This is why it matters SO much.
When I was in sixth grade I went to school without wearing underwear.
I didn’t like the way the waistband dug into my skin and how the fabric of my panties (barf, I typed the word panties) made me feel constricted and unable to breathe.
So I did what anyone would do if they were uncomfortable wearing an item of clothing.
I took them off as soon as I got to school because I realized that wearing them all day would be insufferable.
I balled them up, tossed them into my backpack and went about my business.
That day, while getting changed for gym, the other girls in the locker room were horrified.
“Oh my god why are you just showing off your vagina?” They screamed when they saw me tottling through the locker room like Winnie the Pooh.
“I’m not showing off anything,” I said. “I’m just naked.”
That night, when I got home from school, my mother made an angry bee-line for my backpack.
She pulled out my underwear and shook them in front of my face.
“What on earth is going on?” I felt guilty, because she was my mom and she was mad about something, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel guilty about.
I explained to her that the underwear wasn’t comfortable and since I was wearing pants it wasn’t a big deal.
My mother didn’t see it that way, and neither did the girls at school who told my teacher, who called my mom.
I agreed to wear underwear from there on out, and, in my first act of pre-teen rebellion I had no intention of following through.
In school, the boys would talk about me. “She doesn’t wear underwear,” they would whisper.
Somehow, because I didn’t have a second layer of cotton between my vagina and the world I must be a slut.
I was a vagina show-off.
I was a pervert. I was gross.
I was a sensitive kid, and I definitely bowed to the pressure of my peers on most things, but on this, I just couldn’t make the leap to self-loathing.
“They make my vagina uncomfortable,” I’d say when a guy in class would jeer at me. His eyes would bug out of his head at the very word.
All I had to do was say it, or make people think about it, and I was committing an act of major defiance.
I still mostly don’t wear underwear (and I’ve never gotten a yeast infection, so make of that what you will) and I still talk about my vagina non-stop.
It’s my act of rebellion.
After all, the world revolves around the penis.
Men build tall buildings to act as surrogate stand-ins for their penises. They buy fancy cars if they are worried that their penis is too small. The world is run by the penis. A guy adjusts his balls on the train and that’s just a man being a man, but if I do a quick pat down to make sure my tampon hasn’t sprung a leak I’m a freaky weirdo.
Talk about your vagina. Does it hurt? Say it hurts. Feeling hormonal and slimy in the vagina area?
TALK ABOUT IT.
I don’t talk about my vagina or my sex life or my period or any of it because I want to be shocking. I do it so that eventually we’ll hit a point where it’s just the norm. It’s a body part. It does things. Some of those things are gross, some of them are uncomfortable, but all of them are miraculous.
I'm sick of the shame.
Men can buy plastic testicles to hang from their pickup truck, why can’t I buy ovaries to hang from mine?
The penis is the centerpiece of most graffiti, so why not some flappy labia for my own imaginary means of conveyance?
When I started talking about my vagina as a kid it was out of naiveté, but now I do it with purpose.
I will stop when women have complete control over their bodies. I will stop when women get paid as much as men. I will stop when women don’t have to wear makeup to make sure they get a raise. I will stop when female genital mutilation stops.
I cannot fix the world all by myself, but I can do my part.
Talking about my vagina is a small battle in a larger war and I have no intention to go down without a fight.