Join The #Vulvalution
Paid partnership with Cult Beauty
I have just turned 25.
The marker of this, if you’re a cis-woman living in the UK, is a prompt from the NHS to go and get a cervical screening.
It is, of course, super important to make that appointment - not least because cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under (I am hurriedly popping another reminder in my phone as I type this). However, I wish I had received another Hogwarts-style letter at a younger age. Perhaps one with an enrolment into a good, pleasurable relationship with my… you know… my… what do you call it?
When it comes to what you call your Vulva, the options are endless. Ironically it probably isn’t/wasn’t a Vulva (which is the bit you can see, as opposed to the vagina, which is the actual hole). You may be thinking, ‘how British of us’, to coin so many names for something we understand(stood) so little about. Yet it would appear that conversations about women’s bodies are pretty misguided worldwide, it’s an epidemic. If that isn’t evidence for sexism, *that we almost universally call our body part (the one that often holds the most capital in the eyes of the powerful/history etc.) by the wrong name*, then I don’t know what is.
It is time we reclaim the conversation - as well as our bodies and our pleasure. We need to unpick and disrupt the narrative that makes us feel uncomfortable or ashamed and see the power in our private parts.
So let us imagine a world where you’re told that your Vulva, is in fact, a Vulva. A world where women are widely accepted to have sexual desires too, periods aren’t shameful and the simple pleasures in life aren’t just available from the confectionary aisle in Marks and Spencer, (I can vouch for their Belgian truffles though).
I am here to tell you, that this actually isn’t a fantasy - the #vulvalution is coming. Don’t worry, it isn’t one of those Pornhub style fantasies that actually looks more like a nightmare. As much as I support consensual porn industries and sex work, I can’t deny that I have also felt less than comforted by those ‘fantasies’. Especially aged 16 when testosterone fuelled class-mates would huddle around the most unrealistic sexual encounters during lunch break at school - no amount of primer will keep your make-up looking perfect with that amount of kissing.
Of course, sadly, it is often more sinister than a bad plumber/housewife stereotype. However, that also plays into reinforcing unhelpful gender roles. Stealing glances at these videos was perhaps some of the first exposure we had to the world of female pleasure, and I hazard a guess that it was probably less than helpful.
A lot of the rhetoric surrounding sex, that we are exposed at a young age, teaches us that our changing bodies suddenly hold capital. We are taught as young girls, that our bodies are a source of shame for us and pleasure for men. What we are not told is that we are powerful, sensual beings in our own right, and that a man (#notallmen #sarcasticface) is often surplus to requirements.
So between shameful exchanges of X-rated videos, contrasted with frequent conversations about the *utility* of our Vagina, it’s no wonder we all feel slightly in the dark about ‘down-there’.
So, please, join me in the #vulvalution and ‘stop beating around the bush’. Whether you sport a sleek hollywood, are au natural, or somewhere in between - the level of attention you pay to your topiary is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much there is to learn and explore about our bodies.
Cult Beauty have just launched their new Sexual Pleasure and Wellness category, the idea being that it’s important we normalise the conversation around our vagina/vulva and take care of the health and happiness of our insides as well as our outsides. After all, beauty often comes from within (or after a good shag #amiright). With this launch, Cult Beauty also teamed up with The Lady Garden Foundation to raise awareness of gynaecological cancer. 10% of the profits from Sexual Pleasure and Wellness category will be donated to support their critical work surrounding gynaecological cancers, still so underrepresented in the media that they’re termed ‘The Silent Killers’.
In this Sunday’s episode of ‘Adulting’ I speak to Cult Beauty co-founder Lex about what inspired her to take the plunge and delve into the female pleasure industry alongside feminine health products. We also candidly discuss our own relationship with sexual pleasure and shame.
If you would like to pick up anything from Cult Beauty, you can also use CBXOENONE at checkout for 15% off when you spend over £20. Valid until 12/03/2019. Brand exclusions apply check https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/help-centre/payments-and-promotions for terms and conditions.