We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it’s a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift.

Marilyn Monroe

Vagina vaudeville
Vagina vaudeville

Roll up, roll up! See twenty women on a stage talking about vaginas! R-r-r-r-roll up, roll up! Get your tickets here!

No, really, it’s not easy to imagine this being said in Victorian England, is it? Or in Geneva in the same period. Such a performance certainly couldn’t have taken place in America, and Australia as we know it barely existed then. The most an expectant theatre audience could hope for in terms of saucy titillation was a briefly exposed stocking top or a cheeky knowing wink, and even that was only in the lower-class establishments. So perhaps I was exaggerating slightly the other day when I said that we hadn’t come very far, and that our attitudes in 2014 are shy and puritanical. And yet…

People who’ve read more than one of my blog posts might have noticed that I like to start off with two things – 1) a quote from someone far wiser and more articulate than me and 2) a photo. Let’s deal with the quote first.

You might be shocked to learn that I don’t have quotes about every subject on the tip of my tongue (you read it here first) so sometimes I have to enlist the assistance of my favourite search engine. This is great when I’m looking for quotes about work or inspiration or life or books or education. But the other day when I wrote a post called Vajazzles and Vajayjays, I was distressed with what I found.

If you type “quotes about vaginas” into Google, it starts off well – the first one you’ll find is a quote from the piece in Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues that I had the honour of performing on stage last month. But it all goes very rapidly downhill from there. Vile, misogynistic “pussy” jokes are pretty much all there is to find.

And about the images… I usually use my own photos for my blog (or, this month, those that my lovely friend Helen took of The Vagina Monologues, Geneva) but very occasionally I don’t have anything that’s relevant and so borrow from the internet. Like today. But man, you can imagine what happened when I typed vajazzle and vajayjay into Google Images… Enough said about that.

Some lovely friends of mine in London have a cartoon stuck to the door in their downstairs loo which always makes me feel simultaneously sad and amused. A man sits with The Sun newspaper open to the very busty, topless page three girl, and next to him sits a woman breastfeeding her baby. The man pulls his small child away from the breastfeeding woman and says, “Don’t look, son. That’s disgusting.”

This seems to me to be a good summary of the current state of play. Women can be reduced to less than a sum of their parts for the purposes of private and public sexual consumption, but if they dare to talk about those parts then they’re considered vulgar. There’s a virtual vagina X-travaganza out there and yet women sometimes struggle to describe symptoms they might have to their doctors because they’re too embarrassed to say the word.

Things are seriously out of kilter.

So just a small question… Erm, can I have my body back please?

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