Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Questions Answered

Mary has a wonderful review of an amazing book called Body Drama on her blog over at Resident Alien. Please, go there and read her review. I'll wait.

Doesn't that sound like an amazing book for every young woman? I remember knowing I could ask my mother anything at all, but really not wanting to do so. Mary hit the nail on the head about the locker room viewing. Not only do we all make it a point not to be caught looking at one another's genitalia, but how in the world does one see another girl's vulva?

Besides, junior high school locker rooms were horrible places full of embarrassment and cruelty...and from my point of view, especially so for early developing, plump girls without tan lines (that would be me).

My brothers (and later in life, many other boys I knew!) seemed so proud of their penises...but what I had was tucked away and secret. Mom tells me that when I was two, I asked what that was between my baby brother's legs, and why didn't I have one? Dad was not amused when I met him at the front door that evening (along with his dinner guest, The Boss), with a book clenched betweeen my thighs, exclaiming "see Daddy, I have a penis!"

Was what I had between my legs normal? What did it look like? What did other women look like? I was probably 16 when I found a copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves at a friend's house, and read it immediately. When I went home, I used a mirror, as suggested, to take a look. It was the first time I'd ever seen any woman's vulva, not just my own.

"OH!" I remember thinking. "The pee comes out there, not there!" Looking back, I realize now that I should have known so much more about my own body, and at a much younger age. Would it have changed some of my decisions as a teenager? Perhaps. Would it have helped me feel less like a freak, and less embarrassed by my own body? I think it would have.

Our sisters, daughters, granddaughters, nieces and friends need to know these things. It's hard to ask Mom, or Aunt Sally, or even cool older sister these things...and even if Mom or Aunt Sally or older sister tells them these things, there's a good chance of the advice being dismissed (sort of like "sure, Mom says I'm pretty...but she's just MOM.")

But if a well-written, interesting and informative book tells them about the dangers of tanning, the drawbacks to tattoos, and the honest truth about VD, perhaps they will listen. If we want them to be strong, independent, courageous young women in charge of their own bodies and lives, they MUST know these things.

Thank you again for your fine words, Mary. Now, to figure out if my sister-in-law will freak out if I give this book to my nieces now, or if I should quietly give it to my mother, so they can read it on visits to Jammy's house.

Either way, this is a book they need to have.