Many cultures have celebrated the vagina. Many more have feared it. Image Rights: Badmimi.com
In the past week, Facebook deleted a number of pages from their website, ostensibly due to their concerns about the sexual nature of the material. Interestingly, the organization appears to have primarily targeted the pages of several women and female sexuality organizations with Facebook pages. It may be that there were male-run pages deleted that I haven't heard about, but at this point, I'm only aware of sites that were focused on the lovely vagina, and that celebrated female sexual empowerment.
My dear friends at Self Serve, a women-owned and run sexuality resources center (toys, books, videos, educational materials and gear, all in a wonderful positive, safe and welcoming environment) had their Facebook page taken down because of a video they posted about the "fad" of labiaplasty. Labiaplasty is a cosmetic surgery, where women have their genitals surgically altered to be "more attractive," and fit the ideal image of a vagina (whatever that is). Matie, Molly and Alee walk the viewer through the physical risks and dangers of this surgery, and educate them about the diversity of the female genitalia. The video contains images of the female vulva, from Betty Dodson's work, when she began educating women years ago, about how to love themselves and their bodies. The video has a heartfelt message, urging women to love their bodies as they are, and not to give in to mutilation to fit an unrealistic, and uncommon ideal based upon porn. Check out their video and website, and support them in their defense of female sexuality.
Violet Blue is a sexuality activist, writer, and educator, whose Facebook page dedicated to women who celebrate and enjoy sexuality and pornography, was also deleted. Blue had over three thousand Facebook members supporting her page, and had worked hard to comply with Facebook's rules. She was given no advance notice and no explanation of why her page was deleted. Blue wrote a letter to Facebook, as yet unanswered.
So what's going on here? In the past few months, Facebook has attacked and deleted pages with breasts, breastfeeding, naked female dolls, and now Ms. Blue's page and the Self Serve video that tries to educate women to love themselves and their vulvas. Does Facebook have a problem with female sexuality?
In the past, men feared the “vagina dentate,” an almost universal myth that suggested that women's vaginas were not only dangerous, but actually contained teeth that could bite off the penis of any man so foolish as to insert it in the woman's body. A very rare congenital abnormality can in fact create tumorous cysts near the opening of a female’s vagina, which could resemble teeth, but the global prevalence of this mythical symbol is believed to have much more to do with a general fear of female sexuality.
In the folklore, men combated these toothed vaginas, much as knights fought monsters. In a Jicarilla legend from New Mexico, the boy hero fed sour berries to the women's hungry vaginas, which ended up destroying their teeth (remember good dental hygiene!), while in a legend from India, the boy hero used an iron tube like an indestructible dildo, to knock out the teeth that lurked in the vagina of a demon female. In her marvelous book, The Story of V, Catherine Blackledge recounts similar stories in a history of the vagina. She describes that all of these tales carry similar meaning: “pulling vaginal teeth is a metaphor for how some men would like to make women meek and biddable, remolded in a shape defined by them. In these stories, instead of shaming her into submission, physical means are used to tame her sexuality.”
Is Facebook hurting itself with these actions and hurting women? Will women start leaving this site, and heading to social networking sites that are more accepting of female sexuality? I've heard from many Insatiable Wives, who have left Facebook, for sites where they can freely celebrate their sexuality. Who's next? And where does it stop? If Facebook was a client, sitting on my couch, I think I'd be asking "How was your relationship with your mother?" and "Do you think you stopped breastfeeding too early?"
And by the way - an alternative to cutting off your vagina (vulva actually) is to love it. Visit Badmimi where they have a number of ways that you can celebrate your body and vagina.