Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Read My Lips - by Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick

The subtitle of this is "The Complete Guide to the Vulva and Vagina." I must say it is rather complete. Readers will find chapters (among others) on arousal; sex toys; birth control; masturbation; menstruation; vaginal health; ideas for vagina and vulva arts & crafts; and information on vagina and vulva maintenance which includes my favorite topic (NOT) - pubic hair shaving. When did this become a thing? I keep seeing articles about it on my FaceBook feed always with the authors explaining their choice to shave or not, as if there is some sort of major policy debate we have to have on this issue. Shave or don't - your partner will just be happy to see you naked.

Anyway, I did learn a lot from reading this comprehensive work. One thing I learned is that viewing Playboy, and similar magazines, is where many young women will find their first images of vulvas other than their own, and these "...may misinform women and men about what's 'normal' for women in terms of their genitals. Because people want to feel normal this is important." But what about women who find images elsewhere, for instance those who "seek out anatomy textbooks in their local libraries." The authors point out that this is not the norm.
Given how private people feel about genitals (some people call them "privates"), it is less likely that people are openly seeking out these images when they have access to a plethora of vulva images on their home computer. 
 They are probably right in this regard. I should, therefore, point out that librarians are trained to use the utmost discretion when assisting people with their research, and also to respect their privacy. This is actually federal law. Unfortunately, this was the one and only mention of libraries in Herbenick and Schick's book. Sigh.

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