That Time Time I Was P-ssy Shamed
My love life is pretty sporadic, unexpected and, often reads like a campy romantic comedy of the “You’ve got mail” kind. I truly wish it were more “Pride and Prejudice,” but apparently the universe loves to take the mick. But this particular time, my love life felt more like a scene from a Lifetime movie that I couldn’t unsee.
It was a sweltering hot day in Brooklyn and I, for one, was ecstatic. I’d been working out and looked good as hell in some shorts. You couldn’t tell me otherwise. Unfortunately, this for many New Yorkers also means that if you do not live in incredibly gentrified neighborhoods, there’s a chance that your neighbors may have transformed the block or stoop into a full-on bashment well into the wee hours of the day.
Not uncommon, but still annoyed, I came down from my apartment to valiantly chastise them and maybe beg that they turn down the music. The last thing I wanna do is go to bed hearing the voice of Beanie Man. As I hurriedly rushed down the stairs, I absentmindedly bumped into a young man, knocking all of his belongings down. I apologized profusely and we both got into that awkward squat to gather his things and locked eyes. Remember, rom-com. Long story short, we start a conversation, boy asks girl for number, girl gives number, boy calls girl, we plan a date and so began our wonderful few weeks of going out and late night chats.
*cue the honeymoon stage montage*
Our conversations finally geared toward sex and like the responsible adults we were, we discussed sexual history, and health disclosures. We both came back with a clean bill of health and had the green light to proceed accordingly. On said night, things happened fairly organically. Clothes came off and I noticed he cocked his head to the side like a confused pup when he looked at my vagina. It didn’t last long but I noticed it enough to remember and then things, well… went.
That was the first round, which is the least one could hope for with a new partner since you’re technically still learning bodies and all. I did notice he showered right after and kept insisting that I join him. I didn’t think anything of it and declined because, frankly, I wasn’t finished yet and anticipated at least a second round. While laying in bed talking, he asked if he could tell me something. I was cringing, hoping this wasn’t going to be some kind of “L-bomb” I couldn’t handle. I told him it was okay to speak his mind and boy, did he.
He began by condescendingly asking me if my “situation” was always so hairy.
To my knowledge, I kept a neatly trimmed hedge but I sure won’t be dealing with the physical trauma of hair removal for aesthetics. I sat up in bed and tried to get to the root of his issue. As he wrinkled his nose, he hit me with this: “Your p-ssy has a smell and it was hard for me to get through that.”
“Pussy.” “Smell.” “That.” Words I’d never even heard used in a sentence to describe my sex. I glared at him in disbelief but really was trying to keep from crying because that was the only reaction my body could produce betwixt the shock of it all. That’s the first time anyone had ever passed any negative commentary on my vagina in terms of aesthetics or smell.
He saw that I was visibly upset and tried to make me feel better, but the damage had been done. He tried to touch me and his fingers burned my skin. Rife with humiliation, I freshened up and asked to be driven home. He obliged and we rode in mostly silence til I got to my place. At some point during the ride home he actually went into full “doctor” mode and said that if I ever needed to see a gynecologist, he could get me a referral. I needed to throw this man away and just go home.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried as hard or felt so insecure in my life. I remember walking into the shower, putting the water on level “hades,” and scrubbing my nethers in an attempt to scald away the humiliation I’d just endured. I called a friend hysterical and she talked me off a ledge. I think the most helpful thing she reminded me of was that I was a normal person with good hygiene and not a porn star. I still booked an emergency appointment with my gynecologist the next day who confirmed I was fine and blank stared me for wasting an appointment after the fact.
The truth is vaginas smell. They’re hairy sometimes and often meant to be. Some have a bit more going on than others. They don’t smell like some sickening floral medley or baby powder. It smells like you, and for the right partner, the closest thing to God on earth.
Movies, the feminine care industry, and porn have pitted vaginas against one another in some morbid battle royal for what the ideal should be. Shaved, waxed and reminiscent of pre-pubescence, that’s come to symbolize “clean” and “fresh.”
The truth is, my vagina is exactly what it is. It will not be everyone’s cup of tea and I’m learning to love it, as it was fearfully and wonderfully made just like me.