Understanding

“There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we”
― Ina May Gaskin

There are a lot of really cool things about the body, sex and reproduction. People tend to focus on the funniest, grossest, and most arousing aspects of each, myself included. When you hear sploogey noises at a party, they are probably coming from my mouth. I’ve been known to announce an impending bowel movement (Ace, anyone?). And I love sex, when I’m not struggling with its powerful and complex socio-economic-political role in our daily lives.

But there is a lot of misunderstanding out there, and even more flat out ignorance. I’m amazed at how little people know about their own bodies – you’d think that with the vast amount of accessible information out there, some basic anatomy would be a node on everyone’s mind wire. But whatever it is – lame education, overly cautious or censored child rearing, denial – people don’t know shit these days. Or blood, or mucus, or semen, or breast milk. We have lost familiarity with the juicy essence of what makes us alive, and what reveals us to be animals.

Maybe the raw nature of it all is what veers us away from confronting the awe-inspiring dynamics of a functioning human body. Or maybe its the daunting realization that someday, that beautiful monument to evolution and miracle, that flawless system of nerves and liquids and muscles and hormones and bones – will slip, or bruise, or be overtaken by some “other”. The clockwork catches and time stops. Death, in all its undeniable persistence, has frightened us into ignorance. Let us not cloud our understanding  and appreciation of life, simply because we fear the logical conclusion of such knowledge.

I want to make this a place of learning but also of acceptance. If even just one woman reclaims pride and joy in her menses, I will be happy. If one boy learns the power of his sex, and wields it with compassion and responsibility as a result, I will be happy.

A friend once asked me, quite innocently, “But aren’t the anus and the vagina the same hole?”

I think I spat out my undercooked 30-cent cookie from the high school cafeteria. She may have been kidding, I’m still not sure and try not to think about it (clearly, I fail). But in truth, no one in her family had sat her down and helped her understand her body. These were body parts she used and confronted every day for a variety of functions we all share, and yet she did not know them. Our health instructors had never started from the basics – there were no simple diagrams, just vague and inconsistent messages (Bush was starting his second term) about condoms and fallopian tubes.

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As much of the content here will address rather intimate ideas and discussions of anatomy and medicine, I will try my best to reference descriptions and definitions that may be helpful to the reader. An “En-psych-lo-petey-ya” section may refer to the particulars of childbirth and obstetrics, and I will do my best to link to helpful, well-sourced articles.

If you have any questions, please, I beg of you, ask. Really. I will answer you with enthusiasm as best I can.

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6 Responses to Understanding

  1. Ash says:

    I’m so surprised how many people are afraid to talk about sex. I’ve learned (and mostly through you) to embrace my sexuality, not to hide it from a society that’s ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it. People these days shouldn’t “kiss and tell,” which is bogus to me because then they go home and watch porn in the privacy of their apartments, which is basically “kissing and telling” broadcasted on the internet for the world to see! Also, I give thanks to all of those raunchy conversations that we had back in high school with our male and female friends alike, that is truly how I learned about my body and sexuality because my parent’s never had the “talk” with me.

    And just to make things very clear, women DO NOT pee out of their vaginas. You would be surprised how many men (yes men, not boys) still think that.

  2. Derik says:

    Being the father of a girl about to head into puberty I can understand how scary it is to sit your child down and talk to them about sex. But at the same time I found it much more scary to think about what could happen to her if she was unaware of these functions and the ways people may attempt to influence her into things related to sex. I find her being informed allows her to make better decisions.

    Well informed decisions are good decisions.

    • Jessalyn says:

      Thanks, Derik! You are right on, and believe me, your attitude will pay off for your daughter. I am so grateful to have had parents that made sure I was well-informed. I was able to leave home feeling confident and safe about my sexual choices. And when I DID make a mistake or two, all those years of support helped me to deal with (and learn from) the situation.

  3. BEadECLECTIC says:

    The more open we are to discussing sex, the safer women will be, if you ask me. Our bodies are our temples, but the lack of sex education and respect for sexuality makes us seem like forbidden and unknown temples asking to be taken advantage of. Of course, that’s a broad, extreme statement. Still, I feel the less we are open about something, the more negative energy will get put to it.

    I just found your blog and love it. This post reminded me of a poem I recently read and was able to find it on this link. (I have no affiliation with this blogess.)http://damiddlepassage.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/and-i-call-iself-a-wombman-by-nekhena-evans-sacred-woman-initiate/

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