Q. What did you call your vagina when you were a child? At my primary school, there was a huge variety to choose from: gina, fanny, lady parts, flower, hoo hoo… I have a friend that, to this day, refers to her vagina as her nani. Even though, at this time our ‘privates’ were not overtly sexual, we were taught to keep this part of ourselves secret from the rest of the world, as something that was gross or wrong, and it was definitely not something to talk about.
Continuously throughout my life, I’ve been reminded that girl’s bodies are sexual. Most of us don’t talk about our period in public, or at all. Buying bras is a secret thing, and your dad will wait for you outside the shop or in the car to avoid the embarrassment. Sex shops are a definite no-no, and if you even look towards the corsets and vibrators displayed in Honey Birdette you could find yourself in a strange awkwardness walking with your mother.
GIF from www.giphy.com
And then I met my boyfriend. And we fell in love. We got close to having sex a few times, so we decided that we needed to buy condoms so that if it did happen, we could be safe. As the one with the free time and car, I decided that I would go get them. I was a strong independent woman – I didn’t need to be ashamed of this.
It was the middle of the day, during the school week. I had headed over to the local shopping centre near my house, which was a local hot spot for seniors to sit and have coffee. Walking through the doors and heading quickly to the Woolworths, was a crowd of old ladies getting their morning coffee fix. They reminded me my grandma, and I felt was sure that they all knew exactly what I was there for.
I walked quickly to the pharmacy aisle and walked straight past the condoms because there were people standing nearby. But what did I care if they saw me? I was a young woman, making sure she made safe decisions about her sex life.
Still, with this in mind I grabbed two bags of lollies (to hide the condom box), and went back to the pharmacy aisle. Here I sandwiched the box of condoms between the two bags of sweets.
Smiling nervously at the other customers, I walked quickly to the self-service checkout, paid, and walked as quickly as I could back to my car. I had done it!
Pulling out my phone, I sent a relieved text to my boyfriend: “I just bought condoms and it was the scariest experience of my life ahh!”
Relaxing back into my seat, I go to close the message app when I see the top. ‘Mum’.
GIF from www.newscult.com
I had just sent a text to my mother, telling her that I had just bought condoms. My mother. I was mortified.
I hurriedly sent more texts explaining that I wasn’t having sex, and the condoms were as a joke for a friend, and I love you and I’ll see you tonight, bye.
But the thing is, my mum was always one to talk to me about sex, she explained to me what a period was, and taught me to always call lady parts the ‘vagina’. She did everything I’d want in a mother and was always so reasonable and open about sexuality.
So why was I so scared to tell her?
Sex, we know, isn’t a thing to talk about. Sex, is a secret for ‘grown-ups’.
So what about when you’re in that in-between age, not really a child but barely a woman, and you don’t know anything about sex because girls aren’t meant to talk about it?
Guys at my school, from a very young age would joke about their sex lives, and how they’d like to masturbate before studying or joke about comparing their penis sizes in the changing rooms. I always thought it was gross, but honestly, I wish my sexuality had been that easy to joke about then. Maybe then I’d have known how to get myself off, or been able to talk about my period with my friends, or go and buy a goddamn vibrator if I wanted to.
Now that I’m older, and I’m more confident in myself and my sexuality, I’m happier to talk about these sort of things with my friends and my mum. I think that it’s really important for us to talk about those things, because sexuality is a natural part of who we are. And we shouldn’t have to lie about being busy to get out of something because we’re on our period.
Our bodies are natural, and it’s time we start teaching our young girls that what they feel is natural too.
Sarah is a Journalism and Social Science student at the University of Technology, Sydney. She’s an intersectional feminist and passionate future-crazy-cat-lady. When she’s not studying, she’s writing bits and pieces online and posting artsy pics of her food (and life) on Instagram.