So, we try (hard. very hard. Sometimes too hard, I am certain) to create a loving, open minded, truthful, honest, anti-body shaming, self loving, lack of self depreciating, accepting, self loving (yup, I even say my cheesy, cellulite covered butt and saggy I-nursed-two-babies-for-nearly-5-years boobs are amazing and beautiful – particularly in front of my daughters), you can wear whatever spaghetti straps to school you wish, feminist (not in the “evil” way — is there an “evil” way?) kind, household as major cornerstones of raising two young girls in the 21st century. A big part of that, for us (and we hope others) is educating our daughters regarding the accurate terminology and gynecological care of their female private parts from the beginning of their awareness of said parts.
(We truly hope others do, too. This is likely not happening, unfortunately. Liv has gotten into at *least* three arguments with girls older than her – she was trying to convince them that their labia and/or vagina is not a “woo-woo” or a “pee-pee”. Needless to say: we don’t see those families much.)
This means that while dealing with your baby (read: recently turned three year old) because she is howling that her “labia hurts a LOT!” you suddenly find yourself explaining to your 3 year old that her vagina is different than her labia is different than her clitoris is different than her uterus. And also that while I am pseudo forcing her to clean her girly bits and teaching her why this part stings when she doesn’t wipe/wash hand well, I answer the questions using the correct terminology.
And I’m stuck in that uncomfortable, unpleasant grey area where you want to teach your child “only you and a trusted adult (followed by a definition of “trusted adult” which is likely over her head) can touch your privates.” And mostly, no one should ever, ever, (EVER) FORCE her to allow access to her private body parts….
The unfortunate thing is that this conversation is occuring while I (the trusted adult, loving parent, MAMA) am doing almost the exact same thing because forjesusfuckssakeshesredscratchingandburningandhervajayjayneedsattention!!! And (of course) I am failing to explain this exception. I am mumbling that it’s a parent’s job to ensure health, safety, and hygiene…yet failing, miserably to accurately convey the importance of the message. (*sigh*) I did tell you that’s she’s three, for fuck’s sake, right?!!!
But, with a huge, epic sigh of relief, after several hours of pain, discomfort, wipes, hand-washing, cream application and explanation (after explanation, after explanation) …finally (FUCKING FINALLY!!!) you find yourself full of relief because you feel as though you have reached a point of acceptance, understanding, and most of all, cleanliness….at least as much as you can when the audience is your 3 year old bitty bit.
And then, less than 15 minutes later, you find yourself projecting yet another kind of deep sigh – as she tells the super conservative, Korean, recently immigrated neighbor that her “labia and clitoris, but not vagina (because it wasn’t hurting before!) feel much better!”
Yay! :blush: She used the right words! She was SHAME FREE! I’m raising a FEMINIST!!!
I know this is a good thing, especially in the long run of her self worth and clutural acceptance, but I think we may have just alienated a new neighbor of a different culture….
Next lesson: cultural sensitivity and the importance of experiencing (while respecting, of course) other cultures. With a three year old.
It’s no wonder I have panic attacks and rarely sleep, huh?
#21stcenturyfeministparentingfailorsuccess – let me know in the comments!!