A letter from your body

Amanda Marcotte fisks an offering from Not a Desperate Housewife that veers between the risible and the disturbing – a letter to a young woman from her vagina. Although the notion of a literate vagina invites mockery, it strikes me as a perfectly reasonable framework on which to hang advice: the problem only arises when the advice boils down to “save me for your future husband and all will be well”.

So I’ve shamelessly stolen the format, widened the focus so that the letter is from the whole body rather than just one part, and present my own version, possibly just as risible but hopefully not nearly as disturbing:

Greetings!

From what you read and hear, you might be forgiven for thinking that I belong to advertisers, or the government, or to your hypothetical future husband. I don’t. I belong to you and to you alone. Sometimes you need help or advice from other people about what’s best for me, but if you listen to me, you will understand me in ways no-one else can ever hope to understand me, and you must never let someone else’s opinion of what’s right override your own experience of me.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to share me with the rest of the world. I’d like us to get to know each other first, just the two of us. We can have lots of fun together, and all the while you’ll be learning about me and what I can do for you. When the time comes to share me, you’ll enjoy the experience far more for everything you’ve learned. Have the courage to use all that knowledge to make us both happy: anyone who tries to make you ashamed of knowing what you like is not someone you should be sharing me with.

Remember that you don’t have to share me with anyone who asks. Sharing me with one man doesn’t mean you have to share me with every man, and sharing me with a man once doesn’t mean you have to share me with him every time he wants me. And if you find you’d rather share me with women than with men, you don’t have to try out any man who thinks he can change your mind. No-one has an automatic right to me except for you: you always have the final say on how and with whom you share me.

Take care of me so that I can stay healthy and useful to you for years to come. Information about diet, exercise and so on is easy to come by, but when it comes to sexual health you’ll find yourself surrounded by myths and misinformation. Until we’ve got to know each other, I can’t tell you exactly how you should go about protecting us, but as a general rule, when there’s someone besides the two of us involved, latex is your friend.

The time may very well come in the future when you want babies. We’ll go through every step of it together, and you’ll get to know me better than you ever did before, but remember that making a baby is hard work. Please don’t think you have to go through it until we’re both good and ready. There are many ways to keep yourself from getting pregnant when you don’t want to be, and I trust you to choose one that works for us both. Don’t let anyone tell you that pregnancy is my job – I have many jobs, most of them quite unrelated to child-bearing.

I’ll do my best to be everything you want me to be, but remember that I have my limitations. Please be patient with me when I can’t do what you want straight away, and don’t be frustrated that I don’t look the same as the women you see in the adverts. It’s sometimes hard to love and accept me the way I am, especially in the face of pressure from the rest of the world, but if you can do that, we’ll both be happier than if you try to force me to be what I’m not.

I can’t make decisions on how to run our life together, so I’m trusting you to do that. Believe in yourself and remember all the lessons we learn together, and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

Thank you

Your body.

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10 Responses to A letter from your body

  1. 1
    mythago says:

    The ‘letter’ was way beyond merely advice to save oneself for a future husband. It promised that being a virgin until marriage meant you would never get an STD, for one thing, and then there was that weirdness about how the vagina was meant for “one and only one man”–so rape victims, widows, and born-again strumpets, too bad! You used up your chit, no more sex ever!

  2. Wonderful letter Nick!! :)

    Could I ask just one thing though? I don’t know for sure if your letter is just your body speaking to you, or if it’s a touch more widely intended … if it’s the latter, could you possible included ‘women’ in the third paragraphy of the letter? It’s just for some of us our bodies want to keep men away with a long stick and get really annoyed with us and sulk if we try otherwise *grin* Or maybe a statement about the body at some point sitting down with you about the kind of body we may want to be added to ‘our’ relationship? ;)

    And mythago was right, in that the original was the picture of Chrisitan ‘control over the body’ mixed in with moral judgements about what you couldn’t do with it (most of it was about the ‘can’t').

    Of course, my body and I have sat down a while ago and she promised me that if I ever consider doing the whole baby thing (and my vagina had REAL words in agreement, involving pain and ‘rugby balls’) then she was going on strike, and it wouldn’t be pretty :)

  3. 3
    Nick Kiddle says:

    if it’s the latter, could you possible included ‘women’ in the third paragraphy of the letter? It’s just for some of us our bodies want to keep men away with a long stick and get really annoyed with us and sulk if we try otherwise *grin*

    Most of the letter is gender-neutral for exactly that reason. It’s “men” in the third paragraph because I never heard the argument made that a woman who sleeps with one woman is obliged to sleep with any other woman who wants her, although I defer to your superior knowledge of relationships in the lesbian community and will edit if you think it would be an improvement.

  4. Most of the letter is gender-neutral for exactly that reason. It’s “men” in the third paragraph because I never heard the argument made that a woman who sleeps with one woman is obliged to sleep with any other woman who wants her, although I defer to your superior knowledge of relationships in the lesbian community and will edit if you think it would be an improvement.

    Yeah, I thought similarly when I read it, as the expectation of the ‘soiled’ woman now being available for any man doesn’t work to quite the same extent in the lesbian community, and didn’t know precisely how to work around that. Perhaps include that latter suggestion of mine, namely a statement about the body at some point sitting down with you to talk about the kind of gendered body we may want to be added to ‘our’ relationship?

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Information about diet, exercise and so on is easy to come by, but when it comes to sexual health you’ll find yourself surrounded by myths and misinformation.

    I don’t think I agree that information about diet and exercise free of “myths and misinformation” is easy to come by. But that nit-pik aside, I thought this was a wonderful letter; thanks for posting it.

  6. 6
    Amanda says:

    Very nice. Hopefully you won’t get trolled by the Cotillion ladies.

  7. 7
    Anne says:

    Am I evil for hoping they might show up?

  8. 8
    Nick Kiddle says:

    Am I evil for hoping they might show up?

    If you are, then I share your sin.

  9. 9
    Nick Kiddle says:

    Sarah: I’ve modified the third paragraph to make it explicit that some bodies would rather be shared with women than with men.

    Ampersand: I’m not sure how to amend the sentence about diet and exercise. I see what you’re getting at, but I think it’s still a lot easier to find out how to keep yourself healthy through diet than how to protect yourself from STDs. I’m open to any suggestions you might have.

  10. 10
    Sarah in Chicago says:

    Nick – Brilliant! I hadn’t even thought of bringing in the misogyny of homophobic constructions of gay women into there, love it :)