‘Vaginas’ is spelled wrong

http://www.owningpink.com/blogs/owning-pink/sperm-trumps-vagina-wtf<–I just had a really intense response to a homework assignment about this article and Devin suggested that I share it.

It will take me a few days or weeks to get over learning that my vagina can fall out (#5). Regardless, I can’t help but think that this example of a “crazy thing about the vagina” is a wonderfully vivid metaphor for what Lissa Rankin is trying to do with her spreading awareness about the vagina and the discourse about vaginas– let’s stop hiding them! (Google Chrome is telling me that ‘vaginas’ is spelled wrong. I think this might also be symbolic of the fact that in our society the vagina is a personal and hidden thing between a female’s legs. If the discourse about the vagina were more public we could probably all get our vaginas together and have wonderful discussions…and Google Chrome might then accept the vernacular instead of only the pompous Latin medical term ‘vaginae’. There is no squiggly red line under ‘penises’.) 

Was I surprised to read about the hush hush circumstances of vagina discourse in the media? Nope. Relatedly, last year I wrote a final paper for an English course on a Playtex Sport tampon box and can safely report that the issues with vaginas go much deeper (pun) than Rankin’s commercial censorship example. One of the main conclusions that I came to is that the tampon industry—particularly Playtex—has some invested interest in making vaginas seem embarrassing and smelly. Tampons are frequently marketed as “discrete”, “scented”, “with extra protection and noiseless wrappers”. I went all Marxist, feminist, queer theorist, and even race theorist on said tampon box (it was a literary theory class) and decided that the tampon industry is able to portray vaginas and periods as something that needs to be kept a secret, unnatural, and embarrassing should a leak happen because of society’s view of the vagina. We really are taught to be embarrassed of it and to keep it a secret; I don’t think that the same can be said for the penis, not that it should be the case for either.

Was I surprised about Rankin’s bringing up the fact that things like ‘erectile dysfunction’ are not censored from the media? Nope. I could go on for hours about this, but to get to the point, the world is phallocentric; at the very least in French, English, and Spanish it is, I can’t really speak for any other languages. At being perceived as crazy as well as being wrong because I am not actually refreshed on the subject, I am going to suggest that this is related to Helene Cixous’ ideas about the human body and communication. She argues that communication is largely based on the male pleasure center, which is a sepcific point (think about a pencil!<- or this exclamation point.<- or that period<-<- or those arrows), whereas the female pleasure center is not so much a center as her entire body. We consider papers good if they are concise and to the point: like the male pleasure center. We consider papers bad if they stray from the point, are too emotional, too wordy, or use phrases like “I feel like xyz”: like the female pleasure center. We also perceive intelligence based on these things. Hypocritically, I do not even personally enjoy reading papers that stray from the point and I loath wordiness. It’s really not fair though because it seems very possible to me that communication is phallocentric and that I will never be able to communicate as efficiently as I could if language and society were structured differently.

I might just be ranting because I am currently having issues with a scholarship application. The essay can only be two pages long and I want to share every experience that I have ever had and how that experience made me feel and everything that I think and how those all relate to why I deserve the scholarship, but I just feel like I cannot express myself the way that I would like. Even if I write it in Ariel because Ariel reminds me of the female body much more than Times New Roman. And probably the scholarship committee would not appreciate my writing at the end of the paper why I wrote the paper in Ariel because it would not be to the point, although I would love to explain why. I probably should not even submit this post because it is not to the point and probably confusing to someone who is not Tyanna Slobe because we are not taught to understand emotions and how they relate to academics.

If anything should be taken from this post it is that ‘vaginas’ is spelled wrong but ‘penises’ is not.

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