Pussy Politics

Alicia Muñoz
Mar 22, 2018 · 4 min read

From the braggadocio and stormy secrets of our current president to the tidal wave of #MeToo sexual harassment revelations, pussy and politics have become regular dance partners of late, stepping mightily on each other’s toes. Now more than ever, possessing a pussy appears to carry with it a unique set of cross-cultural challenges.

Women’s empowerment, planted in real human hearts, must do its best to survive ever-changing, hostile environments, subject to ignorance, scorn, gas-lighting, violence and a host of other systemically corrosive attitudes and behaviors. From the appointment of a Civil Rights Assistant Secretary who dismisses 90% of student sexual assault claims as false[1] to proposed budget cuts that would erase agencies such as the Labor Department Women’s Bureau[2], political changes negatively impacting girls and women are well underway. How do women’s actual vulvas factor into this? Where does pussy show up in the algorithm for women constituting over 50% of the U.S. population[3] but only 18% of congress?

Speaking of pussy, I showed mine to three women I barely knew about six months ago. I was at a woman’s empowerment retreat. For this exercise, I volunteered to go first, but when I removed my underwear and tried to butterfly my legs, they wouldn’t budge. The resistance I felt went beyond expectable shyness. I’ve had my fair share of skillful lovers over the course of my life, given vaginal birth to my son with half a dozen cheering witnesses, and pranced around in my birthday suit on more European beaches than I can remember. None of that made a difference. Imagine an ancient sea-creature rising to the surface of a dark lake, countless hooks caught in its gills, trailing the residue of old bait and line. It was like that, only this particular sea-creature was my own most deeply hidden self. The hooks were forgotten violations, major and minor, trailing words like cunt, bitch, hag, whore, skank, tease, slut — piercing pronouncements in a thousand languages that bound me, in some inexplicable way, to every woman alive and to every woman who had ever lived before me.

Women are used to barely glimpsing this part of themselves. When for decades you’ve been told your pussy is both a prize and a curse, confusion prevails and avoidance becomes habitual. Books like “Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski and “Woman on Fire” by Amy Jo Goddard reassure women in chapter after chapter that their vulvas, however constituted, with small, medium or large inner labia, with a range or irregularities, are normal and beautiful. Why? Because women tend to believe theirs is the unsalvageable freak, the outlier. It’s a common concern. No wonder so many of us come to depend on external sources, often male, for ratification. Because women’s sexual organs and genitals tend to be hidden from their own and others’ view for a significant portion of their lives, fears distort and multiply.

My legs did finally open and contrary to what I expected, my co-retreatants leaned in to get a closer look. “Wow,” they crooned. “Amazing!” There were ah-has of recognition, exclamations of delight. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to experience unadulterated, no-strings-attached, positive feminine attention focused on the part of yourself you’ve always viewed as the body’s Bermuda Triangle, the sinister meeting place of sexual, emotional, and psychological forces with the power to short-circuit navigational tools, lead pilots astray, and sink your own and others’ ships. “Oh, look at those folds! Those ruffles! So lovely! What gorgeous colors!” I was stunned. My fears dissolved. I alternated between shock and joy. Clearly, my pussy was a poem I’d never understood. These women were translators. They said I reminded them of a coxcomb flower, with its brain-like folds, and of a sunset at its peak, and of the inside of a sea-shell, echoing with primordial tides. It was like that moment in the movies when the hero pieces the clues together in the last few seconds before a detonation and saves the world. I laughed and cried. Everything made sense. I knew who I was. For real. Maybe for the first time.

Like the Thai Gold Buddha, covered with tar and mud for over 700 years to protect it from thieves, women’s essential, fundamental beauty lies hidden under countless centuries of woman-shaming propaganda. Unless we have new experiences that crack through that crust, it’s ourselves we rob. Women need other women to help them take in and metabolize their beauty. Galway Kinnell writes, “sometimes it is necessary / to reteach a thing its loveliness / …until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.” Flowering from within happens experientially, inside the orbit of unconditional approval. Maybe the primary order of business in this pussy-grabbing political climate is for women to live their own self-blessing in an ever-expanding network of other self-blessed women and the courageous men who support them.

Having a woman’s body in no way guarantees you will push towards progressive, inclusive, compassionate leadership, or towards cultivating some of the politically useful feminine traits research has shown to be more prevalent in women than in men, such as empathy and interest in people over things[4]. To change our own dance steps, women need to find new ways of challenging the negative projections absorbed over millennia, through generations, and even just today, reading advertisements on a train platform or scanning daily news headlines. This world needs women to wake up to their power. Change begins with taking a good, hard look at ourselves, but if you’re a woman, you’ll need to first seek out the right kinds of mirrors.

[1] Baker, C. Civil Rights Wronged, Ms. Magazine Blog. Retrieved from http://msmagazine.com/blog/2017/09/26/civil-rights-wronged-trump-administration/

[2] Retrieved from http://mic.com/articles/171513/if-trump-is-serious-about-jobs-he-should-t-destroy-the-labor-department-s-women-s-bureau#.wgeSsUcOj

[3] Retrieved from http://countrymeters.info/en/United_States_of_America_(USA)

[4] Schmitt, D. Psychology Today. Sculpted by Evolution, Pg. 71.

Alicia Muñoz

Written by

Alicia Muñoz is a licensed couples counselor and author of “No More Fighting: 20 Minutes a Week to a Stronger Relationship.”

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