A Love Affair Down There

If you ask my friend N – a lovely woman with an unstoppable drive and unconditional heart – what her first memory of me was, it isn’t exactly what you’d expect. As her editor at the college newspaper, I once stated in an overly-girly fashion that my favorite color was cervix pink. Yeah, you read that correctly – cervix, as in the lower part of my uterus. Rightfully shocked and bewildered by my preference, she questioned how I knew what it looked like and the story goes a little something like this:

During a pap smear  in college, as I laid spread uncomfortably in front of the campus gyno and her nurse, my eyes shut in an effort to relax in such a compromising position, I was told to take a deep breath in. As I always do in the presence of a doctor or someone who has my vulnerability in the palm of their hand or strangely close to their face, I listened and breathed slowly and surely, as an icy-silver tool made its way inside. A few moments later, the chipper gyno with far too much blush asked “Would you like to see your cervix?”

I instantly opened my eyes and was blinded by the unflattering flourescent lighting and as I blinked to adjust my vision, the nurse smiled at me and encouraged, “You should look. It is fascinating.” Rather confused by what they were offering me – I had no idea I could see that far into my vagina – I whispered in agreement. Probably having shown hundreds of university women their most private of areas, the gyno pulled out a mirror and instructed me to lean slightly to the right to see. It wasn’t a Charlotte-falling-off-of-her-bed situation, but what I saw such a lovely shade of pink that I can’t describe other than, well what it is: cervix pink.

And it was in that five-minute span, at 19-years-old that my love affair with myself…down there…began.

Sure, I’ve always know my female anatomy since inquiring about the difference between boys and girls as a child, where my mother sweetly showed me a visual diagram that haunted me for years. I remember the first discovery of pubic hair in the bathtub and I’m not sure if I was more surprised or my father was more upset when he was informed I was starting the hell of adolescence at the tender age of 10. I was unsure of what to do with my newfound figure, how to dress it, and how to own it – and as my body has adapted to each fluctuation of size and shape, I’ve had to redesign my wardrobe and my mentality. When I became sexually active, my lady parts (or whatever you’d like to call them) took on a new meaning – a place not to be hidden underneath those fancy thongs my mother despised – but a garden of pleasure. Even if it would be several years before I experienced what true ecstasy feels like with a real man and not a high school quarterback – or should I say jack hammer?

The older I got and the more my look shifted from child to adult – the more in love I fell with being a woman. This love translated into a genuine investment in women’s interests and studies. And while this blog may not illustrate my convictions and clips about women’s rights internationally and stateside, college was spent working toward a minor in sociology of women and writing columns about suffrage and dissing Sarah Palin – among many other things. I had the opportunity to meet Gloria Steinem and help with The Vagina Monologues, as well as the Women’s Leadership Conference, and all of these experiences have shaped my feminist views (more on feminism on Sunday).

While I already had what I thought was a pretty solid, yet liberal, perspective on sex and a woman’s right to be and to sleep with whoever she’d like (and not be labeled things like ‘slut’ or ‘whore’ when her male counterpart is simply applauded for his conquests) – I didn’t start to liberate myself until I moved here.

You see, New York women are a phenomenally fabulous different breed. They don’t make excuses for their numbers (if they know them). They don’t think twice about having a lover for explosive sex, not for making commitments and babies. They celebrate their vaginas in ways a Southerner would see as a luxury – laser treatments, waxing, and specialty products for that region. They buy expensive silk lingerie to wear under a suit, with or without intending on someone ripping their hosiery. They don’t ask permission from their friends or from the heavens to have a damn good orgasm and if they’re with someone who isn’t performing or stimulating, they aren’t afraid to walk away.

They don’t talk about their sexuality because it isn’t something that’s up for negotiation.  It is just part of who they are, plain and simple. Their choices in the bedroom (or the elevator or the bathroom of a fancy restaurant) belong to them and they aren’t afraid to talk about it. They treat their bodies and especially their own personal lady, with respect and care, and when a visitor visits them – they ensure they’re the ones in control, exuding independence and power to make a sexually-charged decision.

Sure, I’m stereotyping women based on their address, but generally speaking, mating in New York is just as much a woman’s game as it is a man’s – and to be frank, it’s less of a strategy for women, we tend to hold the cards anyways. And when we decide to play our hand, we play it very well, even if we refuse to put on a poker face because faking just isn’t acceptable anymore. If you continuously have to fake, he has to break – life is too short to have mediocre sex. And truth be told – the man isn’t even the important part – it is your parts – it is impossible to love yourself or to find love if you don’t accept your body, and yes, your vagina, as the beautiful, radiating thing it is.

While I’ll never reveal my own modest number,  I will also never be afraid of my confidence and my thankfulness in being a woman. My favorite color may not be cervix pink anymore, but I’ve grown accustomed to treating myself and my possibilities to the pampering we deserve. No budget too small or excuse acceptable.

And so, as I walked toward the flat iron building yesterday, following my second incredible Brazilian wax at Completely Bare, and a bystander called out “Girl, you’re so fine” to me – I couldn’t help but think if he only knew what was underneath this Steve Madden trenchcoat, he’d be speechless.

PS: Check out Completely Bare’s product line. I especially like the Bikini Bump Blaster, the Completely Smooth for Body, and the Model Tan. 

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An Ugly Inequality

This may come as no surprise to anyone, but I’ve been thinking about men a lot lately.

But contrary to that statement, I haven’t been wondering about them in the romantic sense, but rather as people. A while back, I wrote a piece called “Men Are People Too?” which discussed a revelation I had about seeing guys not just as potential mates, but also as friends. May sound a tad crazy and I’ll admit it may make me come across immature for my age, but the majority of my friends have always been females and men to me, for a while, were only meant to fulfill a romantic role. But thanks to Mr. Hubby, J, H, and Mr. Unavailable, I’ve learned how to curve my attitude.

However, what I failed to mention or perhaps, realize, was the advantage and liberty women have over men.

More so than it has ever been before, females are encouraged to be independent. We’re the daughters of the women who grew up in the 70s and the 80s, who dominated corporate while remembering it’s okay to also dominate in bed – missionary be damned. Our mothers were the first to not only demand to be part of the workforce but to rise as high as they could, and then fight the glass ceiling that stopped them. We’re the women who were raised to be free thinkers, to accept that feminism isn’t about burning our bras or creating a No Boys Allowed club, but understanding the power of being a feminist is based simply on choice. We can decide to wear pumps and pleated skirts or pants and kicks and still be a woman. We can raise our voices, raise our eyebrows, or raise our hands – and all three will constitute as a way to stand for what we believe and what we know we deserve. We were brought up with the notion that we could be anything and also not have to be anything at all – a ring, a baby, or a house do not have to be our happy ending. But if we decide to, it can be a beginning or a part of our lives.

In a lot of ways, we’ve shaken off the titles that held us back for so long. Sure, we have a long way to come stateside and globally, and I’m in no means the most qualified expert to speak on the topic, but I do care about it. I am proud and thankful that my family always gave me every indication that I could do anything, that my sex (note: not gender, they are different) does not define me and it doesn’t hold me back. Just because I’m a lady, doesn’t mean I’m less capable of anything as my male counterpart. My dad let me be a tomboy that went on grand adventures, but he also assured me it was okay to want to feel protected. My mother bought me a training bra, but she also trained me how to body slam a guy if he happened to rub me the wrong way or get closer than I wanted him to.

But what about the guys? Do we teach men that it’s okay to have feminine characteristics? That having emotions are just as vital to a human as the ability to cope and carry on?  The great Gloria Steinem said it best: “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

Yesterday, Mr. Possibility and I headed to his hometown to run some errands, visit his mother, and stop by the barber shop he’s been going to since he was eight years old. The place was rather adorable, quintessentially Queens-Italian, and the prices were ridiculously low, unaffected it seems by a downward economy. As I waited for him to finish, sipping coffee, and reading New York magazine, I found myself distracted by the little boy in the stool to the right. He was maybe six and best described as all-smiles. Everything the barber did – from buzzing and cutting to brushing and joking around – made this kid giggle. When his cut and style was finished, he swiveled in the chair and excitedly asked his mom: Don’t I look pretty?!

Seeming embarrassed by this remark, his father quickly chimed in: “No, son you look handsome. Girls look pretty.” The young boy, who was delighted a second before, turned his head down, and that smile that captivated me from across the bench fell as quickly as his spirits. Wanting to tell him that any adjective would do and that female and male connotations are only important when learning a language, I looked over at Mr. Possibility, who had missed the whole exchange and was chatting it up with C, his pot-belly barber. As I looked at him in the mirror, I wondered what child he had been twenty years previous, in this same shop, in this same little town. Was it okay for him to play Barbies with this sister (or alone) as much as it was acceptable for him to kick, catch, or hit a ball? Could he watch Oprah and ESPN in the same hour and still consider himself a man?

Why do men give themselves less liberties than the ladies? Why does the USA allow itself to be so drenched with homophobia and fear of the demise of the “good ole’ boy”? If you ask me, a great man is one who is brave enough to accept and embrace all that he feels, even if some of that is stereotypically considered girly.

Like in relationships, like in love, like in life – when we stop placing so much emphasis on titles and trying to define what everything means – that’s when we find our true freedom. So, why not give the dudes some room to grow? Some space to explore other ways of thinking and go after those things that they’ve always been forbid to do. Or forbidden themselves to try. Those rules that mothers and fathers are still placing heavily on their sons, while encouraging their daughters to chase any dream they have.

Because those restrictions, those unwavering, old-school, ways of determining what makes a man keep guys from truly becoming the best men they can be, or rather, the best person they can grow into. Don’t call it handsome, don’t call it beautiful, don’t call it lovely, don’t call it cute, and don’t call it pretty. Call it what it is – an ugly inequality.