Why Women Need to Talk More about Our Genitals

Have you ever wondered what it'd be like if we talked more about our sexual bodies? You know the area "down there"--our vulva, clitoris, vagina?

As women's sexuality coach, I get to do this all the time and here's the thing: something magical happens when women talk about sex, sexuality and our bodies. The lights go on. It feels like a moment of liberation, a coming out of a darkness. And it's a rare occurrence--still!--in our day in age.

I get to see this all the time with my clients--in women's circles and with women over the phone, as I feel their energy switch and hearts open. Yes, their hearts open when they connect to their bodies and their sex.

Because our hearts are connected to our sex and our genitals. Deep down, we know that--and we've been taught to discount that knowing.

It is rare that we get to experience this connection, and it feels like a homecoming. For, most of us grew up with a psychological equivalent of a clitoridectomy, where our vulvas, labia, vaginas, and especially the clitoris had no name but the vague area "down there" or "Muffy" or "the bits".

Can you relate?

When we erase these words from our vocabulary, we also erase them from our consciousness. And what we keep unmentionable, unnamed and unacknowledged stays locked up, inaccessible, asleep.

In this "psychological clitoridectomy", a term coined by Nancy Friday in the '90s, the clitoris isn't the thing that gets snipped away. It is our emotional, psychological and spiritual relationship to our sexual body that gets severed--and a part of our consciousness goes along with it too. Our sense of aliveness. Our confidence to live, be, thrive.

What gets severed the most is our sense of having a home in this feminine body and a connection to our heart and soul.

Looking back at my life, I see how it all played out in my sexual relationships. I was deeply disconnected from my sexual body (the only term I can think of to refer to our entire genitals that doesn't sound as clinical as "genitals") growing up, referring to "it" by a nice little euphemism, a Russian diminutive (completely untranslatable) version of a word related to peeing. Because that's all you do down there, right?

But my sexual part? That didn't have a word, term or a referent. Like it didn't exist.

When my sexual body went unacknowledged, I felt unseen too. Fragmented, confused and divided, with my mind pitted against my body, I didn't exist in my entirety--not to myself and not to others. It wasn't too much of a stretch then for me to become invisible, prioritize others' desires above my own, numb myself out.

Sexuality became a mask. Sex became a performance.

My story is not unique. Maybe it's your story too.

It is the story of many women on the planet who've been psychologically separated from our sexuality and our bodies. It is the experience of women feeling disconnected--and discombobulated as a result--from our own bodies, and therefore ourselves.

And none of this was right by me. The deeply-seated sense that something was missing had created a thirst and hunger that nothing else could fulfill. I was determined to reclaim all of me so that I could finally express myself with the kind of soulfulness I knew I had, so I could express love through my body the way I wanted to.

Going through the process to reconnect to my body--and the pleasure I am capable of when I am fully connected to all parts of me--and now helping women to reconnect them to theirs leaves me in awe, each and every time. Because that moment when we feel that reconnection--that reunion--is magic.

As women relax in the safe, beautiful and sacred space I create for them to connect to their sexual body, I see them glow. Awakening, her soulfulness emerges. Her life force too. Color rushes to her face. She softens, melts and opens up.

It often feels like a moment of liberation, an emergence from a darkness and a repairing of a connection between body and heart, body and soul--a connection that has been forgotten, never lost.

When I see a woman looking at--and really seeing--herself and her genitals, like the hues of her labia, be it pink, olive, coral or chocolate, she smiles. When she tunes into the aliveness and electricity of her clitoris, her sexual heartbeat, where she felt nothing but numbness before, she feels her life force. And when she acknowledges all of her, she becomes whole. She comes home to herself.

This journey is often fraught with fear, conditioning and trauma. And it is a journey that many women never take.

For some it happens when they're 30, for others when they're 55. A woman recently told me that she had not ever seen her vulva until age 67, and it was the most tender experience of her life.

I first saw my own genitals through the eyes of another at age 32. It was my first time doing Orgasmic Meditation, a partnered sexuality practice that focuses on connection and pleasure. I had butterflied my legs, and my partner described what he saw in vivid detail.

You see, I had braced myself for the description that mirrored how I felt about myself at the time: ugly, fat, unattractive. Instead, he named what he actually saw in front of him: my pink outer labia, coral inner labia, undulating ridges going diagonally and disappearing into the body, a twitching he saw around the vaginal opening.

And I broke down in tears--tears of pure joy of being seen in the place where I only felt numbness, darkness and disconnect before.

That night, I got a mirror and a flashlight, and I looked myself.

And what I saw was beauty. I saw colors and layers and textures. I saw movement and life. I saw signs of tenderness and strength. All that was part of me. All of it.

This liberation starts with us, women, owning our bodies by owning the vocabulary. It starts with a mirror and a flashlight and looking at our own vulva and learning its hues, textures and how it feels. It starts with shining a light on ourselves and getting curious: who am I, all of me?

And it builds when we, women, share our stories and give each other permission to own our bodies and our sex. When we give names to our sexual body parts and give them attention, space and their place in the sacred. When we teach out girls to look at their bodies and listen to them. When we accept our own sexual expression as sacred so that we can all be whole, soulful and free.

What is your story?
What has been your journey of reconnection?
What has become possible for you?

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Irene Fehr teaches women about sexual pleasure--how to ask for it, receive it and enjoy it. Her mission is to empower every woman to connect to her body, feel desire, enjoy unbridled sexual pleasure, and ask for what she wants unapologetically--so she can express all of her soulfulness and feel at home in her body. Irene is a frequent speaker, writer, workshop facilitator, and a certified co-active coach who works in the San Francisco and DC Metropolitan Areas. www.ignitedwoman.com

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