Did there really need to be another book about vaginas? Uh, yes. There will always need to be more books about vaginas. And women's bodies in general, really. And when it's a book of funny, relatable essays written by Kat George, then we need it even more. Pink Bits, an e-book published by Thought Catalog, is an autobiography of sorts, kind of a walk down memory lane for George, only "memory lane" is, um, a vagina. Aahh! It's hard not to read this book without obsessing over vaginas for quite some time after. But that's kind of the beauty of it, I think, because the closer you look at something, the more comfortable you become with it, the less stigmas you attach to it, and the more capable we can all be to feel good about our bodies and less judgmental about those belonging to the women around us. And feeling good, as we all know, is never a bad thing. But so, I talked with George about her book, being a woman, and, of course, VAGINAS.
So, vaginas. As you so memorably put it, we have almost all, at one point, had "our cheeks smushed against bloodied labia." And yet, vaginas are talked about far less than penises, or even assholes. What inspired you to want to, so to speak, shed some light on this body part?
As a vagina owner, I'm always finding myself very frustrated when people are turning up their noses at the mere mention of menzies or flaps or minge or cunt. No one bats an eyelid should I drop dick or cock or penis or bum or poop into a conversation. But for some reason, people (men and women inclusive) find vaginas to be very off-putting. Well. To these people, I want to say: "You came out of one. Your face was pressed through a vagina. So NER NER NER." If I could do something with my writing to dispel a little bit of the horror inspired by the vagina, that would make me very happy. Just to let people know there's nothing weird going on here, vaginas are chill, and not to be afraid. Also to help women rid themselves of some of the shame that's some along with centuries of vaginas being treated with such disdain.
As a kid, you had a lot of misconceptions about the ins-and-outs of sex (ahhh…sorry about this and all other puns, it's so hard not to do that when discussing sex, but I'll try), like thinking an orgasm felt like unleashing a particularly satisfying snot rocket or that rape had something to do with gardening tools. This was super familiar to me, the weird fill-in-the-blank aspect of childhood sex knowledge, but then I realized that this isn't universal among children anymore. They can find out everything via Google! This makes me weirdly sad and nostalgic. Anyway, do you think this is weirdly sad or nostalgic? Or do you think kids will benefit from learning about sex from the Internet?
Kids growing up with the Internet are certainly far less cute than sex-dumb me was at thirteen. I mean, my naivety was pretty adorable in retrospect. I do think it's sad, but maybe that's just because I have Captain Hindsight on my side. In many ways, it must be very liberating, especially for kids struggling with their sexuality. Imagine questioning your sexuality at 14, being able to get online and find other people in your situation, and communicate with them, or just simply being able to read about other experiences. There are definitely some benefits to having that kind of sex education at your finger tips. At the same time however, I think a lot of kids are also just going to watch a lot of fucked up porn things, and never discuss it with an adult, because as we've already established, kids are too stupid, embarrassed and afraid to ask adults about sex stuff. So there will also be a lot of kids going around with this really warped notion of what sex looks like.
You talk a little bit about how gross girls can be (peeing everywhere, smearing period blood, etc.), which is, I think, liberating because you don't deny the fact that while vaginas and girls' bodies are nothing to be afraid of, they are also, potentially, kind of disgusting. What do you think it means though that girls, who are generally supposed to be "cleaner" than boys, can get super dirty in private spheres (like bathrooms) although they would never do so in public?
I think it's got a lot to do with how we're conditioned socially and culturally. Girls are supposed to be soft and pretty, seen and not heard, while men can be uncouth and brutish at will, and without shame. The amount of times I've heard people say stupid crap like "Girls don't poop" makes me crazy. Of course we poop. We do big hard ones, bigger than any penis I've ever seen; we do splattery yellowish water ones; we do horrible, post-booze slimy stinky ones. We do all the kinds of poops there are, but as far as polite society is concerned, none of this actually happens. Instead, some little poop gnomes, under the over of night, sneak into out rooms while we're sleeping, our shiny hair splayed delicately over floral cushions, and very quietly and cleanly expunge our bowels using gnome magic. I remember in high school a boy would fart loudly in class, and all the other boys would hoot and holler and pound him on the back in congratulations. If a girl did the same, she'd be excommunicated. So I guess when we're alone we want to do all the nasty shit we've been watching men do in front of our faces all day. My thing is picking: pimples, in grown hairs, nose. Picking is fun.
Ultimately, this book is about the journey that many women take in learning to accept, and, hopefully, even love their bodies. Do you think this is a lifelong process? What have been some of the most important things that have happened to you in your adult life that have made you get closer to being, well, happy with yourself?
I'd love to say it ends one day. I'd love to say one day you wake up and you feel the way Helen Mirren feels; and maybe you do. I'm not there yet! The way I see it, a woman's body is constantly morphing, and it continues to morph right up to menopause. Men's bodies grow and change, sure, but I feel like the various child-birth related changes that happen to a woman's body are far more apparent, and definitely take their toll, more than chest hair and a deep voice do on men. Women have to be so in tune with their bodies. You have to listen to it, and cultivate it, and take it to get a pap smear all the time. I don't know that men have the same worries about uteruses and babies that we do—maybe a second hand worry, but their bodies aren't little homes for children, and I think that makes a difference in person to body relationships that we're often too PC about gender equality to address. On top of all the cervix, boob, egg etc health that women have to deal with, we're also flooded by the media and people around us telling us what a female body should look like and what it should be able to do.
Since I've been an adult, which sometimes I sincerely can't say has been for more than 5 minutes, I've learned to be OK with the way my body looks. The thing is, I'd love to be skinnier and toner and tanner and taller. All the good "T" things. But I'm not, and what's more is that eating a whole bag of salt and vinegar Kettle chips is way more important to me than being any of those things. It honestly is. So I guess rather than there being a defining moment, it's more of a slow realization that I am happy in my life—I like the things that I have and the things that I do—and I am not interested in changing my life in order to have a flatter belly. When I'm old, I figure that the memory of being out with friends, drinking beers and gorging on tacos all summer is going to be more magical than only being able to remember a taut tummy, or the subtle feeling of constant hunger.
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