Why Are We Still Scared of The Female Body?
Should we be keeping it a secret?
The rights of women in the western world have come a long way in the last few years. Women are being much more open about, well, pretty much everything that happens to us and our bodies. Social Media has allowed us to talk more openly about our bodies in a way in which we’re comfortable. Heck, I’ve probably had more conversations about women’s rights on Instagram in the past year that I’ve ever had before. And that is a brilliant, brilliant thing.
But in saying that, I’ve also noticed a pattern.
Last year I became an ambassador for The Cup Effect, a charity whose aim is to end period poverty and raise awareness on Menstrual Cups. When I put up a post announcing that, I lost hundreds (not an exaggeration, I literally mean hundreds) of followers. And this has continued anytime I mention periods.
A few days ago, I mentioned the word ‘vulva’ in my story. I wasn’t even the one saying it. Again, I lost around a hundred followers.
How many more times do I have to mention the female body for this to become a pattern?
Yes, I know that I used to be an account that focussed solely on books, and talking about the female body may not necessarily be what my followers signed up for. And you have every right to unfollow someone, I’m not going to be one of those people who comes marching into your DMs demanding an explanation as to why you unfollowed me. All I’m saying is that the amount of people who choose to unfollow just proves that talking about the female body, especially our vaginas and periods, is still seen as something that should be kept a secret. That these conversations should only happen behind closed doors in a soundproof room.
But with all of the shit women have to go through regarding our bodies, I think we have every right to talk about them as much as we like. As teenagers, we get just about everything thrown at us: Your boobs are too big. Your boobs are too small. You should be wearing a bra. Skirts need to be knee length. No tight fitting trousers. You’re wearing too much make-up. You’re too skinny. You’re too fat. You don’t have any curves. You have too much curves. Periods are gross. Here’s a five minute presentation on menstruation. Sex is bad. You can’t talk about this but men can. You need to cover up. You’d be prettier if you just….
The list goes on and on and on.
I’ve been told all my life, one way or another, that I shouldn’t talk about my body. That meant I developed a fear and discomfort to having these conversations that some women are so desperate to have. Making the decision to talk so openly about periods is one that I’m super proud of, because I’ve had so many conversations with other women that I’ve never had before. It’s like I’ve suddenly gained a support group. My DMs are always a safe space and I would never change that.
There’s a power that comes with deciding to talk about a subject that’s always seen as a taboo, and of course not everyone is going to agree with it. But if you’re going to unfollow someone for saying the word ‘vulva’ I think you need to take a deep dive into yourself to see why that word bothers you so much.