To be honest with you, lately I've been thinking quite a lot about vajazzling. Well, not really a lot a lot. It's not like I'm approaching my two year anniversary with my girlfriend and I have automatically developed an obsession with pussy decoration. I’ve just been thinking about it more often than usual. And like, it's normal that I've been thinking about it quite a bit, because it seems like you can't even move on the internet recently without bumping into someone talking about vajazzling, or possibly even making a joke about her lesser cousin, Clitter. Possibly it seems like I have been thinking about it more than usual because until like, May, I hadn’t thought about vajazzling at all, ever. And you know, the thought of vajazzling actually isn’t sitting that comfortably with me. Which is probably what it feels like to have tiny jewels glued all over your pubic area, but having never put on any kind of clam costume, I can't really comment. And as a don’t-knock-it-till-you’ve-tried-it kinda girl, maybe vajazzling is actually really great. (FYI, this approach to life also applies to beetroot, Vegemite and cream cheese on toast, as well as anal sex and handwriting analysis). But I still feel uncomfortable. About vajazzling, not anal sex.
Uncomfortable, offended. They’re all the same. I think I'm going to try and use this post to unwrap exactly what it is that is about vajazzling that is making me feel uncomfortable. If you don’t like disjointed self analysis and patchy feminist theory, stop reading now. Blogging; it's like psychotherapy but cheaper and more public.
To get started, here is that video where Jennifer Love Hewitt brought vajazzling into the public consciousness: (Link, in case my HTML doesn't work.)
And here is a YouTube of a lady called Bryce getting vajazzled: (Another link)
In last week’s post, I floated the following equation:
Sexual Repression + Capitalism + Sexism =Vajazzling
I think it would be appropriate to add “Pseudo-Feminism” to the list of Vajazzling’s contributing societal factors. But first, let’s tackle the good old fashioned anti-feminism at play here: Capitalism will find a way to exploit any weaknesses in our society, and sexism is one of them. Take Liz Lemon’s analysis of Valentine’s Day from 30 Rock: “Valentine’s Day is a sham created by card companies to reinforce and exploit gender stereotypes.” You could say the same thing about the cosmetics industry, plastic surgeons, and Vajazzling technicians.
When it comes to personal appearance, it’s no coincidence that femininity is marked by performance, while masculinity is just as often defined by men not performing things. Shaving your body hair is feminine; not shaving is masculine. Plucking, waxing, or bleaching stray facial hairs is feminine; growing a few days of stubble is masculine. Applying makeup is feminine; not painting your face is masculine. Dying, styling, blow-drying, and curling your hair is feminine; keeping a low-maintenance hair cut is masculine.
I suspect that this is because women are encouraged to achieve societal power through their appearance and sexuality, while men are encouraged to achieve power from . . . reaching real positions of power, like running companies and governments. Sure, women who are very successful at performing femininity can gain some real power, too. Maybe there’s a two-year window there where women can translate their success in this field into posing for Playboy, or shaking in a music video, or stripping, all of which can translate into money in the bank—until they get a little bit older and fall out of favor in those industries. Maybe some women can aspire to be trophy wives and get their social validation by being married to a successful man. The majority of women won’t be able to make a career out of performing femininity. And yet, we’re still shaving and waxing and plucking and dieting and padding and inflating and cinching and painting and dyeing and surgically trimming our labia and, now, vajazzling like it’s our jobs—even as we have been successful in claiming real power as Senators and CEOs and lawyers and doctors and journalists.
This is where the “a woman’s choice!” defenders come in. How could we possibly deny women the choice to engage in these behaviors, if that’s what they love? Look: I don’t begrudge women who make the choice to perform the behaviors of femininity. I perform many of them myself, on a daily basis! Resisting engaging in these things is almost impossible. But I don’t kid myself into thinking that I just love wearing lipstick because I was born that way, or that I shave my legs because I have somehow independently decided—without any influence from my culture!—that that’s the way I personally prefer my legs to look.
Of course I am offended by vajazzling. Of course I am offended by the culture of pussy shame that we live in, a culture where talking about your genitalia is gross and waxing all the hair off it is normal and where we all say vagina and not vulva, because why would we even bother getting the anatomy right for something as disgusting as what is between our legs? Of course I will defend a woman's choice to vajazzle, until I am blue in the face, but I think there is something bigger here. I am offended that getting a Brazilian is considered to be an appropriate anniversary gift, because here baby, why don’t you have a little less of me. I am offended because so many of my friends have had a boyfriend who wouldn't go down on them unless they had showered in the last five minutes. I am offended by the dudes I have slept with who expected me to blow them every time but who wouldn’t eat me out because they didn't like the taste. I am offended by a world in which I was ever an 18 year old in spotty pyjama shorts and freshly washed hair, dry humping the knee of a guy with dreadlocks but knowing I wouldn't let him get any further, not because I didn't want to but because I hadn't shaved that day. I am offended that labioplasty even exists. I am offended that when gay American author Dan Savage was asked about vajazzling, he said:
[It's] like asking a vegan for her opinion on the wallpaper in a steak house. I'm simply too revolted by what's on the menu to take much notice of the decor.
How hilarious Mr. Savage. I know that you’re gay, but being revolted isn't the same as being disinterested. Also, not all vegans are female, you asshat. I am offended that the censorship of mainstream soft pornography has warped our perception of what a normal vagina looks like. I am offended that labioplasty even exists in the first place. I am offended that some girls are too grossed out by their pussies to masturbate and I am offended that some of my female friends don't want to hear about my lesbian sex life because they think it's gross, even though THEY HAVE THEIR OWN VAGINA THAT I ASSUME THEY MAY HAVE TOUCHED AT SOME POINT. Of course it is this stuff I am offended by. Look, I had to use caps lock. But I also think that when it comes to my vajazzling discomfort, there is a little more than this.
I think that something else I’m uncomfortable about is how people seem to think that vajazzling is HILARIOUS. I am uncomfortable because the mainstream media coverage on vajazzling doesn't talk about the beauty myth or the performance of femininity or the increasing popularity of labioplasty. Not in the Stuff article or the Courier Mail blog or the Guardian piece or Fox News (but actually the Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece was pretty good.) They didn't mention it because it’s a joke, right? I am offended by how Ann Aitken Worth wrote on her Stuff news site blog Are We There Yet? that it must be uncomfortable to ride a bike vajazzled, and that that is funny, but nobody is amused about how it would be uncomfortable to ride a bike with waxing burn or Spanx or in heels and a pencil skirt because that shit is normal. In the quest for beauty it's normal to be uncomfortable and to have trouble taking a piss. I am offended that it's funny that a lady is just trying to please someone, probably a dude, and it's funny to laugh at either her low self esteem, or her wealth of pussy confidence. Or maybe she is an adult entertainer, and that's not a joke, it's job. Or is it funny because vajazzling is something that only sluts would do, and they wouldn't buy the cow if they could get the milk for free? I am offended because of course it makes me think of that Margaret Atwood poem. I am offended because I think there might be some kind of subtext here that pussies are obviously so gross and disgusting and ugly that why would you even bother putting crystals on them. I am offended because vajazzling is hilarious but waxing off all of your pubes at sixty bucks and three ingrown hairs a pop is normal and barely funny at all and it is expected. I am offended because nobody found that Gucci advert funny, and getting a ‘T’ waxed into your pubic hair for your boyfriend Tim’s birthday is a romantic gesture. I am offended because women are supposed to look effortlessly beautiful, and maybe vajazzling is funny because obviously women are trying a little bit too hard. I am offended because reading all of this stuff somehow cheapens my love of lipstick and MAC cosmetics and low cut tops, but I'll still be putting them all on again tomorrow and I don't whether it's because I love it or I think I love it. I am uncomfortable because everyone is just having a laugh and in that Crushable blog, the woman said that getting vajazzled actually hurts.
I’m sure there are some jokes about vajazzling that are really good. A joke about scissoring with disco ball comes to mind. I can’t be bothered developing it but you get the idea. Or when Amanda Hess and her equally great feminist blogger counterpart Sady Doyle said that the male counterpart for vajazzling could be dickerating. Or when my friend Felicity found a sequin from Scarlett’s mini skirt on her inner thigh, and Di made a joke about vajazzling and it was funny because it was topical because there were already sparkles near a vagina. Or maybe a joke about the glowing vagina poster for the Real L Word. Merkins, also possibly topical. I feel like these are acceptable jokes about vajazzling. But when you make a joke about vajazzling and you have no punch line, I don’t think it’s that great. Because you are either making fun of the rare woman who thinks her pussy is so wonderful that it deserves to be decorated, or you are laughing at a girl who is so embarrassed by her own anatomy that she feels compelled to rip her hair out and cover herself in crystals. Neither of which are all that funny really.