AFTER years of unfashionability, vaginas are finally back in vogue. This exciting news comes courtesy of Australian social commentator Bettina Arndt and is a big relief to those of us who continued covertly sporting vaginas even when the fashionistas thought they were as passe as macrame belts and velvet disco jumpsuits.
Most of us weren’t bold enough to expose our out-of-date organs in public, but every so often we’d kick back in them around the house, copping merciless flak whenever we were busted by trendsetting friends.
“I can’t believe you’re still getting about in that old thing,” these mode meisters would say in hysterics. Some of the younger ones didn’t even know what vaginas were, greeting them with the mystified looks they directed at vinyl albums and telephones with spinning front bits, curly cords and finger slots.
But we didn’t care. We knew we were unforgivably unfangled. We knew we should have chucked our vintage vadges into car park clothing bins or donated them to Smith Family appeals. But – hopeless hoarders that we were – we held on to them in the hope that one day they’d make a comeback.
Finally our patience has been rewarded.
In a column in The Weekend Australian, Arndt blamed clitoris-obsessed 1970s feminists for unfairly declaring vaginas dead in the water. She said the consequent “clitoral clamour” kick-started an “era of clitoromania” that brainwashed women into thinking their love ovens were fun-free zones and robbed them of the many delights vaginas had to offer.
“American feminist Shere Hite claimed women were being exploited by being forced to endure the old in-and-out when it did nothing for them,” Arndt wrote.
“But her efforts to normalise women who need clitoral attention silenced others who enjoyed traditional coupling. The oppressed became the oppressors, which is why it has taken so long for the vagina to regain its place in the sun.”
Apparently the Big V’s sunny resurgence is due to groundbreaking research that shows the clitoris is not the only body part responsible for sending “have an orgasm” messages to the brain. In a new book called The Science of Orgasm, American professors Beverly Whipple and Barry Komisaruk reveal that nerves in the vagina, cervix and uterus are also in on the act.
We genitalia dags are, of course, tickled pink that our much-maligned moneymakers have experienced a revival. Yet Arndt’s suggestion that feminists filched vaginal felicity does seem a little extreme. In fact, her claim about a great vagina heist is reminiscent of all those hysterical “a bra-burner took my baby” outbursts made by women such as ABC presenter Virginia Hausegger a couple of years back.
Tom’s entire essay is definitely worth a read and a hearty, resounding and appreciative snort.
It’s astonishing the lengths to which anti-feminist men and women (and sometimes theoretically pro-feminist men, progressives, and some feminist women) will go to, pardon my French, make shit up about “70s feminists” so-called. The creativity, dishonesty, and malignity of the lies stun.
“70s feminists” never suggested — EVER — that women’s sexual pleasure, including orgasms, was only about their clitorises. That is absolute fiction, if I’m being diplomatic, and it’s a straight up goddamn lie if I’m not. “70s feminists” — some of them, some really brilliant ones — suggested the precise OPPOSITE. They said our women’s bodies, in their entirety: clits, labia, vaginas, cervixes, skin, arms, legs, feet, hair, hands, faces, mouth, back, shoulders, brains, minds, emotions — are, or are potentially, erogenous, sexually responsive and sites of pleasure, and deserve attention and consideration during heterosexual sexual intimacy. (Lesbians didn’t need to be told about all of this, they’d known it for the longest.) These “70s feminists” so-called certainly did suggest that, for example, women are a bit more likely to have orgasms when their clitorises receive a bit of stimulation, ya know, than when, for example, everything but the vagina is ignored by male partners in the course of treating women’s bodies as masturbatory aids along the lines of “Fleshlights” and calling that “sex” and “intimacy.” They suggested that many women’s clitorises were a long way from Tipperary, to wit, their vaginas, and that when the vagina was the only body part visited by male partners, women missed out. They suggested that women are unique, different, that different things are pleasing to different women. Especially they suggested, and reported, that a whole lot of women were getting NOTHING out of het sex. Why would they suggest such a heinous thing? Because it was true! Because they talked to women, knew women, were women, conducted extensive studies in which they interviewed women, and most of all, because they cared about women. Their point was not to impugn or malign vaginas. Their point was that a woman is — hello — more than a vagina.
How does the amazing work these feminists did, truly groundbreaking, liberating in so many ways, somehow get morphed into 70s feminists being “clit-obsessed oppressors”? It was, is, and forever more shall be, world without end, amen, a no-brainer that women themselves know what they, themselves enjoy. Who in the universe EVER suggested that women who had orgasms as a result of traditional sexual intercourse with men should stop having them, should worry about them, or should stop enjoying them? Whoever suggested, or would have, that what is not broken should be fixed? The concern was that thousands and millions of het women were enduring sex they found painful, did not want, did not enjoy, but felt they had no option but to endure, it was their wifely duty, there was probably something wrong with them that they didn’t enjoy sex. Their concern was that thousands and millions of het women had been having sex for decades, throughout their adult lives, and had never had an orgasm, even ONCE. Their concern was that women deserved to enjoy sex!
I am not going to waste any time responding directly to anything in Bettina Hall’s anti-feminist screed. There are too many lies, there is too much distortion, it is again, some more, still, so much propaganda, beginning with the fiction that it was Shere Hite’s work which was the groundbreaker (although in many ways it was groundbreaking.) It was actually Ann Koedt’s work, The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm, written in 1968, which was groundbreaking. Shere Hite’s research came later, the work of many other fine feminist women came later. The results were that heterosexual women, in particular, but women in general, realized that there was nothing wrong with them, they were not the only women who did not enjoy sex with their male partners, most women did not enjoy sex with their male partners. The results were that they were en-couraged, given the courage, to explore their own bodies without shame for the first time, to ask their partners for what they wanted during sex, for the first time, and especially, to speak up about the fact that they didn’t enjoy sex with their partners. The results were that they found the courage to refuse sex that they didn’t want to have, and to call rape, rape.
Whoever in the titles department at The Australian it might have been who titled Hall’s essay, “Climactic Research Leads to Seminal Moment,” was absolutely correct. But he should have just spared us the pun and gone ahead and spelled “seminal”, “semen-al.” The research at issue, or Hall’s reading of its results, was definitely “semen-al,” guaranteed to delight and inspire male supremacists of all stripes and their female devotees as well.