Huffington Post, September 11, 2012 by Denise Vivaldo
I happen to love my vagina. We have been through thick and thin together. The great, the good, the average and the occasional nights we never speak of. Ever.
Now that we are 60, which is the new 40, we both feel we have a lot of great years ahead of us. We love being older and wiser. We love being a wife, a boss, a woman. We pay our taxes. We are good citizens. It seems only right that we be in charge of our own life, because my vagina and me, we belong to each other and nobody else.
It hasn’t been easy growing into our power and our own comfortable relationship. I was raised in the 1950’s where I was taught that you never spoke of sex, politics or religion at the dinner table. And you most certainly did not discuss such topics in front of guests or anyone else you might offend. Good manners dictated that you keep conversation “light and polite” as a woman.
I had never even heard the word vagina until I was almost 18 years old. My mother called it, “your little business” as in; make sure you wash your little business. It took MS Magazine and a Women In History course in college to make me ask my mother to stop using that expression. “Mama, I don’t charge, it ain’t a business.” I knew she felt badly enough about me already — I went braless and no longer shaved under my arms. Every day I had a new revelation for my own freedom to protest and to share and now, I said vagina. Out loud. “Vagina, vagina, vagina.”
It’s only been since Todd Akin’s comments that I learned I have “special Ninja fighting poison powers” in my vagina. I’m excited to see if I spread my legs on the lawn, can my vagina kill the crabgrass? How powerful, how organic and what a money saver! My amazing vagina!
The world was changing in 1969. The United States had put a man on the moon, colleges were erupting with anti-war demonstrations and the majority of women in this country realized that they would have to fight for equal rights, because no one was going to do it for them. Not our lovers, our husbands or our fathers. It was our fight. Women would have to fight for equal rights just like they fought for the vote.
It worked out. Women can take care of themselves. We’ve proved it. We sit on the Supreme Court, we are astronauts, we are doctors and lawyers and often, we are your mother.
I think of women like Susan B. Anthony or Gloria Steinem. I know without them, we would never have Hilary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice or Chelsea Handler today to listen to.
The fact that I am writing to remind women and men that our right to pro-choice is in the Constitution and that going backwards is not a smart option, physically or economically, is personally very sad to me. It makes me feel bad for my vagina.
But, my vagina doesn’t feel bad. She’s just plain angry. To be honest, I want other women to be angry. And prove it when they vote in November.
Ask this question out loud: Why would men, who don’t have vaginas, think that mine is any of their business?
My vagina wants you to stay out of her business. Full circle with my mother. She was always right!
I grew up before birth control pills and terminated pregnancies were legal. I’m a witness to horrors of the past. I heard the stories of my grandmother almost bleeding to death on the bathroom floor while my mother, only a child herself, called the “meat wagon” to come pick her up and take her to the hospital. Years later, my grandmother would tell me, “The fifteen cents an hour I made as a waitress did not include another baby.” She tried to be careful, but she was pregnant again.
As a teenager in my affluent high school, friends got pregnant and instead of terminating an unplanned pregnancy, they were forced to leave school, give up their babies to absolute strangers and then return to football games and yearbook committees and act like nothing ever happened. I don’t wish living with that heartache on anyone.
And what about rape victims? Violently forced to have sex and now, punished, without safe surgery for a crime they had no part in. Maybe the rape victim’s skirt was too short and she was asking for it, or maybe the rapist was just a sick powerless f*ck who likes the thrill of rape. You choose.
Call me a feminist, call me a bitch, call me a liberal. I can take it. I have been called these names all my life because I wanted to play four square with the boys in fifth grade, drive my own car when I was 16, be the owner of my own business, help other women succeed, be a wife, twice, and love the man of my choice, deeply. To not have my own children but help the world’s children. And to watch the next generation of women achieve more in their lives and to be free and happy with every choice.
I want my government and my country to take care of babies that are here, not babies that aren’t. Please don’t speak to me about your morals or God or any of your political ideology if you do not have a vagina. It’s an outrage and I am not listening to you.
If you do have a vagina, I’m all ears.
Denise Vivaldo is grateful for her life and the history she had been a witness too. She grew up wanting to be a princess or Sleeping Beauty, but then realized it was more fun to be the Queen. And waiting around for a guy to kiss you was just stupid. Kiss him first!