Sunday 1 January 2012

Happy New Year, Happy Bodies!

Hello all, and a very Happy 2012! Hope you enjoyed your Hogmanay as much as I did.

Some of you may have noticed that the troll Crevan Ferrigno has reappeared with some more nonsense about the undesirability of labia minora. This time the Arizonan labiaplasty surgeon,  who also goes by the name of  Dr Michael Goodman informs us that labia are a health risk...and suggests also that surgery would keep us 'fresh'. It's hard not to get angry with this prejudiced little man, but one of my new year's resolutions is to control my temper so I'm not going to tackle him (just yet).

Instead I want to start the new year on a positive note. So I'm sharing this gorgeous photo site which one of you has emailed me as a link. It made me smile, and I hope it will you too.

So the guys don't feel left out, here's a little something for you. It's a poem about the amazing human body by an African-American poet named Yusef Komunyakaa.

It's nice to remember as we turn the New Year, that while America has given us War on the Body, and the idea of genital skin as a weapon of mass destruction, it redeems itself in a million little acts of creativity like this.

On the subject of creativity, next time I'm going to take a look at the vulval knitters of Hoxton.

lots of love

Sunday 28 August 2011

A cut too far

Today's Independent on Sunday includes an article by Claudia Pritchard criticising the labiaplasty trend, and highlighting a new form of female cutting - the so-called 'Toronto Trim' - which excises the clitoral hood as well as the labia.

It's good to see criticism of the pressure on women to get their vulvas reduced but the article falls short of the analysis I'd like to see in the media. As with so many articles about male circumcision the author's critique is weakened by the fact that she doesn't seem to have considered what the tissue is or does... It would be easy for a surgeon to counter her position by claiming that labiaplasty is no different from a nose job...

The reality is our genitals are not like our noses. I've got a roman nose but its size and shape does not affect my ability to smell. My labial form gives me huge pleasure, including direct stimulation, indirect clitoral pressure, and of course the vicarious pleasure of watching a man treat them as his toy...or even his lost foreskin.


Sunday 8 May 2011

Erotic Awards Finals

I'm proud to be among an amazing collection of artists, writers, campaigners and entertainers who have been nominated for an Erotic Award. Click here to find out more

I particularly love the idea of the Great Wall of Vagina - a collection of plastercasts on show in Brighton to illustrate the beauty and diversity of the female genitalia. I also love this strapline, "It's not vulgar, it's vulva!

Sunday 3 April 2011

Thank Goodness for Lippy Mothers

My mother is a lippy woman - in both senses - and I would not be writing this today if it hadn't been for her great attitude. So I'd like to say thank you mum, for making me feel pleased with what I've got; especially my hottentot apron.

Surgeons like to tell us that long labia can result from hormonal changes, or physical damage done through childbirth, cycling, or excessive masturbation*. This plants the idea of a disease requiring treatment. Although clearly hormonal changes or stress to the tissue (including manual stretching) can substantially increase labia minora size, I haven't seen any research showing that this is the reason why most lippy girls are lippy. We just are.

When my mother first washed me as a tiny newborn baby she saw prominent lips just like hers. When my sister arrived a few years later she was cuter, blonder; less skinny; but down there just the same.

How lucky to have a mother who isn't worried about being like everyone else! Far from thinking there was something wrong with us and we needed to be reduced, when she changed the nappies of friends' daughters' she considered they were missing something: " looked just like a little bottom!".

Thanks mum, and here's your flower for Mothers' Day, from a National Collection of simply beautiful rhododendrons. Lots of love L xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

*No I don't know what excessive masturbation is either. I've often wondered.

Sunday 20 February 2011

X-rated Flowers

This close-up of a petunia bud is one of Nex Ninek's striking natural world images on Flickr (used with permission of the photographer). Check them out

All flowers are wonderful things (with the possible exception of those drooping dyed lilies you get at the local garage). So I think that whether you're a petunia or a penstemon, a daisy or a dahlia, you should be proud.

And whatever you do, stay away from Morticia Addams and her scissors.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

The Rise of the Intimate Nip/Tuck

Lippy girl is out there! I have a mention in the August edition of Red, which reveals that labiaplasties on the National Health Service have more than doubled in two years.

The article quotes gynaecologist Dr Deborah Boyle who says, "labia is not just additional skin that's redundant". Hurrah for doctors who know about female anatomy!! 

Dr Boyle also comments, "it's sensitive, and some people have orgasms which originate in part from the vulva." Again hurrah, but why is this treated as a medical revelation several million years after we first started enjoying our flappy bits...? 

The article also quotes 'Anna', a woman who has undergone labiaplasty because she 'dreaded' sex;  and who is presented as an example of why labiaplasty is a valid choice. Even Dr Boyle comes down for it in the end, implying she sees some strong women who are determined to amputate, some so much that 'they'd consider doing it to themselves'.

I've got some sympathy for the informed choice argument. But Dr Boyle needs a challenge here, in the light of legislation which states labiaplasty may not be performed without medical reason, notwithstanding a woman's desires - or even her threats of DIY. And also because there have been no public sightings of that creature she mentions: the informed assertive women who chooses labiaplasty as a positive option. Show me the evidence!

Anna I'm sorry to say is not the one. 

She begins, quite petulantly, by stating that labiaplasty is not a female circumcision, 'it's just not'. Wrong. The WHO clearly defines removal of the labia minora as a type IIa female genital mutilation (FGM). This surgery forms 8% of FGM in Egypt, where cutting has been dominated by medics since the 1990s or earlier. When finally in 2007 the Egyptian government closed the medical loophole, they banned any "cut of, flattening or modification of any natural part of the female reproductive system". Clearly labiaplasty was in their sights...

Anna's follow up rings equally hollow as a demonstration of knowledge and empowerment. She says that labia are, 'just excess skin that's unsightly'. The first point is not correct, and the second is a scattergun insult. Neither ignorance nor aggression are generally considered hallmarks of empowerment. 

As regards Dr Boyle's position, it should be said that the UK FGM Act 2003 is clear that many women buy into cutting practices (in all their multifarious forms) - Clause 2 explicitly rules out the threat of DIY cutting as a doctor's defence. The Act protects, "any part of .... labia majora, labia minora or clitoris".

However a loophole has been built into our FGM law. It denies women the right to present a belief in 'custom or ritual' as a reason for tissue excision, but fails to legislate against the equally crazy/misogynistic/unscientific Caucasian view that women should just be a neat little hole.... 

As such it seems to have been designed to protect the Western (and mainly white run) labiaplasty industry, rather than female empowerment per se.

The distinctions in the act raise an interesting challenge for doctors. Imagine that the next patient who visits Dr Boyle to demand labial excision is an educated professional of Egyptian origin, and a member of a family in which each generation has undergone automatic excision to be (as she sees it) beautifully smooth, clean and feminine.
Where then for autonomy? 

Sunday 13 June 2010

Labiaplasty and racism

I hope you'll take some time to read my page 'What is a Hottentot Apron?'. This tells the story of Saartjie Baartman and her compatriots, who were reviled by white Europeans for being way too lippy; and way too happy about it.

Anyone would be horrified reading Saartjie's story. Like the history of phrenology it reveals the horrible lengths Europeans have gone to to fabricate a scientific rationale for their prejudice. But I have an extra reason to empathise, because we are genital sisters, Saartjie and I.

The fact that I am a white European and the possessor of a 'hottentot apron', has inspired me to try to right some wrongs and in honour of Saartjie and her sisters to turn hatred into celebration.

We've become accustomed to hearing the term 'hypertrophic labia' and think it's a genuine medical diagnosis. The reality is it isn't. The term appears to have gained currency in the 16th century as a way to categorise certain women as not just physically abnormal, but also sexually and racially deviant (see this article which explains it all much more eloquently than I can)

And yet... have you ever seen this misognyist history represented in any programmes/articles about labiaplasty? I'd bet not, I certainly haven't. Putting this in context remember that labiaplasty is a type IIa female genital mutilation which doctors are forbidden even to promote, because it is harmful and rooted in the desire to suppress female sexuality.

Dontcha love white folks' hypocrisy!? Here are some quotes from doctors practising in Britain, as an illustration that the ghost of past prejudice stalks our surgeries, operating theatres (and television studios):

"They have these things's terribly embarrassing....they need to be made normal" - Dalia Nield

"Let's do the standing up test....[on viewing the labia while the patient is standing] ... they're sticking right down and normally you wouldn't get that appearance" Pixie McKenna.

[Labiaplasty] "leaves behind an elegant looking labia". Douglas McGeorge. He added, [just to remind us what we're for]: "Lads' mags are looked at by girlfriends, and make them think more about the way they look."

"for women with serious hypertrophy - when the tissue is dark and hangs down - there is a simple way to deal with it." Angelica Kavouni. [what exactly is it you find so medically problematic about dark skin Angelica? Do tell...?]

I'm going to keep collecting these quotes, and will be putting them in my next letter to the General Medical Council and the British Medical Association about this subject. Please do send me more examples as you find them.