This story appeared in the October issue of VICE magazine.
Having been women for twenty-something years and sexually active for about half a dozen of these, we've accumulated a number of experiences pertaining to being born into a biologically feminine body, some of which we've shared on our blog, Kussesumpen ("The Pussy Swamp"). The following realisations are three things that we never let go unsaid, and wish someone (maybe our mothers) had told us when we were teenagers.
PERIOD BLOOD SHOULD BE ON YOUR FINGERS—AND ON DICKS, TOO
It's not toxic. Coming into contact with the reddish-brown, lumpy liquid won't corrode your fingers. It's not a big deal to have to stick a couple of fingers up your menstruating cunt, pull out a rubber cup and empty it in the toilet. There are amazing alternatives to the sanitary pads that for generations have subjected teenagers to a living hell of bleed-throughs and nappy butt. And it's actually very possible to have sex while you're bleeding.
Guys who say otherwise are scared man-children (and who has time for them? How do you think they'll deal with childbirth and a torn perineum?). The taboos that surround bleeding from between your legs continue to severely limit opportunities for women for a good seven years of their lives. That's a lot of days to live without sport, the beach, sex and so on.
MEN ARE MORE THAN HAPPY TO HAVE SEX WITH YOUR LONG LABIA
We women are extremely self-critical and tough on our own bodies—even our reproductive organs have to be beautiful. This is why vaginal procedures are the latest fad in the world of plastic surgery. You can pay to reduce the size of your labia, both majora and minora, and to have your vagina constricted (what happened to just doing some good ol' Kegels?).
But who are we really doing it for? We have never experienced, or even heard of, a man going home with a woman, undressing her and then promptly leaving when he sees that her labia are too long, or that she forgot to shave her legs, has cellulite on her thighs, stretch marks on her tits or a little blubber on her belly. Men enjoy the female body in every shape and size, so your excessive self-consciousness (not to mention the side effects of cosmetic surgery) isn't hurting anyone but you.
THE FEMALE BODY IS STILL FUCKING POLITICAL
While buses are free to cruise around public streets displaying touched-up images of the female form, normal women are shamed for breastfeeding in cafés, tanning in bikinis on the beach, or wearing spaghetti straps and short shorts, should they happen to be anywhere above a size 4. So you might as well start forming an opinion about your own body, because you can be damn sure that everyone else already has.
You'll find that you put your body through a lot of things without really wanting to, without having given it much thought. Your body already has to put up with a lot out there in the world, so do it a favour and substitute self-shaming for love. You have to learn to do things because you want to and they make you feel comfortable in your own body, not because you want your body to fit in.
Eat what you want. Wear what your want, even if you don't have what some would deem an acceptable belly for a crop top. Jump in the water buck-naked. Bail on the treadmill and start dancing instead—you decide. It'll feel scary and awkward the first couple of times, but feeling uncomfortable is a necessary part of tearing down oppressive norms. So get out there and get to it. Who knows, you might even succeed in making others feel uncomfortable along the way.
More from the October issue of VICE Magazine: