Thursday, March 3, 2011

Infantilizing Vaginas

Reader Marina just sent me a link to the following article and asked me to blog about it:
You’ve tried everything to spruce up your lady parts. First, you made sure your garden was neat and tidy. Then, you trimmed up the hedges. (Read Does Bikini Razor Commercial Go Too Far?) Finally, you decided to go for the gold and deforested all of “virginia.” Where does a girl go from here?One sparkly, special word: Vajazzle.
Vajazzling is a burgeoning beauty treatment, popular with celebs and kinky Martha Stewart-ites alike, that involves ladies bedazzling their freshly waxed lady parts just as they would their neato neckerchiefs or fancy fannypacks – with tiny, magical crystals.
So women aren’t just obsessively coiffing their “areas” to look like pre-teen Barbies – they’re now glue-sticking Barbie’s earrings down below, too?
Jennifer Love Hewitt sparked this sparkly trend a few weeks ago when she announced her labia luster on Lopez Tonight. “After a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady," J.Love said, while discussing her new dating book. "It shined like a disco ball, so I have a whole chapter in there on how women should vajazzle their vajayjays."
There is more in the same vein but I realized that I was about to throw up and stopped reading. Lady parts? Precious lady? Vajayjays? Before you follow the link to read the article in full, I have to warn you: there are photos of very very weird people vajazzling or whatever it's called. Don't say I didn't warn you.

For centuries women denounced the patriarchal society for infantilizing them, for trivializing their experiences, for reducing them to perennially childlike toys whose only role was to be consumed by men. Today, nobody forces women in our society to refer to their vaginas as "precious ladies" or to stick Swarovski crystals into them. I know for a fact that a woman can have a very fulfilling personal life without vajazzles, Brazilian waxes, vaginal plastic surgery, or any other atrocity of the same ilk. I even happen to believe that a fulfilling personal life is a direct result of liking one's sexual organs and accepting them the way they are. 

The need to self-infantilize remains so strong because it liberates one from adult responsibilities. A grown woman pretends that she doesn't have a grown vagina but, rather, a little girl's vajayjay. By sticking flashy crystals onto it, she convinces herself that she has managed to escape adulthood for good.

P.S. I just forced myself to look at the pictures of this atrocity and realized that this procedure must make having sex quite uncomfortable, if not painful. In this sense, this must also be some sort of a self-castration practice that helps one avoid confronting one's adult sexuality. 


Pagan Topologist said...

Absurd? Ridiculous? Silly?

No, for once in my life I find myself adjectivally challenged. No words reach the descriptive level to describe this.

Shedding Khawatir said...

Thinking of crystals on vagina + sexual activity inspires in me the same sort of nausea/horror I feel thinking about FGM and virginity faking via things like glass shards up the vagina. Now, intellectually I realize they are all different in both practice and intent, and I shouldn't equate them. But ick!

Patrick said...


Vajazzle is a FAKE product - designed by a media critic to demonstrate how horrible the news media is at actually doing REAL investigation and treat all Press releases without a sober second thought.

I was just listening to the creator on "Q" on the CBC radio one.

Clarissa said...

No, it's not.

See also this and especially note the number of comments and the level of enthusiasm:

woman in her 20-ies Part1 said...

By refusing to read further you missed why it's done:

They cover up those unsightly skin reactions that appear after ... [ripping] hair from your body with pot-o-molten-wax. Vajazzling also masks all evidence of childbirth.

... [she] underwent a vajazzling treatment to cover her C-section scars.

On the one hand, they do v-thing to cover side effects of another beauty treatment, like taking drug Y to fight side effects of drug X, when one had no real reason to take either of them in the 1st place.

On the other hand, I can't blame those poor women. I heard how many intelligent(!) young men talk. F.e. "I expect an*l from my girlfriend and future wife, especially since after birth women aren't tight there" Many do have influenced by p0rn expectations. I think one can be for fun sexuality, but be disgusted by p0rn, most of which is insulting to women. Haven't seen your pov on the matter. (I mean frequent arguments on feminist blogs anti- or for- using it).

On another, more interesting to me subject: If, after giving birth, a wife feels she's not as attractive to her husband as before, I fully understand why she would do v-thing, hoping it'll incite the spark again. May be you'll say "then he doesn't love her - leave him". Here, to be honest, I am not sure where to put the limit: expecting one's spouse to look 25 forever & being disgusted by every stretch mark and wrinkle can't be healthy. However, I know that were my hypothetical thin partner (I am alone) suddenly become obese, my desire would 100% disappear and, well, you can't force yourself desire somebody sexually. Everybody is influenced by culture, can't this v-thing or XYZ-thing really save / improve their marriage and sex life? I would be really interested in your pov.

And, if we're talking about everybody being influenced by beauty culture, one woman at Pandagon wrote in her comment that it deeply influenced her - now she feels she puts the same standards on men (hairless, etc) and can't feel attraction otherwise. I too only ever feel attracted to thin, shaved men with delicate face features. Is it 100% cultural (Male Cinderella Syndrome? - I made the name up, seems to suit "delicate, young and thin" look)? Should I fight this, even if I don't think I can? What about becoming obese scenario? If one's sexual desire disappears, is it since I am as shallow as those men? Anyway, I am sure only in one thing - were women like her and me in majority, men would become tired from beauty culture fast. And I mean FAST. I honestly feel great with my body so far (of course, I am still young and thin), "just" feel I apply it to men and honestly can't want them sexually otherwise.

woman in her 20-ies Part2 said...

This woman's comment was both a relief that I am not alone and I wish I could say a way this beauty culture hurts men too. "I wish" since I don't see it in other women, except this one and myself. In movies and often in RL women apply one standard to themselves and completely another to men. I heard sentences like "you don't use make-up and don't make your eyebrows thinner, how would you feel if a man came to a date stinking? If you don't change, only such men, who also don't look after themselves, would come" Hello? I am not stinking! I am young, thin, at least average pretty and with clothes that suit my looks and personality.

Besides, how I feel does have some internal logic: f.e. I guess I would prefer to buy a partner a stunning outfit than to myself, if had to choose 1 of 2. After all, I would want to enjoy sexually looking at him, not myself, as a foreplay and in general, right? The same about sexual attraction. So far I care more about how he looks than myself since I already love myself and I don't think were I to gain 20 kg my desires would change. Were men investing a bit more in their looks, may be more would look attractive to me too. By investing I don't mean nose jobs or bodybuilding (which is the opposite of attractive to me), just tasteful clothes, not thinking women have to stay thin, but shouldn't and don't think about men's weight (that culture or "real" me talking?), etc. Of course, nobody "owes" anybody else to stay thin or throw at me a man of my dreams. I can't help wishing cultural standards were different in the direction of staying fit for both sexes.

Let's end with Dire Prediction: Like being totally without hair below, this v-thing will be expected in 2017, after enough men learn to expect it from p0rn, newspaper articles and famous people's interviews & books.

Clarissa said...

Dear friend, believe a woman in her 30ies when she tells you that nobody desires you because of the way you are dressed, your make up, shoes, handbag, hairstyle, or vagina glitter. Physical desire is based on chemistry. Everything else we do fulfills completely different goals.

You can't create desire where none exists no matter where you stick the glitter or how you deck yourself out.

I have yet to meet a man (or a woman) who would be prevented from having sex with a person they truly desire by the presence or the absence of hair on the genitals.

As to men preferring thin women, all I can do is smile here. Men (and women) prefer people they desire. Thin, not thin, whatever. Everything else is just a myth that we are being sold by the advertisement industry.

woman in her 20-ies said...

Thank you for your answer.

My main reason for writing wasn't that I am afraid men won't desire me, it's that I don't desire them! (I mean that I find extremely few men sexually attractive and they're all "Male Cinderella" type. I am 100% hetero, so being lesbian is not an explanation.)

I thought you would be interested in how those cultural beauty standards can influence women in anti-men way, instead of anti-themselves as culture is "supposed" to work.

You can't create desire where none exists no matter where you stick the glitter or how you deck yourself out.

But this married couple did marry. Desire did exist there. My question was about whether you're against becoming thin again, if it'll rekindle the desire. Or do you think big weight gain or if a husband sees his wife's body drastically change after giving birth can't kill desire (even temporary? or until the changes diminish?)?

Clarissa said...

I think that people should become or not become thin according to what they feel they need. As for desire, I know for a fact that a person who really desires you will not even notice any such changes in your body. A healthy sexual desire is chemical, as I said. It's based on smell, so to speak.

As for cultural stereotypes influencing desire: they don't. They are an excuse that people who might have some problems in the area of their sexuality use to explain away their issues.

What both men and women who are sexually healthy find sexually attractive is: high self-esteem and healthy sexuality. Look at the people who have crazy numbers of admirers. I don't mean movie stars, I mean real people. How many of them correspond to the traditional image of male/female beauty that is culturally constructed? In my experience, hardly any.

I know this guy who turns everybody around him crazy. Women pursue him in droves. Very heterosexual men reconsider their orientation because of him. The guy, however, is short, skinny, balding, and looks like he doesn't even know the word gym. I also know a tall, classically beautiful guy who lives in a gym and who can't get a date for love or money. Well, maybe for money he could.

Tom Carter said...

Hmmm. I thought about this for a bit. I think if I unsuspectingly uncovered a vajazzled vajayjay (my two new words of the day) I'd run screaming from the scene and stay in bed for the next three days. Or have a heart attack....