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Friday, October 22, 2021

Column: Vagina dialogue

Lots of idioms like to use parts of the body to express themselves: Wearing your heart on your sleeve, having one’s back, or being a kiss-ass, are just examples of a few. But wearing your vulva around your neck, ladies? Is that a thing?

Well, if you visit etsy.com, it literally can be. An online store for handmade or vintage items, the site contains a shopping page called “VulvaLoveLovely” that specializes in “feminist, body positive products” including vulva pendants, portraits, pillows, plushes, etc.

Now, the idea of wearing one’s genitals around his or her neck is not very enticing to most people. Why would any girl want her vagina hanging around her neck?

That’s not my name

First of all, therein that statement lies a common misconception: If any female were to rid herself of skirt and panties this instant, what we’d see would not be her vagina. Colloquially, we tend to mistakenly use the word “vagina” to identify lady-parts in general, when in fact the vagina is an internal structure – a muscular tract that leads from the uterus to the body’s exterior. So unless you’re planning a dissection, chances are you won’t be able to see a woman’s vagina.

What you would see, however, is actually called the “vulva,” the female’s external genital organ. So the next time your friend is worried about flashing her vajay in public because of that super-short skirt she’s wearing, you can correct her and let her know it’s called a vulva. She doesn’t want her vulva hanging out.

We aren’t hippies anymore

No matter what girls decide to call their nether regions – whether it be their vulva, vagina, vajayjay, kitty, beaver, cha-cha, or bluffin’ muffin – a lot of college-aged women enjoy them smooth and depilated, according to a recent article found in Psychology Today.

In the piece, sex therapist/psychiatrist Stephen Snyder comments on the current “bare” trend, stating that many of the young men he treats find a hairy woohoo “unsightly… or even disgusting.” Aww, c’mon now, guys. Don’t be so dramatic. Girls can’t always afford a Brazilian.

Even so, 58.6 percent of girls have made do, says a report by Dr. Debra Herbenick in The Journal of Sexual Medicine; a majority of women aged 18 to 24 had been completely hairless down there at some point throughout the study. And while some girls took to the hot wax for a quick rip off the old block, shaving was the more common approach to smoother lady business.

But is it because guys find it repulsive that girls have the urge to trim the hedges? I’d sure as hell hope not, honeybees – don’t let any man tell you how to work that body of yours. It’s yours, girl. Own it. Yard work for personal satisfaction, however, I’m okay with.

In fact, in her study, Herbenick discovered that plenty of females who kept their kitties bare “reported better genital self-image overall, and more sexual satisfaction.”

So what is it? Why exactly are all you girls shaving, trimming and waxing those bushes? My guess is that it’s just a fad, much like ripped jeans or Ke$ha. Back in the ’70s, hippies were all about the shag carpeting. Nowadays, we prefer a sleeker down-under. Who knows, in another 30 years, maybe we’ll enjoy pubes in the shape of lightning bolts or something. Times change, that’s all there is to it.

So close (oh, oh so close), but so far

While fads may come and go, some things just stick around forever.

The ability to orgasm is one of those things.

But some women, one in seven to be exact, find themselves unable to do so. A study conducted by Kim Wallen, professor of behavioral neuroendocrinology at Emory University, shows that while 98 percent of men boast they “always” orgasm during sex, only 11 percent of women had comparable sentiments. And interestingly enough, approximately the same number of women said the complete opposite: They had never climaxed during sex.

Wallen and his collaborator Elisabeth Lloyd, a professor at Indiana University, both suggest that reaching a climax from intercourse alone is a difficult feat. This is mostly because the clitoris, a female’s most sensitive erogenous zone, is usually not directly stimulated. Try having your partner use his or her hands or tongue for optimal pleasure if you’ve had some difficulties there, ladies.

And it’s also a great idea to get to know your kitties a little better. The more you know about how things work down there, the better sex you’ll have.

While they may be a little difficult to attain, female orgasms are definitely not impossible. In a recent study at Rutgers University, Professor Barry Komisaruk videoed the effects of orgasm on the female brain, finding that waves of pleasure and ecstasy achieved through orgasm are powerful enough to bar a woman from feeling pain.

Yes, sex is a powerful, pleasurable thing. But be educated about it, girls. And don’t be ashamed of your lady-parts. Even if you don’t want to wear your vulvas around your necks, you can still follow the site’s beautiful advice: “Love your vulva, love the vulvas you meet, foster understanding and appreciation of vagina, and be happy with your vagina.”

MARIO LUGO will return with a “Dear Mario” segment next week. If there’s a question you’ve been dying to have answered, e-mail him at mlugo@ucdavis.edu.

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