The other night I was sitting on the couch reading a magazine, and called out to my husband, Hey, you know how Time magazine does that Man of the Year or Woman of the Year issue? This year, seriously, it should be Organ of the Year and Vagina should win.
Because -- have you noticed? -- Vagina is everywhere right now.
And behind it a mighty force, one I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s a force that makes me think that we might be There finally, to that end-place where finally we break through on a bunch of bullshit that has been keeping women back for so long. Where finally we can have a kick-ass female Secretary of State *and* equal pay for equal work.
It could be that I’m just dreaming or it could be that I’ve been reading too much.
This all started in June, when Representative Lisa Brown was silenced for saying vagina on the Michigan Senate floor when discussing an anti-abortion bill. I love her response:
“I used that word because we were debating a women's health issue. Vagina, by the way, is the correct medical name of a part of women's anatomy lawmakers want to regulate. My statements were within the rules of the House and were clearly appropriate in relation to the bill we were discussing.
“One of my counterparts, Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, said ‘vagina’ is such a disturbing word that he would never deign to use it in the presence of women or ‘mixed company.’ This, from a man who earned a bachelor's degree in biology.”
This immediately led to an increase in the use of the word, in news coverage and especially where I get my news, on Facebook, where most every woman of my acquaintance seemed to incorporate vagina into her Status.
Then came this ridiculous Akin business, in which he claimed that women’s bodies have ways of shutting down pregnancies resulting from legitimate rape [sic]. Which led to many hilarious things widely shared across the Interwebs, including this piece by Stephen Colbert.
And all while the news is flooded with reports about Pussy Riot in`Russia. I know I’m still 12, but can I just admit how much it cracks me up to hear posh-sounding BBC announcers say these words, Pussy Riot?
Honey, pay attention: Pussy is on the news again.
Meanwhile I’m reading the fantastic How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, which made me jump around and pump my fists and laugh and cry and FINALLY finally read things in print that I’d always thought, like this gem in Chapter 4:
So here is a quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your underpants.
(a) Do you have a vagina? and
(b) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If you said "yes" to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.
And despite having snarked mightily with some classmates about how she was taking navel-gazing to a new low (chortle, chortle, she was in our class), when I broke down and read an excerpt from Naomi Wolf’s new book, Vagina: A New Biography, re-printed in More magazine, I realized two things. One, that Naomi’s on to something, and two:
GOD DAMN, it’s the Year of the Vagina, yo!
Like I said, it could just be me. I sincerely hope not. And as much as I try to imagine it, I’m not quite sure how Time is going to manage that Vagina of the Year cover (although if someone wants to make me one, tasteful please, send it over). But it really feels absolutely true that this is the Year of the Vag. If you’ve got one, stand up and be proud.
Four years ago, I can remember being with my friends at a hotel in San Francisco where we were overnighting on a weekend trip. We met and hit it off with some young women from another state in the little wine-and-cheese thing the hotel put on in their Library between 6-8 pm. It was October 2008; we’d spent the day at an Oprah Winfrey sponsored event, followed by our usual well-honed demonstration of speed-shopping at Forever 21 and H&M. We were fired up from the speakers we’d heard that day, and from the Presidential election itself, then in its final weeks. With these new friends we made in the Library, we toasted Obama and this new world we seemed to be entering in which an African American man would be President, and all that that represented for women of our generation, born in the early 60s, child witnesses to the civil rights movement. It seemed a triumph to us then. We were alive with this sense that we were, again, witnessing history. Heady stuff, that.
That’s what now feels like for me. It’s not about the Presidential election this time, although, naturally, whether we progress along this path of true equality for women, no matter the rhetoric, will depend entirely on whether we have that stellar example of womanhood in the White House, Michelle Obama as First Lady, with perhaps, I heard rumors, Hilary Clinton as Vice President.
Instead I’m swept up in this excitement, this sense that it’s happening, finally, maybe in my lifetime, that my sisters and I shake off centuries of bullshit and all of us, not just me and the rest of the so-called elite dwellers of the paradise that is the San Francisco Bay Area, take our rightful place at the table.
And all because of the word Vagina and its repetition, and how that seems to be exposing so much gross ingrained antediluvian sexism, exposing it finally to the light of day and discourse, so we can kick its ass once and for all.
What a great time to be alive! Whether Time Magazine goes for it or not, I really, really think it’s unavoidable: 2012 is most definitely The Year of the Vagina.
Step up, ladies and gents: it’s time. This is our Pussy Riot. ;>
More from living