Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Let's Hear it for the Vagina!

Last night Za and I saw the video. You know the one: the birthing video where you see the baby's head coming out of the mom's vagina. While I was cringing, fearing how painful that would be, I was more interested in the reactions of all the fathers (Za was not among them), who said things under their breath like "I didn't need to see that." Or, "I was not ready for that." The general tenor of the group of dads was: YUCK.

Now, I am not going to get on my holier-than-thou stage and denounce them with my feminist finger wagging for having such a reaction. It is not an easy sight to see, and it can be uncomfortable in a large group of people to see naked, pregnant women giving birth. What I wanted to focus on was how odd it is that, as a culture, we find these images so despicable, while we have a huge, booming pornography industry and women's bodies are used to sell everything from cameras to power tools. We sexualize the female body all the time, but when her body is doing something really quite amazing, unbelievable, the general chorus is: ICK!

It really hit me last night why productions like the Vagina Monologues are so important to counteract this general disgust with the female body and birthing. The vagina really does get a bad rap. It is either fetishized or treated solely as the site of male penetration, or it is considered ugly, smelly, and frightening (Vagina Dentata). And yet, birth is truly an amazing process that releases a newborn into the world through a woman's vagina. There is certainly not enough praise, awe and wonder at this act.