One of the things that I'm most proud of is that the work we're doing is evergreen. When Betty pens a new essay or we produce a new video, I imagine people viewing it a century from now.
This comment came in over the weekend on a post Betty had written about a private session she had with a woman who'd survived FGM (female genital mutilation). 6 years later and it's still relevant. Whether we've experienced a physical or psychological cutting from trauma the result is the same - shame:
"I just stumbled across this article after finding your site doing some research and this article touched me in a way I wanted to share. I can't directly relate to FGM, thankfully, but I am a childhood rape and sexual abuse survivor. Ironically the one semi good thing I had going was that even as a young child I knew how to masturbate to orgasm and was never told it was wrong. In fact I didn't even so much know what I was doing but because I had been abused I sort of knew the connection to sex in a hazy vague childhood way. I almost never would actually touch myself, just cupped my outer lips and rocked against my hand.
I remember my fear at discovering my labia minors, mine are sort of ragged and one side actually looks sort of like a flower petals unaroused but almost comes to a point when aroused (obviously I have spent much time exploring my genitals since!). I don't know how to fully describe it and I've never seen another vulva like mine. But we're I to show you, I think you could understand just why as an abused child when I first found it, I was convinced I had been torn, damaged. In a sense I believed my genitals had been mutilated though they were not. At least I was not cut, though for sure I was abused, violated. It's been a long road towards healing. And in fact it wasn't until just now after typing the last few sentences that I even understood myself just why it is this article resonated so much with me. Of course. In making the comparison you did between Badu's fear of looking or touching with many American women it allowed me to make my own connection.
I wasn't overtly taught shame though abuse gave me that and I didn't know any better and had that combination of fear but fascination and I believed the man who raped me had permanently damaged me. That's such a huge thing to even say to anyone. I've dealt with and worked through so much of my issues with sex but only now even after all that work, even after lots of freely touching and enjoying my own vulva, only just now am I coming to terms with my shame at what I falsely believed about my body. I used to even up into adulthood fear anyone looking at me, sexually, medically. Like somehow they'd see me and know what happened, think something was wrong. Having health issues too, I can so relate to the clenching up and that physical memory of trauma...
I'm unpartnered and a lesbian and I really, really love everything about cunts (I even personally just love the word cunt!) I love the way they look, feel, taste, smell. My ultimate sexual fantasy that gets me off is just imagining giving oral sex to another woman. I have so much reverance towards a partner or woman I love's cunt. Absolute reverence. Yet still I tense up, I panic. I get knocked right out of my arousal should a partner get close to mine. So I'm working on this. I'm learning to finally love my own cunt. It's tough yet also baffling how I can be so so into a partners and so panicky about my own. But this is perhaps the key, healing my own issues, examining my childhood belief that something was wrong, that I had been damaged. I long to have a partner I can trust completely who will view and lick and love my cunt with all the reverance I would give hers but first things first, I've got to learn to view my own self that way.
So, a lot of thoughts and feelings from me. This barely scratches the surface but I just wanted to thank you for this article. Six years after it was posted I seem to have found it exactly when I needed it and I hope it will be a catalyst to my own healing."