Monday, March 13, 2006

Women's Health: The folly of 'should'

In the grand tradition of this site's commitment to including as much information on women's health - and sexual health in particular (for as long as we're all subjected to Levitra ads) - I offer now this article from the LA Times on plastic surgery for your privates. I regret having so fervently objected to Brazilian waxes now.

Feminists too have criticized the trend. Judy Norsigian, co-founder and author of the feminist health tract "Our Bodies, Ourselves," says women who have these surgeries are taking risks to adhere to standards of feminine beauty that are fleeting, unnatural and, ultimately, dictated by a society in which men are fixated on barely pubescent girls.

Norsigian and others have spoken out against Brazilian waxes, a popular hair removal trend that leaves all but a tiny wisp of pubic hair intact, as a reflection of that fetish. In turn, by making women's genitals more visible, the Brazilian wax trend has naturally led more women to take the risky next step of having their genitalia surgically altered, she says.

"We live in a country where people are always thinking up new things, new practices, new ways to make money," says Norsigian. "And if you can play upon an insecurity, you can get a lot of people to do a lot of things."

But many of the patients who pay from $7,000 to $18,000 to have their genitals nipped, tucked and rejuvenated aren't buying the arguments of those who would portray them as feckless pawns.

"I consider myself a feminist, and I feel this is so empowering," says Katie Sokey, a 36-year-old South Pasadena resident on whom Matlock recently performed laser vaginal rejuvenation. "It was a way to take charge of my own sexuality" after giving birth naturally to three strapping babies.
The frequent collision between empowerment and subjugation should stop somewhere short of my pants, thank you very much. I suppose if a woman considered breast enhancement to match popular notions of beauty, than altering her genitals makes as much sense. But, really? This is something women will do? Reconstructive surgery aside, do we really need to go there?

One plastic surgeon quoted in the article says many women are prompted strictly by aesthetics:

They are, says Alter, "women who are in tune with what they should look like."
Ponder for a moment, if you will, the word "should" in that sentence.

Women who elect for this sort of surgery to correct the physical consequences for childbirth I can understand. But good grief, I have enough trouble keeping my hairstyle current, now there are standards for what that area "should" look like?

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