Ever since I first heard the word, I have identified as a feminist.
I recently got married, after 'living in sin' with my partner for nearly nine years. The Catholic side of my family were clearly uncomfortable with our living situation, and my elderly grandmother used to to refer to my partner as my 'husband' before we were married. When I corrected her, she would scowl and say 'Yes, yes, I know. You're not married.' And we would laugh, because we didn't care, and to us, love was love, wedding ring or not.
But as we grew older, and were still very happy together, we started to feel the pull towards marriage. I felt calling him my 'boyfriend' cheapened how long lasting and serious our relationship was, but could never get comfortable with the word 'partner'. I wanted him to be my husband. So we decided to get married.
Planning a wedding, whilst also trying to maintain high standards of feminist living, is extremely difficult. The whole institution of marriage is cringingly sexist, and weddings themselves are chock full of 'traditions' that allow a man to publicly make a woman his possession. I wrestled with it all, and had many wine fuelled chats with my fellow feminist besties, and in the end I cut out all the crap.
We didn't get engaged, and I didn't wear a big diamond on my finger to show that I was 'taken'. My husband did not ask my dad's permission to marry me. My dad did not walk me down the aisle and give me away. There were no male dominated, embarrassing speeches. I did not take my husband's name. And, hilariously, I did not wear a white dress. Even though I genuinely did go into my wedding as a virgin. So far, so feminist.
So imagine my horror at an early therapy appointment, aimed at 'getting to know my vagina', when the following exchange happened.
THERAPIST: It sometimes helps to give your vagina a name.
ME: Oh... OK (thinks about it for a minute)
THERAPIST: What's the matter? Does that seem difficult?
ME: No, I'm just wondering what to call it. I'm just thinking about whether it's a man or a woman.
HOLD ON! DID I JUST ACTUALLY PONDER WHETHER MY VAGINA MIGHT ACTUALLY BE A MAN???
As soon as it came out my mouth, I started back tracking. Assuring my therapist that I didn't really mean that. Of course it's not a man! I am a feminist! HONEST!
My therapist wasn't phased, but did think it was an interesting question. And I suppose it is.
What I take from it now, is that it was an indicator of how detached I was from my own vagina. It felt so alien to me, and so unlike a part of my own female body, that I actually asked this bizarre, appalling question.
Thankfully I now have a much better relationship with my vagina. I still haven't given her a name though... any suggestions?
Name my vagina, win a prize!*
firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @heyvaginismus
*You probably wont get a prize. Soz.