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I'll Show You Mine....

Jessie Fano's picture

I'll Show You Mine

Ok. I won't (I'm anonymous, remember?), but 60 other women will show you pictures of their vulvas in the book I'll Show You Mine, by Wrenna Robertson and Katie Huisman.

This is a fascinating book, and not just because of the pictures of naked lady parts - which is pretty interesting, I must say. It's fascinating because of the variety of women's experiences with their genitals and the motivations of the writers to show women (and men) what "real women" look like. Most importantly, it left me with a personal question about sharing the book. It's a great educational tool, but should I share it with my sons? My local library? Am I pushing something my husband will consider porn on them? Will I be a hypocrite if I don't?

Warning: Explicit (though tasteful) language and pictures below.

Why show?

One might ask, "why take pictures of vulvas and put them in a book?" for any number of reasons. You might think it's weird, or kinky, or boring or pornographic or just... unnecessary. But after thinking about it, reading the stories of the women, and learning about the increasing use of plastic surgery on our pussies, I'd have to say that there's a very good reason for women to know what other women look like. Namely, we all look normal, no matter what we look like.

The authors of this book make the point that the prevalence of pornography on the internet is doing to Pussy what Barbie did to Boobie. Most of us that grew up before the Internet tend to think of female beauty as something off the magazine cover - the Barbie look. Of course, real world Barbie is physically unhealthy and many of the models that perpetuate her look in the flesh are unhealthy too. But that doesn't stop us from wishing we were just as "beautiful."

Prior to the Internet, most of us probably didn't think too much about Barbie's pussy. But now that porn is so readily available (the authors of this book say that "among young people, nearly 100% of boys and 75% of girls have viewed pornography by the age of 18"), the perfectly sculpted little hairless, lipless porn pussy is all the rage. So much so that women are going to plastic surgeons to get their pussy sliced. Eeeesh. Lissa feels strongly this is a bad idea and I do too. Robertson says that this trend is even picking up in the stripping community, adding vaginal rejuvenation to breast implants as the lengths strippers will go to in order to look like a stripper is "supposed to."

So why show what normal pussies look like in a book? Well, where else will you get a chance to see them? It's not like most women run around naked and spreading their legs for their girlfriends (at least not in my circles). (Actually, there is another place to see them, which is on the Great Wall of Vagina art project, which is very cool too.)

What the book is - and isn't

The book is billed as a "unique public resource - the only book available that accurately and objectively displays the beautiful diversity of the female genitalia." It's not air brushed or even filtered. The women each discuss their vaginas in real terms, mixing in visions of their self image with their sexual experience. Some are empowering, others are heartbreaking. Many are both and all are interesting. There is, for example, a touching story by a Male-to-Female transexual (including a picture of her cute little cooch) where she explains the surgery and celebrates her joy at no longer having a penis, loving her body and enjoying sex now more than ever.

The book is about variety in women's bodies and it does a beautiful job of showing all sizes, colors, hair-lengths, lip-lengths, piercing options and exposures of our lady parts. I have to say, being a porn watcher for reasons I'll explain in another post, that I found the pictures eye-opening - particularly on the subject of the length of inner labia lips. I found Lissa's post Love Your Vulva wonderful and informative, but the picture there wasn't nearly as clear as the pictures in this book.  I've also read her posts on knowing your pussy parts (have you gotten out the mirror?) and 20 things to know about your vagina but I can't say I could ever visualize exactly what longer labia lips actually looked like. Now I finally really understand what she was talking about when she said that some inner labia lips are long. Mine aren't - and neither are the ones in the porn films I've seen - so finally it was this book that helped me understand what that means. I feel so enlightened! And in fact I find the longer lipped look quite interesting. It turns out that (to me) longer labia actually look like mature sexual organs instead little baby girl parts.

 

The book is not prurient. It does not promote a particular lifestyle as far as I can tell. Heterosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, sex workers, transexuals, married women, unmarried women, black, white and brown - we're all represented there equally.

What to do

I came away from the experience of reading the book feeling good about it. I thought, "this is a good education tool and if I had daughters I'd share it with them." Then I remembered all the stories the women told about how the men in their lives had so strongly affected their view of themselves and their genitals. And I realized that I, too, had developed a relationship with my pussy very much as a result of how the lovers in my life had reacted (luckily all the positive response outweighed an abuse incident as a child and the general "shhhhhhhhh" attitude of the culture I live in.)

That's when it occurred to me that perhaps I have a duty to share this with my two teenage sons. Not as porn or prurient interest (though i suspect there might be some whacking off after the fact, which is fine with me.) I mean, if 100% of boys have been exposed to the Barbie Porn Pussy by the time they're 18, shouldn't they see what real women are like and what they're likely to encounter? They took a year long sex ed course (offered by our UU Church and highly recommended for 13 year olds!) so I'm pretty sure they've seen stuff like this before. But should I rely on outsourced sex ed? Is this my duty as a mom to make sure they get healthy exposure to normalcy? Hmmmm.

This isn't a unilateral decision I can make. I plan to bring it up to my husband sometime soon and suggest it. Should make for some interesting conversation. I'll report back however it goes.

I also am wondering if I should donate the book to the Library. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they consider THAT book! Hmmm. Maybe I'll request a meeting with the librarian and present my case. If I do, I'll report back on that too:) More than likely I'll donate it to the Church's sex ed program.

BTW: Out of curiosity I just shaved closer than I ever had. I was curious about what my lips did look like. Even though my inner lips are pretty short, one does slightly peek out when I"m standing straight. It's kinda cute. I think I look most like Kelley:) Tonight we'll see what hubby thinks. (Note: He liked it!)

What do you think? Would you read this book? Would you share it with your kids - girls or boys? Would you have posed for the book (no faces or last names)? What does this bring up for you? Feel free to share anonymously in comments below or to me via email at jessiefano at gmail dot com.

I'll Show You Mine is available on Amazon. If can also purchase a copy from the Showoff Books website

-Jess

Researcher of WTF? Questions You'd Ask Your Sex Therapist If Only You Had One? Got a question? Ask me! (Twitter @JessieFano)

Comments

Kathy's picture

For most of my sheltered life

For most of my sheltered life I thought my labia were normal, having not been exposed to many (any?) others. Enter the new boyfriend who is shocked at the size of my lips. Ouch. Curious, I check out a few porn sites. Ah yes, indeed, my are large while theirs are cute and tidy. Eye opening and a bit saddening. Suddenly I can relate to how a guy feels when his 'member' is not as large as he would like. I welcome this book. I welcome the pictures of the real women, real labia, some hopefully proud to be large like me. I will have to check out the book for myself.

Jessie Fano's picture

Thanks for your story

Kathy
Thanks dfor sharing your perspective. I think you have expressed very well what the authors were striving for - to give us realistic perspectives on our most intimate and private parts. Definitely check out the book and know that you are beautiful and normal exactly the way you are.

-Jess

Researcher of WTF? Questions You'd Ask Your Sex Therapist If Only You Had One? Got a question? Ask me! (Twitter @JessieFano)

Jessie Fano's picture

To know or not to know - it's up to you

Great points, all. @anonymous, I understand where you're coming from. I had something of this reaction before I actually read the book. The authors were like "hey, you want to do a book review?" and I'm like "hey, I need a subject to write about, so sure!". Then I got the book and found myself fascinated. So, in the end for me personally, I kinda came out where Cheryl and Ann did - knowledge is power. It was for me. I definitely felt better about myself after reading the book. I felt more normal. And not just because of what I look like. Reading the women's stories added an important dimension.

Interestingly, when I talked to my husband about giving it to my sons, he had something of the same reaction you did, Anonymous. (Or at least what he said to me made it seem that way). He said he's fine with me showing my boys but it had to come from me. I think that makes sense. They're both out of town so I haven't had the chance to actually talk to the kids...

I guess that's the beauty of free speech. We can put stuff like this out there and the people that need it and want it can find it. If it's not your thing, no biggie.

-Jess

Researcher of WTF? Questions You'd Ask Your Sex Therapist If Only You Had One? Got a question? Ask me! (Twitter @JessieFano)

Cheryl's picture

Knowledge is Power

My view is that books like this as well as "What's Up..." should be mandatory reading, "coffee table" books because they illustrate in words and pictures a positive, affirming presentation of our bodies. By allowing adults as well as children to have real knowledge presented in a truthful positive way they gain power and ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Such knowledge engenders not only acceptance but also demystifies that which is beautiful and wonderful, our bodies. It is unfortunate that when my daughters were growing up 40 years ago that they did not have access to such information.

Ann's picture

intetesting

I agree that the book is important. The issue goes far beyond genital surgury. Many women do things like douche which can be harmful but believe their genitals are not normal or unclean. Some women dont practice safe sex because they dont understand their own bodies and how to do so. Even more women may miss signs of health or illness because they are unfamiliar with their own bodies. Our society is odd in that no one ever says dont take a photo of your mouth or dont talk about your ears but when it comes to vulvas our bodies are a big scary secret. I am glad this book is out there normalizing healthy bodies.

Anonymous's picture

I am wondering if the world

I am wondering if the world has no other problems than the looks and size of pussy. I know how mine looks like. I am okay with it. I don't care how other pussys look like. Devoting a whole book to it? What the ????
If women get surgery or if man expect porn pussy, then this book won't help a damn thing. It is about raising children in a different way so they aren't influenced by what is expected or by what others look like or have. Why even compare?
A book like this will not change the problems women have that decide to undergo surgery. And chances are it won't change men's thoughts about what they want a pussy to look like. I think it just puts way to much emphasis and a not very important topic.

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