Have You Heard About The Controversial Practice Of Labia Stretching?

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labia pulling
Self

This was news to me.

It is not revelatory of me to state that history has not been kind to women and our bodies. 

All over the world throughout the ages, women's bodies have been hidden, manipulated, and mutilated in efforts to make us more sexually desirable, less sexually desirable, or to just plain keep us down at heel. 

Thankfully, I live in a place where, if I choose to wear a corset it can be a choice, not a stricture put on me by a society that dictates how my body ought to look.

Because of where I live, I can have sex with a man who is not my husband without fear of being beaten to death. The worst I get is harassment on social media, which I will take any day of the week. 

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In other parts of the world, women's bodies are treated differently. Who knows? Give Donald Trump another few months in office and maybe I'll be eating my words (or whatever else he decides women should be eating these days). 

In Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa there is a subset of female genital modification that, although I just learned about it, has apparently been going on for centuries. 

That practice is called labia stretching or labia pulling, and it's exactly what it sounds like.

Girls as young as 8 or 9 are taught to tug on their labia or an older woman or friend will do it for them. Sometimes weights are used. The labia can be permanently stretched up to 5 inches in length.

Women and girls in these countries who practice labia pulling do it because they are told they have to do it to keep their husbands from straying.

Yeah, because what a dude wants is for your vagina to suck up his dick and never let it go, that's right. 

This is actually a really complicated issue (surprise) — because women who practice labia pulling are also doing it to boost their OWN sexual pleasure.

Women are taught that longer labia can make for better orgasms, and, if you account for friction, it's easy to see how that could be the case

In fact, although the World Health Organization was asked to declassify the practice as a form of female genital mutilation and instead be listed as a "modification" because the practice does not actually harm women.

So if a woman is doing this because it's her choice, more power to her, right? 

But when labia pulling is started before a child can understand and consent to what's happening, how is different from abuse? 

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If you want to stretch your labia, you do you (safely, obvi).

But practices like this make it absolutely clear that we as world have a lot of work left to do with how we teach young girls what it means to be women.

At 8 years old, girls should be learning multiplication not trying to figure out how to keep a man.