dealing with pain and dysfunction

My Dysfunctional Monologue

I finally saw the Vagina Monologues performed live on the Cornell campus.  I think it made me sad.  Or maybe that’s ’cause I lost my job yesterday.  Who the fuck knows?  Whatever, time to shout into the vast tubes of the internet.

For this entry only I am going to ignore the issues of sexual violence that are discussed in the Monologues and that are a big part of V-Day.  I absolutely recognize and appreciate what V-Day does to raise awareness about violence against women, but this entry is solely comprised of my personal reactions to the experience of seeing the Monologues performed by my peers.  Ahem.

Seeing women up on stage talking about vaginas is a pretty powerful thing.  There aren’t many spaces where that is acceptable, really.  It’s fun and happy and gleeful to hear women speaking positively about vaginas.  Unless you hate your vagina, in which case it’s kind of upsetting and confusing.  Okay, so it’s not that I hate my vagina.  At least, not all the time.  It does some cool stuff.  It bleeds, and I can use that to feed my houseplants.  If I try really hard it can make sounds, and that’s amusing sometimes.  And I’ve always thought I’ve had a pretty good-looking vulva, if I do say so myself.  But hearing women who could just as easily be me–hey, a white/tallish/female Cornell student isn’t hard to find–talk about how great sex is and how they’ve come to love their vaginas… well, it kind of pisses me off.

Why can’t I be them?  What’s wrong with me?  Why did I get the shit end of the vagina stick?  Why can’t mine just work properly and have great sex and be loved?  Forget my classmates, why can’t I be a tree or a bird or the sky or an ornamental shrub, perhaps a Hydrangea?  Sure, it’s melodramatic, but then I wouldn’t have to consider these issues at all.

But that’s not the case.  I am me, and my body is dysfunctional.  How am I supposed to love my vagina if it hurts?  Many of the positive parts of the Monologues can’t resonate with me, because I’m not used to discussion of sex beyond heteronormative/penetrative.  I know that “sex” is much more than what our narrow cultural narrative allows, but penis-in-vagina is so deeply ingrained into my schema for “sex” that I can’t separate the two.  I can’t (yet) discard the idea that sexual intercourse is sex, and therefore I am dysfunctional for not being able to engage in it.  Even though I’m luckier than some and can experience pleasure under the right conditions and if I concentrate real hard, I still associate my vagina with pain.  I have primary vaginismus, meaning that I have experienced pain every. single. time. I’ve ever attempted sexual intercourse, from the first time ’til whenever the last time was.  And that’s not fun or happy or gleeful at all.

Beyond all that, what I wouldn’t give right now to be comfortable in skinny jeans.  (I wear them anyway ’cause I’m a hipster.  If only I lived somewhere warm, I’d wear skirts every day.)  Even if I get past all of my sexual hang-ups, I still won’t be able to ride a bike.  I think what the hugely limited discourse about pelvic pain is missing is that vulvodynia affects women in ways that don’t involve a penis at all.  I can’t love my vagina until it’s pain free–whether in cute pants, lacy underwear, on a bicycle, sitting down, walking, or, yeah, filled up with someone fun.

Just because I’m in a pissy mood, I’d like to state for the record (and for any radfems that might stumble across my wee little blog) that “someone fun” could take a lot of different forms or gender expressions in the future.  I’m dealing with pain and dysfunction for myself.  If I take 60 botox shots to the cunt, it’s because I REALLY WANT TO WEAR PANTS AND SIT DOWN.  Not because I’m under duress from the patriarchy, not because uh oh the boyfriend might l-l-l-leave me if I don’t.  Okay?  Got it?

You know, I think what started as sad and whiny just became pretty fierce.  I’m ready to love my vagina.  If that means physical therapy, fine.  If that means shedding old ideals of what does and does not constitute “sex”, all the better.  With any luck, by this time next year I’ll be up on that stage professing it with the best of them.


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  1. * Cheryl says:

    Hi Lindsey,
    I was terminated at work 12/23/08, after one year of jumping through flaming hoops. Decided to go back to school in 2005, worked double shifts on weekends so I could complete my school rotations in a hospital laboratory from 2006 to 2007. I get hired for what I learned in school, but after one year I wasn’t good enough. Now I can’t even get hired as a motel desk clerk.
    Anyway, my sister has vulvar vestibulitis (and PCOS); riding a bicycle is not painful for her, but internal violation of her anatomy is excruciating. She went so far as to marry a man almost as old as our parents to avoid intercourse; they shared too little of anything to stay together over a year.
    She apparently makes good use of the rest of her body for pleasure. That is where I’m fucked… almost 40 and I’ve never attained orgasm. If only I had been a child of the 40s instead of the 80s, then I wouldn’t have known what I was missing.
    I got HSV1 from a guy performing oral sex on me; he had not had a cold sore for years and thought he was incapable of transmitting the virus anymore. Ha ha! At least I don’t get “cold sores.”
    My gynocological experiences either scarred me or made me recommend the physician to others. In general, female gyns have been more impersonal and rough with me and my privates than males. I had a couple of abnormal Pap tests, followed by a biopsy and HPV testing that revealed nothing significant, so I stopped going. I am already programmed to die from diabetic complications, anyway.
    Have you tried exercise to alleviate your cramping? Seriously, a brisk walk may calm those muscles. I used to do that when I was in my teens and twenties. Felt like shit when I started walking, but a mile or two later, I felt a lot better.
    My girlfriend got fitted with an IUD after she delivered her first child 7 months ago, and it initially was uncomfortable and caused a lot of cramping. She either adapted to it, or it adapted to her, because she’s not complaining anymore.
    Just because intercourse for most American women isn’t painful doesn’t mean that it’s great, or that they love their anatomy more than you. Yeah, I’ve been really down about a lot of aspects of my life (losing my job and medical insurance, glucose levels out of control, rent increased $50.00 monthly, etc.), but I feel better when I focus on something positive, even if it’s about making someone else’s day better. Take heart.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  2. * Cheryl says:

    Oops, that shoud read gynecological.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago

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