This International Women’s Day 2020, I’m thrilled to announce my book celebrating the power and beauty of the vagina and ‘raising the skirt’ stories – Raising the Skirt: the Unsung Power of the Vagina – is now available for a new generation of women. Here’s why being born with a vagina does not mean you are worth less.
There is a moment every person born with a vagina shares. It is a moment that changes and shapes female lives irrevocably. It is the moment when you realise there is something about you that means you are valued and treated differently to a specific group of people around you – those that have a penis.
This moment of understanding typically comes early in a girl’s life. My moment happened while I was at primary school. I have two sisters and two brothers: my brothers had bikes but I wasn’t allowed to (it was considered unsafe for girls), and they got away with doing far less work around the house and still received the same amount of pocket money as my sisters and I.
These facts angered and puzzled me. As far as I could see, my vagina was the only difference between my brothers and myself. Did vagina equal bad and penis good? Without anyone telling me otherwise, it was an easy conclusion to reach. I don’t think I am alone in this – placing my negative feelings about being female on my vagina; believing I was worth less because I have a vagina.
Having made the correlation vagina equals bad, how difficult is it for any girl or woman to feel fully appreciative about possessing female genitalia? How can we ever enjoy our vaginas to their greatest extent if, deep down, unconsciously, we believe our vagina is the root of pain and inequality in our life? How to heal that vaginal wound?
Now imagine a world where every parent, guardian, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend tells their children radically different stories about what it means to have a vagina. Stories fostering a sense of pride and potency in being female. Stories valuing female genitalia, valuing girls and women. Stories revealing the vagina to be the ultimate symbol of female power. These stories exist: they are ‘raising the skirt’ stories. Every female should know them.
Accounts of how mighty the vagina is – raising the skirt stories – are astonishingly common and long-standing: look at the history, folklore or mythology of any country or culture and you’ll soon find them. Vaginas, the raising the skirt stories all say, are so powerful that if a woman lifts her skirt to reveal her genitalia she can make a vast array of extraordinary actions happen.
Displaying the vagina in this way gives women the power to control the elements: calming the sea to protect sea-faring spouses, subduing storms, and quieting and dispelling whirlwinds, hailstorms and lightning. Raising the skirt is also an apotropaic act – capable of averting evil: vaginal display scares away attacking bears or lions, exorcises demons and drives out the devil.
These tales of vaginal derring-do are just one variety of ‘raising the skirt’ tales to tell your daughters, nieces, grand-daughters and friends. Twenty-first century accounts of how mighty the vagina actually is are just as potent and empowering and stem from biology, genetics and reproductive science.
The idea of the vagina as a passive vessel, a simple sheath to surround the penis, is one of science’s greatest misconceptions. What science is now revealing is that female genitalia are all about control – active control – and that the internally-fertilising female is a supremely successful sexual and reproductive strategist.
The vagina, we should shout from the roof tops, is a muscular marvel of engineering – sensitive and strong, fluid and flexible. Every girl should know the exquisitely-sensitive clitoris is a genital guardian angel: preparing a female’s genitalia, via sexual arousal, to accept and maintain the presence of a penis, safely. (Likewise, a male’s clitoris ensures the penis can gain non-damaging access to a female’s interior.)
Courtesy of the queenly clitoris, incredible, internal musculature and miraculous mucosal secretions, sex is a fluid, flexible, safe and sensory affair. The mind-blowing potential of female orgasm – women are far more multi-orgasmic than men – is a direct result of the extreme sensitivity of the female clitoris and complex, strong pelvic muscles. Childbirth is only possible thanks to impressive uterine muscle strength and virtuoso vaginal flexibility. There is so much to be proud of between our legs.
What studies of other species are uncovering about the vagina is even more awe-inspiring. Internally-fertilising females control copulation, conception, and determine paternity and birth of offspring. Because sex, insemination and fertilisation all take place within the female’s body, it is the female’s sexual biology and behaviour that set the ground rules for successful sexual reproduction. In this game of life, females are always playing ‘at home’; it is the female’s big, brooding body and her enormous egg against a mass of miniscule sperm.
It’s now appreciated that the vagina is very far from being a simple conduit for the safe passage of sperm in one direction and offspring in the other. Instead, female genitalia are remarkably efficient and precise sperm-sorting machines, capable of acting as both sperm bodyguard and bouncer, able to route, store, nourish and destroy sperm, and ultimately controlling which sperm get a chance to be chosen by the egg.
Twenty-first century science’s ‘raising the skirt’ story is that the true function of female genitalia is to enable females to sample and select the sperm of many males in order to find the sperm that is most compatible with them. The vagina is the arena where males are forced to reveal their fitness to be fathers. In this way, the vagina enshrines the most important job in life – ensuring the optimum health of offspring and thus the survival of the species. That’s why the vagina is the ultimate symbol of female power, fertility and survival.
My hope for this new edition of Raising the Skirt, launched on 20 February 2020 in honour of International Women’s day 2020, is that your daughter, niece, grand-daughter, cousin or friend will stand proud too, know her might and tell everyone around her about the power of the vagina. This International Women’s Day, raise the skirt: reclaim your power.
Raising the Skirt: the Unsung Power of the Vagina is available from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2TycstS