Wednesday, February 01, 2006
why, part 1.5
This was the first picture of a vagina I ever saw in a book: a line drawing of a "beaver" in Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
When I told my mother, she said, "Good grief." When I told my sister, she said, "Cool."
I don't guess I really ever told my dad.
So what do I want to tell you?
Maybe it's because I'm pregnant, and my vagina, for the first time, is going to be center stage pretty soon anyway. So why not.
Maybe it's because, despite the purchase of David Schnarch's Passionate Marriage and a whole host of other marriage-related books prior to my wedding, I never did do what they told me to and sit in front of a full-length mirror naked and try to see what it looked like. Maybe it's because now I'm curious and try to get my husband to describe it.
Maybe it's because, when I learned my baby is a girl, the technician told us, "See those little lines right there? Those are her labia," and I was so, so happy that my little girl was not identified as a little girl simply because of the absence of a penis.
Maybe these things are relevant. Maybe they're simply ways to say, I know my vagina is a part of me in a way that has defined who I am, and what I've done, and what I've wanted to do, my whole life, in a way that I have never explicitly acknowledged. Until now.
But it's more that that, more than just the fact that I want to be honest with myself about this part of me. It's also that as I discover this about myself as something to cherish and celebrate, other women still experience their vaginas as a source of vulnerability and oppression and anxiety. And that, too, is what the Vagina Monologues is about.
This is the most recent picture of a vagina I've seen in a book: from Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias (Book One, Vision Three), the Rupertsberg manuscript.
These two pictures bookend this statement. They bookend my experience with vaginas. First they were dirty and illicit and something that only men talked about--and not in ways that a nice girl like me should know about, anyway. But ever so slowly, the vagina has become a metaphor for the divine, of creation, of love, of faithfulness: the universe.
Posted by JTB at 2:47 PM