Going through old files tonight (I must stop doing this, I know), I found this email to which I never received a reply. It's so tragic.
Date: Mon, May 27 2002 10:14 pm
I suspect that you get a lot of spam, and with my email nickname being Bluebug you'll probably delete this without reading it. I believe in taking chances, and since curiosity is an overwhelming propeller of foolishness I can't help but write.
My name is Michelle Tribe, and you may remember me from your early school days in Woodstock. Specifically, we were together in Miss Lister's combined grades one and two class.
A recent event in my life made me reminisce about you to my partner. Unfortunately for you, "Peter *****" remains in my mind the character who stuck things up his nose. I'm not sure how exaggerated my memories are, but our history books will show that you stuck something up your nose at least once.
The point of this email -- despite being rather embarrassing for me as I'm allowing an incessant drive for an answer drive me near insanity -- is to ask you why. Why on earth does a child stick something up his nose?
Thank you for your time, and hopefully, for any answer you can supply.
Nik, the darling, took me to see the Vagina Monologues as a late Valentine's Day present. I love plays -- and despite being tired from an early morning at the gym -- I was happy to be there.
Of course I'm going to talk about it. It makes me happy to talk about the feminine mystery that lurks between my legs. It is the secretive something I have in common with about 51% of the world's population.
1. I don't agree with most of Nik's posting about this play. In fact, I'm a little disappointed of his too-quick dismissal of the societal importance of this play. To me, his wave-of-the-hand-ennui attitude is akin to a dismissal of the female sexual experience.
The third monologue is that of a senior woman, who describes an incident when she was sixteen. She experienced an orgasmic fluid explosion upon receipt of her first kiss. This terrified her (and her date), and she closed off her sexuality from the absolute fear and disgust she felt during this powerful female experience.
My heart broke to listen to this woman describe this denial of pleasure because of her lack of knowledge of female orgasms. My cunt, in contrast, has been a happy little cunt since I've been six, and I cannot imagine never again experiencing the pleasure of orgasm. Especially if I live another 40 years.
But I didn't know about female ejaculations either when I experienced my first at the age of 19. Luckily for me, I had a partner who was familiar with this gushing explosion, and he calmed me down after I thought I had wet his bed. "Smell it," he told me. "It's not urine." It wasn't. It smelled sweet, and my legs were still shaking from the intense physical experience.
I find our culture's portrayal of female orgasms expresses the misconception that a woman's pleasure derives solely from the ability of a man to drive his penis into her. "My penis made her come," the generic man brags. It has nothing to do with pleasing a partner so much as inflating the man's conception of his prowess. Which seems to somehow diminish the female orgasm. Look at IRCimages.com -- when there is a photo of a "sexy" woman, how many guys post the comment "I'd hit it"? None of them express a desire to sacrifice his pleasure to first pleasure the woman pictured, let alone maintain an intimate relationship with her.
Oh dear, I think I've descended into my own kind of bitter monologue. I'll try to get this back on track.
Getting back to the woman who experienced female ejaculation, it proves that women need to know more about the types of female orgasm and pleasure. There should be more of a culture of openness in women teaching each other how to cum, and all about the different wonderful ways of orgasming. We need to eradicate the virgin/slut duality that pervades the expression of female pleasure and accept that women love to cum just as much (if not more) than men do.
A friend of mine admitted to me when she was 30-something that she never had an orgasm. I felt saddened that she had never had this mind-blowing, incredible experience. Then, a few years later, she left her man for a woman, and learned about her own body and explored the orgasm. And she spent 10 hours one day -- TEN HOURS -- recounting to me her new beautiful sexual experiences. Her transformation was remarkable. She learned a new kind of respect for her body and for herself. I was so proud of her.
Every woman should experience such pleasure.
2. The misuse of the word vagina distressed me.
Yes, this is Michelle's trite diatribe about cultural labels for female genitalia. The vagina, technically, is the "innie sleeve" between a woman's cervix and labia. However, too many people misuse the word vagina to mean the vulva (which is the whole kit and kaboodle). Nik says I'm overly sensitive about this issue. However, my pal Periwinkle Parasol agrees with me. She writes: "That irks me too. I guess you can call it militant. If you want to, then I'm militant also. Pop culture hates the word vagina and is shocked by it, but chooses to use it incorrectly. I suppose you could write a thesis on that... is this clinical word used simply in ignorance or to incite or further promote disgust about woman parts?" From a paragraph on Wikipedia: "Calling the vulva the vagina is akin to calling the mouth the throat."
I think it is both ignorance and fear that leads to the mislabelling of "woman parts". I also think it stems from the misconception that sticking a penis into a vagina leads to orgasm. (It usually doesn't. It's the clitoris that feels good, fellas!)
So when the Vagina Monologues used vagina to mean vulva, I was miffed. Very very miffed. Didn't Ms. Ensler do any other research on the "vagina" besides interviewing women? Bah. If you don't know the proper terms for your own anatomy ("Doctor, is this my elbow or my ass?"), then you don't deserve to use it!
3. I left feeling very impressed by the women who took part in this play. They talked -- on stage, no less -- about something perceived as naughty and secretive. Woot! But I was most impressed by Senator Nancy Ruth, who recited "My Angry Vagina":
"My Angry Vagina, in which a woman humorously rants about injustices wrought against the vagina, such as tampons, douches, and the tools used by OB/GYNs." (From Wikipedia.org.)
There she was on stage, flamboyantly dressed in black with a loud red shawl and grandmotherly peals, shouting and swearing about the injustices our society thrusts upon our vaginas. There she was, a woman who holds a major political post (thanks to the fight of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers to get us equality), loud on stage. Brilliant and brave. She left me speechless.
4. And yes, the younger women leaving the play were giggling outside. But I think it was more from being nervous with this new power. "I have a cunt, and I won't worry anymore about being labelled a slut if I enjoy it." It's a wonderful freedom to be able to enjoy and understand ourselves. The mystery between our legs shouldn't be a mystery. It should be a celebration.
I vow to not be silent about this anymore.
And incidentally, this past Valentine's Day was the 16th anniversary of my menarche. This is a milestone -- I've now spent half of my life as a woman. And what a journey it's been!
While at the dog park tonight, pointing at the stars, planets and moon in the clear cold sky with Nik, we again witnessed part of the snow goose migration. We caught it last year too: unexpectedly, under the February full moon, we happened to witness hundreds of silvery-white things floating quietly in the air. "Are those balloons?" I asked Nik. Our neighbour Peter was with us too. The birds flew overhead from the north-west, heading directly south.
And what a coincidence to see them again tonight, once again under a February full moon. There were maybe 50 to 70 of them -- not as impressive as last year's show -- but still an unexpected treat. They came from the west and were again heading south. "It's like the stars are flying away," said Nik.
I could only find one photo that approximates this serene experience. Remember that the white birds glow from the moon-light reflected in snow and from the bright city lights while flying in a near-black sky.
The change room at the gym is very aptly named. It's a place of miraculous change. Naked, mostly fit (except for a few chubbers, like me) women walk from the showers, their hair wrapped in towels. It's a social leveling -- all of these women, different in size, height, and skin colour -- have all of the same bits and all look the same.
Then the change happens.
Layers of clothing are added. The hair is let down and dried. Make-up is applied. And all of these women, who underneath it all are similar yet unique, leave as different creatures. A mom wearing jeans and an old t-shirt. A business executive in heels and suit. A punk-rocker with torn fishnets, black/blue hair and black jumper-dress. Frumpy cubicle-worker me, with my cheap, nylon blue-striped slacks and an over-sized dress shirt.