I was flipping channels the other day and happened upon, I think, Dr. 90210, where he was trimming some woman’s labia. He helpfully explained that many women think it’s ugly for their labia minora to hang lower than their labia majora and that many women have the misconception that it’s caused by childbirth or slutty behavior. Neither of which are true, he explained.
“It’s totally natural,” he says helpfully as he holds up a piece of his patient’s nether regions and gave it a little shake, like a lure well-attached to the line.
I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t expecting it, but it hit me really viscerally. I got pissed off and upset. I wanted to beat him and his smarmy unmoving plastic beautiful age-hiding face and I wanted to comfort this woman.
I mean, really, what brings you to the point where you start hacking off bits of body that bring you pleasure so that it “looks okay”?
America, here is my question for you.
If we accept that it’s perfectly fine for a woman to ask her doctor to lop off some of her labia so that she looks “right,” why can’t another woman ask that her clitoris be lopped off so that she looks “right”?
Why is it wrong for people in Africa to cut up the genitals of their girls but not wrong for doctors here to do it?
It can’t just be an age of consent thing. You simply can’t say “Well, no, it’s only wrong because they’re doing it to children. What we do is okay because it’s a consenting adult.”
At some point, don’t we have an obligation to say that bodily autonomy is not just about being able to do what you want to your own body because it’s yours but also about your body being enough how it is as long as it’s not causing you pain?
I mean, if I went to Dr. 90210 and said, “I think I’d look better with only eight fingers and no thumbs,” would he cut off my thumbs just because I thought it was a good idea? What if I thought my thumbs were ugly? What if my partner didn’t like them?
Or would he say, “God, you know, maybe you don’t need a surgeon; maybe you need therapy, because your thumbs are fine and your desire to cut them off is fucked up.”
If he would do that for my thumbs, why wouldn’t he do that for my labia?