The news is that vaginas are coming back into fashion, in rather a big way. Yes, this has happened before, but never quite so commercially, says CyberShrink.
I do try to keep up with the times. Sexually, that is. The widespread interest in Prince Harry's Crown Jewels was hardly surprising, though I was puzzled to hear he'd been playing "strip billiards". I hadn't come across this, though it offers so many opportunities for double entendres, about chalking his cue, and such-like. Strip poker, OK. And I have dabbled in Strip Solitaire, but only when I'm due for a bath anyway.
But the news is that vaginas are coming back into fashion, in rather a big way. Yes, this has happened before, but never quite so commercially.
The Vagina Dialogues
Take, for instance, recent books. "Vagina: A New Biography" by Naomi Wolf. At least it's not an autobiography. Then there's "Vagina : An Owner's Manual"; and the more racy " Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva.". Which will be especially helpful to those men who thought the vulva was a brand of Swedish car.
When girls became lads
At least these works bring a bracingly adult terminology to an area where laddish young women have gone oddly fey lately. Strange, isn't it? For years there's been an effort on the part of parents to teach little kids to use the proper polite medical/scientific terms for ones bits and pieces, so a child may talk of vaginas and penises like a gynaecologist, rather than using the varied and odd cutesy terms people used to use when talking to kids. Admirable.
But why, then, do grown women (who, like grown men, increasingly behave like pre-adolescents) now abandon the usual adult nomenclature, and use cutesy, childish terms? There's talk on TV and in print about "my VaJayJay", or "my FrontBottom." Or the "Hoo-ha". (where's Al Pacino when you really need him?) Why?
Fortunately, there are some bracing new on-line publications taking a more adult approach. Vagenda is a new and excellent online blog, featuring feminism with an actual sense of humour, as well as acute critical senses. Sounds like rather a good pun, perhaps, though there's the echo of "ender" about it, which sounds more pessimistic than intended. Like Smokenders. And there's also the V-Spot blog.
The Great Wall of Vagina
The range of contemporary merchandise is wider than you'd think. There are Hoo-ha mugs, greetings cards and T-shirts readily available on-line, with fridge magnets, beer steins, and mouse pads. Then there's the "I Love My Muff" website, offering all sorts of stuff. My concern with the title is that it reminds me too much of the period in the 70s when conversational product names were fashionable (like the oily spread called " I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"), and, relevant to this digression, a sanitising powder to sprinkle on the floor and vacuum up, called "I Love My Carpet."
Anyhow, self-declared muff-lovers are offered ( http://www.ilovemymuff.com/) an "I Love My Muff Maintenance Kit "( I kid you not!) with a range of products from "soft lotion" ( is there a hard lotion?) and scented sprays to individually wrapped "Fresh Wipes" in a range of perfumes. There's a Green version "sweet citrus fusion of vanilla, grapefruit and ylang ylang", which promises coyly "there’s no telling where it will take you"... "Fresh, warm and sensual… like the perfect sip of spiced tea and honey in a garden of vanilla and citrus blossoms. " Not really clear whether you're supposed to sniff it or eat it.
Or there's Blue: "Elevate your mood with this spa fresh blend of lavender, clary sage and patchouli." " It gives ‘feeling blue’ a whole new meaning" the advert coos (what a curious statement in this context !) And then there's Red: "moistened with extracts of cucumber, chamomile flower, vitamin E and lavender, providing freshness that smoothes whenever and wherever you need it." The ingredients include my personal favourite for inducing "mystical feelings": Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate. Can't get enough of that stuff!
Avoiding anything natural
The ads insist they offer "the promise to provide daily love and care for down there" (which may be Australian territory somewhere Down Under), and to provide every woman with "eco chic". Doesn't this somehow conjure up an image of the vagina as an incipient ecological disaster, from which we are rescued by cucumber and ylang-ylang? Y-yes, Y-yes?
One of those ads promises to enable your nether reaches to smell "Mountain fresh". Ah, how well I remember strolling in the high Alps, surrounded by blue Gentian, dainty Edelweiss, and the gambolling and ever-fresh wild Vagina. The hills are alive with rather more than the sound of music, it seems.
As Lucy Karsen says, in her brilliant article in Vagenda: (May 2, 2012) "My vagina does not need to be artificially coloured, inside or out. (No, really. There are special vagina ‘hair dyes’ and the kind folks at Pink Button have created a ‘genital cosmetic colorant’) . You know, just in case your vagina suffers from the fate of looking like a vagina. "
And do the cunning linger?
And in case a vagina tastes too, well, too vaginal, there are ‘internal feminine flavourings’ such as Linger : “A small, naturally sweetened flavoring, free of artificial dyes ... created to flavor the secretions of a woman when she is sexually aroused. Linger is shaped for comfort during insertion and use, and is formulated to dissolve slowly, so the effects last and last…"
Depending on your menu, maybe long enough to provide hours of jollity at the office tomorrow morning? Seriously, such flavours and aromas often promote skin allergies, and the sugar content would promote yeast infections, hardly romantic. I love the comment of one feminist writer who pointed out that : "The Vagina is self-cleaning, like an oven. "
These all represent corporate efforts to make women feel uneasy about being female, rather than to actual male wishes. Most of us men react to the idea as unfavourably as we one did to the brief fad for Edible Panties. The main flavour on offer appears to be Mint. I'm confused - is this instead of an after-dinner Mint, or before it ? It’s a form of commercial imperialism, intended to plant profitable product in place of natural content with being as we are.
(Professor M.A. Simpson, aka CyberShrink, September 2012)