Today I need y’all to be my confessors to something that’s been weighing on my Feminist Conscience. I’ve been advocating for reproductive rights and sexual health for years. I have a “Get Yourself Tested” button on my backpack right now. In high school, I drove my friends to clinics for STD checks like a Sexual Health Soccer Mom. I (very loudly) believe in the importance of annual exams and check-ups.
Okay, but here’s the thing… my first visit to the gynecologist happened just a few months ago. Yeah. I’ve been preaching about sexual (and general genital) health for years, but have been seriously failing to take care of myself. I was scared of the gynecologist and scared of my own body.
Before my Big Feminist Awakening, I was told in various direct and indirect ways that my body, because of its femaleness, was inherently shameful. Like most girls growing up in mainstream America, I was immersed in a slut shaming mentality. I was raised by a very religious mother. My mother is a strong and wonderful woman, but church? That place can mess you up.
I cried when I noticed the first hints of puberty (which actually makes sense because that life stage is the worst) and again the day I started my first period. My mom laughed at my horror and tried to comfort me, but I was seriously convinced I had just reached the Age of No Return. I was sure my graduation into Womanhood meant I was condemned to burn in hell for all eternity. I had been told over and over that all women are sluts and whores who must beg for forgiveness every Sunday. If you’re told your entire life that you should hate yourself, your body, and all its human functions, with the added bonus of hearing that God is judging your every unholy action, you’re bound to have some issues to unpack.
I had my Big Atheist Awakening a few years before finding feminism. It’s been years since I left my mom’s conservative religion and became a raging feminist, but I’m still struggling to shake the remnants of body negativity and body shame. I know and believe that body positivity is an imperative for healthy living, especially for young women. But I still have moments of full on self-loathing, body hatred, and shame. I know it’s a product of society, but I can’t logic my way out of my emotions. Turns out, shaking a lifetime’s worth of internalized self hatred isn’t always as easy as I think it should be.
I have a feeling a lot of us are dealing with these body issues so, guess what, folks? Welcome to Sex Week! It’s like Shark Week with less teeth…unless you have been blessed with the vagina from the movie Teeth. Still, it’s like Shark Week with 100% less fear and more body positivity! This week, we’re going to be talking about bodies, lady doctors (not doctors who are ladies, doctors FOR ladies- and people with lady parts!), sex education, sex positivity, and the myths around of all it!