Women should embrace their sexuality

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., (U-Wire) — Vagina. Say it loudly. Say it clearly. For too long, women have been afraid to refer to this part of their anatomies by the medically correct term. Euphemisms such as “pee pee” and “woo woo” are too often used for vagina, which is central to women’s sexual identities.
Women should explore and assert their sexuality. How many of you know what your vagina looks like? It is a part of you; it is a part of your body. Find it. Explore it. It is your center. Without it, you would not be the same.
Before my message is misinterpreted, I want to stress that I am not simply addressing the vagina as a woman’s sexual center. Sex is not sexuality, and sexuality is not sex. They are not interchangeable concepts. Sex is intercourse. Sexuality is thought, emotions, ideas about one’s self and body.
Centuries of male domination have limited women’s exploration into their own sexuality.
Even though we are liberated women in the sense that we are “equal” to men in the eyes of the Constitution, male concepts of female sexuality still dominate American culture, particularly through the powerful voices of the media.
Visual commercial advertisements, both in TV and magazines, are proliferated with negative and unrealistic representations of women.
Beer advertisements are notorious for prominently displaying half-naked women with ample cleavage. For example, the “Miller Girl” ad campaign featured model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos wearing very little and sitting seductively in what seems to be a beach locale. The caption reads: “Miller is a type of beer, just like Rebecca is a type of girl.”
By equating beer, an object, with women, this advertisement is not just trying to sell beer. It is trying to sell an idea with the beer in hopes that the consumer will connect that idea with that particular brand of beer: Women, like beer, are a commodity, meant to be used up by men as they would any other good bought at a store.
Many dismiss the negative images of women projected by advertisements by saying, “Oh, it’s only an ad,” but multiply that one ad by the millions we see each year, and in reality, the media are one of the most powerful forces in American lives.
Because we are such a visual society, these media messages contribute to and heavily influence the way both men and women see the female body.
Collectively, Americans see the female body as an object, as chunks of flesh not necessarily connected to a face, a head, a brain, a person. Women’s breasts, legs, buttocks and vaginas are depicted in the media, from Cosmopolitan to Penthouse, as separate parts not necessarily connected to a real, existing person with valid feelings and thoughts, and as such, perpetuate the concept that a woman’s physical attributes are the only things that matter.
What does this have to do with the word vagina, you ask? A lot. By refusing to use euphemisms for such an important concept of female sexuality, women are taking a stand against hundreds of decades of oppression that prescribe coyness for women but encourage aggressiveness for men.
For too long, women have been persecuted for their bodies and punished for their interest in them.
During the witch trials in colonial America, a lawyer proved a woman’s guilt as a witch by using her clitoris as evidence in a public trial and proclaiming it a work of the devil.
Granted, this was before the days of gynecological examinations and anatomy classes, but this persecution still occurs today, the most extreme in the form of female genital mutilation.
By not feeling ashamed when you say vagina, others will feel less ashamed to hear vagina, and soon it can be said without hesitation, embarrassment or fear of social censure.
By saying vagina in a straightforward manner, it can reflect the essence of female sexuality as defined by women and not merely conjure sexual images.
So don’t be afraid to say it. Say it in a way that shows you are not ashamed. Say it in a way that shows you are proud of your sexuality.
Bask in your femininity. Revel in your gender. We are women, and we are beautiful. Including our vaginas.
Patricia Tisak’s column originally appeared in Friday’s Pennsylvania State University paper, the Daily Collegian.