Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Women Being Shamed For Being Women: On Vaginal Discharge

Women Being Shamed for Being Women

On Saturday night's Celebrity Big Brother (23rd January), I was disgusted with what I saw.

(Let's put aside for the mo that it's Celeb BB, ok? I know some people don't like it, but I do. This is not strictly about the programme, so please bear with me.)

Chris Maloney, John Partridge and Darren Day were around the dinner table, going through dirty washing left in the bathroom. Later, we discovered the washing belonged to Stephanie Davis (who claimed the washing was left there so she could wash it. Granted, leaving your dirty washing just hanging around is out of order, but let's put that aside, too).

Chris was going through each item and laying them out on the table. He got to some knickers and laid them out. Almost immediately, all three guys made noises of disgust, and John started going on about how a pair of knickers had "pigeon shit" in the gusset. He said whoever those knickers belonged to needed to be "named and shamed". The knickers were left on the table, with the stain on show for all to see. In John goes to the bedroom to tell all who will listen about the knickers, and out the others come to have a gawk, Gemma Collins declaring, "That's not normal!"

All over a bit of vaginal discharge.

The reaction was absolutely ridiculous. The grief Stephanie got and how she was humiliated for having stained knickers was disgusting. It's just another example of women being shamed for being women.

Vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. It's the vagina's way of keeping itself clean and healthy. It's not dirty or disgusting. The following is from the Embarrassing Bodies' Website:

It’s perfectly normal for [...] women to experience vaginal discharge. [...] Vaginal discharge usually begins just before puberty and ends after the menopause. Effectively this is your vagina cleaning itself. Normal discharge is clear, white or creamy and may give off a musky smell, but it’s not unpleasant. You may notice the amount changing from time to time and getting heavier just before your period. Sexual arousal or pregnancy may also bring an increase.
It's a natural bodily function. Some women choose to use panty liners to absorb their discharge, others choose not to. There is no right or wrong, it's down to personal preference. But to shame a woman for another bodily fluid she has no control over is unbelievable - yet at the same time, it's not.

Of course, discharge is another a well known secret of which women Must Not Speak - or if discussed, must be done so in hushed tones - lest the menfolk hear and are disgusted by the otherness of women's bodies and how they work. Because it is revolting. Because the secrets of the female body will only turn men off us, and then who will want us?!

Do. Me. A favour.

Not only is that idea heteronormative, we're living in the 21st century. Yes, women are human too. And our bodies require us to poo, pee, fart and burp, and yes, some women have periods and vaginal discharge, too. Get the hell over it.

Enough is enough. Women should not be made to feel ashamed of their bodies and how they work. We should not have people humiliating us for stains left in our knickers. It doesn't make us dirty. It doesn't make us disgusting. It's not something to make a big deal about. It just is.

It's about time the rest of the world reacted how Jeremy McConnell did, who was completely unbothered, removed the knickers from the table, and had a whole "What does it matter?" attitude towards the whole thing.

Come on, world. Catch up.

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