I grew up in a relatively ordinary middle-class American home, with my father, my mother and four older siblings. My parents were pretty straightforward when it came to explaining tough subjects. My parents never perpetuated myths like your eyes getting stuck in a cross eyed position when you strained to look at your nose; nor did they use cutesy terms for parts of the anatomy. (Although, come to think of it, my dad did use “wee-wee” to refer to urinating. I think he brought that word, and many others, with him from rural Pennsylvania.)
I was never led to believe that babies sprout in cabbage patches. And, while neither of my parents dwelled unnecessarily on the topic of sex, we understood it was a natural, beautiful part of married life.
Of my parents five children, three of us are girls. We happened to be girls who matured physically earlier than average. That particular achievement was met with teasing and embarrassment at school. I will never forget the day a boy in my third grade class pinched his shirt between thumbs and index fingers directly over his nipples and pulled out from his chest, simulating pointy breasts, and made fun of me by saying, “This is her.”
In junior high, 7th grade to be exact, I drew attention from the opposite sex with my shapeliness. Now, I’m not bragging here, nor am I apologizing. One day, while wearing a ‘peasant’ style dress with an elastic neckline, two 8th grade boys, who were strangers to me, approached.
One said to the other, “Guess what grade she’s in?”
“Nope. 7th. But look at these.”
The first boy then helped himself to the neckline of my dress and pulled it away in order to expose my breasts–too big to belong to a 7th grader, but in fact they did. I was shocked and humiliated. How dare they!
Apparently I confused older boys. My older brother would vouch for that. He sometimes still reminds me about how he had to fend off his 18-year-old friends who wanted to ask me out, only to learn from big brother I was barely 12. What may have been more confusing for the boys was my smokin’ brain. Straight A’s and honor society member. Take that, boy with grabby hands.
Well, it seems that girls in general confuse boys, and women preplex men. Heterosexual men are more comfortable staying at arm’s length from anything having to do with women’s bodily functions, especially our reproductive goings-on. The reason I bring this up is because I only just recently learned about the myth of vagina dentata. Of all places, I saw reference to it in a hideous ‘B’ movie with startling graphic detail about a boy whose manhood was cut short by a vagina dentata. Turns out the movie was not the original idea of the movie maker, but a new take on an old myth.
But myths tend to recirculate. Unfortunately for the male gender, they are often the ones who unwittingly resurrect eerie falsehoods.
Six myths were the topic of the following article, written by a Amanda Scherker whose anti-mysogynist passion has been stoked by moronic men in politics.
Vaginas are an unfair source of widespread confusion and embarrassment: Plenty of us don’t know how they work or what they look like. But it’s not just popular culture that gets vaginas wrong. Scientific and medical minds long misunderstood female anatomy. We didn’t even fully know how the clitoris worked until 2009, and even today, many textbooks still misrepresent female sexual anatomy.
Of course, we have it better than women in centuries past, when blatant misogyny shaped much of the mainstream cultural and medical understanding of women’s bodies. Early mansplaining about women’s bodies were used to validate sexist legal policies, keep women out of school and generally make humankind squeamish about the female form. Here are some of history’s craziest myths about vaginas:
Watch out, some women’s vaginas have teeth!
The myth of the toothed vagina, called vagina dentata, was a legitimate anxiety expressed in cultural folklore everywhere from Russia to Japan to India. In many of these myths, brave men needed to remove or break these vaginal teeth before safely sexing up their lady friends.
Educate a woman, and you’ll ruin her lady parts.
This theory is brought to you by 19th-century Harvard Medical faculty member Henry H. Clark who spent his life fighting the good fight to keep women out of school. He said that women’s brains couldn’t handle the same strain as men’s, and that ladies who pursued a college education risked stressing their brains and destroying their wombs. Other scientists of the time also cautioned that over-developing the feminine brain would make the uterus shrivel up. In this sexist fantasy world, women especially needed to avoid thinking while on their period. Ugh.
Women can’t get pregnant unless they have consensual sex.
In 2012, former House Representative Todd Akin and his merry band of anatomically-confused Republicans helped revive this terrible myth. Maybe they were inspired by the 13th-century British legal text, Fleta, which said that “without a woman’s consent she could not conceive,” and thus could be used to invalidate a woman’s rape accusation if she had become pregnant. The belief lived on through 19th century medical books, to misguided politicians today.
Read the other myths: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/vagina-myths_n_6135820.html
It’s safe to say that mysteries still exist between the sexes, and always will, as long as there are men seeking women and we women play hard to get. Did I say that out loud?
Hilarious video: Flirty or Creepy? Watch.