyes; I wasn’t horrified or awestruck, but sad. Had I really gone nearly two decades of life without so much as a glance? My gyno and boyfriend knew more about what laid beneath me than I did…
Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then.
Vagina derives from the Latin word for sheath, or the case for a sword. Some women are understandably offended by the term, taking vagina to mean a case for a penis or harmful object. (There’s nothing wrong with housing a penis, obviously—but our lady parts are so much more than that!) I personally feel that vaginas encase our female sexual pleasure centers, and there’s a lot of power there.
Whether we call them vaginas, va-jay-jays, pussies, coots, twats, boxes, girly bits, lady parts or nether regions, our vaginas are beautiful components of our bodies, sexuality, relationships and health. With Valentine’s day approaching, I thought it was an ideal time for Girl Boner to pay tribute.
10 Fabulous Facts About Vaginas
1. Vaginas facilitate pleasure. The clitoris, a tiny organ just inside the vaginal lips, has over 8000 nerve endings exclusively dedicated to female pleasure. (We gals luck out in this regard; the penis only contains 4000.)
2. Va-jay-jays are resilient… “The vagina has an incredibly rich blood supply which promotes rapid healing, even after injury or childbirth,” Dr. Alyssa Dweck told Shape magazine. The same goes for the insertion of large penises and sex toys.
3. …capable and strong. Vaginal muscles are our reproductive system’s quads, supporting everything from the ability to tighten during sex to urinary control. While they gradually weaken with age and childbirth, we can keep and regain strength using kegel exercises and sex-ercise (routine sexual play).
4. Excited vaginas grow. Vaginas average 3 to 4 inches in length but can balloon out to up to twice the size when sexually aroused, according to Dr. Lissa Rankin.
5. Vaginas love healthy food! A diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats helps keep the vagina healthy, while preventing dryness. (The same foods make way for a healthy libido.) Dr. Laura Berman recommends drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol, soft drinks and coffee for added perks.
6. Pussies appreciate play. Sexual play solo or with a partner helps minimize stress, vaginal dryness and libido lulls. Masturbation is particularly important for managing menopause symptoms, says Berman, as well as for learning what we most enjoy.
7. Vaginas self-clean. Consequently, physicians discourage douching, which can disrupt the balance of healthy microorganisms that protect against harmful bacteria and infections.
8. Each vagina has its own unique smell, based on a variety of factors. For the most pleasant aroma, practice positive hygiene and eat namely healthy foods, including sweet fruits. Cranberry juice and probiotic sources, such as yogurt and kefir, may be particularly helpful.
9. Vaginas house the G-spot, the area known for the producing the most powerful orgasms. “The G-spot can be found by inserting your index finger into the vagina with palm facing upward and making a ‘come here’ motion with it,” says Dweck. “It may take some practice to connect with your G-spot, but it’s so worth it.”
10. Routine coot stimulation helps us think sharper, according to Dr. Patricia Bloom. It’s also linked with boosted longevity. (Long live Girl Boners and all who embrace them.)
Girl Boner Challenge:
Whether you’ve done so before or not, take time to observe your vagina in a mirror or camera image. Journal about your thoughts, or write it a love letter. V-day is near, after all. ♥
Have you observed your vagina lately? What terminology do you prefer? Which fact strikes you most?
If you haven’t yet signed up for the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest II, which takes place next week, you still can. I’m also happy to announce the brand spankin’ new Girl Boner Facebook page! Pop by and “like” it to stay fully in the GB loop. The vagina party’s already begun…
Rob Ryder says
For all the knocks on sex ed in schools, it’s really working – both my boys have more knowledge about the physicality of sexuality than I ever learned. And they’re comfortable talking about it.
August McLaughlin says
That’s huge, Rob. I’m happy to hear that, and wish the same was the case for all youth.
Jess Witkins says
Love this post! And I’m really missing The Vagina Monologues now. I’ve been thinking about it a lot with V-Day approaching. I performed in the play four years running, all through college. I even climaxed to the role of “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.” But I also read the part of the “Vagina Workshop” where the woman looks at her vagina for the first time. All the pieces are so moving and inspiring.
Another great read for you: That Takes Ovaries! Very inspiring tales from women who have overcome abuse, learned their self worth, and honor their own heroines in life.
Great post, August! Happy V-Day!
August McLaughlin says
You had the orgasm-on-stage role? So fabulous, Jess. I miss the production, too, and found the whole work incredibly powerful.
I’m ordering That Takes Ovaries pronto. Thanks for the ongoing support, love! Happiest V-day to you.
David N. Walker says
When I was your age, this discussion would never have taken place, nor would anyone have printed an essay on the subject. I wonder how many people would have had richer lives all these years if we had had such discussions.
August McLaughlin says
Very insightful, David. I imagine we’d have a much happier, healthier, success-filled culture. While work remains, the world has definitely progressed in these regards.
I didn’t believe there really was a g-spot – um, until I found it one day, accidentally – aw, lawdy.
Love your blog – I read them all even if I don’t always come by to comment. I think you are kickass! You make me feel braver, too, to be able to talk about sex and sexual power and just POWER in general.
August McLaughlin says
Good for you, Kat! Talk about a happy accident.
I can’t tell you what those words mean. Thanks so much for the support!
*smiling warmly at you*
I agree with David. A lot of my problems probably would not be problems if I had been able to talk to someone(s) who were open and knowledgeable on the subject of sex, vaginas, and penises. What I learned during my first three decades was either on my own or wrong (or both, unfortunately). These last couple of decades have been well worth waiting for. My readings and, um, study of G-spot stimulation has been happily received.
Inion N. Mathair says
Education about sex and sexuality is so important, especially in this sex-crazed world. So many times I see things exaggerated or misleading and it’s posts like this that really help women who don’t fully understand their bodies. Great post, August.
K.M. OSullivan says
Call ’em like you see ’em. I have the only vagina in the house so much of our conversations involve penis, testicles, etc. Yes, education is key, regardless of gender. Great post. (P.S> I hate Oprah for introducing the word Va-jay-jay to our vocabulary).
Raani York says
I have given you the Most Influential Blogs 2012. If you’d go to my blog post and have a look at it…
The rules are very simple and easy to follow.
Well done!! I think I gave it to the right person and writer!!
Tameri Etherton says
When I lived in L.A., my friend took me to a live art show where we got so see a woman’s vagina live on stage. It was fascinating. After the audience stopped twittering and giggling, we were invited up to take a look at her cervix. It was a life changing moment for me, but it took about 20 years for the effect to take hold.
Now about that masturbation and menopause thing… well now! That’s got my attention.
Jenny Hansen says
I went to college in Columbia, Missouri (a much smaller town than where I grew up) and was blessed to enroll in a Human Sexuality course my second year.
The first day were were given a diagram of the male and female anatomy and asked to label it. When we turned in our pages by passing to the left, I was SHOCKED to realize the gal to my right didn’t know where her Fallopian tubes were. That wasn’t uncommon in mid-America in the late 80’s.
I only missed three points in the entire course, and I changed my major over it. Sex Ed was definitely my “happy place.” *fist bump*
Christine Ashworth says
What an awesome post! Thanks, August. I’ve never seen The Vagina Monologues (I KNOW!), but now I think I’ll pick up a copy, and catch it the next time around.
I agree, women need to talk out loud about these things. If we had been talking all along, I might have noticed that I had uterine fibroids oh, maybe ten years beffore I DID notice – and I might still have my uterus. But there you go…
Kristy K. James...Living, Loving, Laughing says
I grew up in a family where even the mention of the word ‘sex’ was enough to cause three-alarm blushes to spread like wildfire. As for naming body parts? Yeah, not. Well, except for my obnoxious adolescent brothers, and if anyone has noticed a friend (or two) who refer to me as Jjaye (or just JJ)…I owe that lifelong nickname to them.
That being the case, the only other thing I can say is that my favorite letter of the alphabet is….G.
Another great post, August. The only sex ed classes I ever had were called ‘health,’ and that was almost as bad as any discussions about it at home.
Karyl Cunningham says
“The professor later admitted that she plays her “militant lesbian card” on day one to intimidate weed out the non-serious.”
That actually seems a bit of a shame. The non-serious are some of the ones who most need to learn that respect, I’d think.
“We gals luck out in this regard; the penis only contains 4000.”
Uncircumcized? Just curious because there are a LOT of those nerve endings removed in that process (which is part of why I don’t feel like we should be doing that until the guy is old enough to consent to it, after knowing what that actually means – that and OUCH).
Some people still try to say the G-spot doesn’t exist. Supposedly they’ve done studies via survey of women who say they (or their partner) haven’t found theirs… I say keep looking. Let’s just say my other half has never had a problem in that department… I had trouble finding it. He didn’t. LOL
I did NOT know about the sharper thinking thing… wow that’s one more reason I feel dumb lately (depression and constant illness have caused more than a bit of a lull – he’s working on finding something stable/more permanent than the current chasing-down-his-own-work consulting spiel so he can get me the heck outta the situation that’s causing it all – right now it still does not feel sensible for me to give up my full time job).
As for observing… I’ve always been nosy by nature so as soon as I learned that there was something down there I was trying to get a look. Enter the digital camera and I was the girl who freaked out my GYN by printing out photos and bringing them in when I thought something might be up. I thought I was being helpful. LOL I never have been so great at the social norms.
But initially I had to learn more from my mom than the school gave us – I was a victim of the “if you have sex you’re going to get a bunch of diseases and die, unless you’re married then that’s a magic cure unless he’s not a virgin then you’re going to burn” version of sex ed. They never actually told us what sex was. My mom was a bit ticked at that.