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Reinforcing a harmful stereotype



I have always believed in bodily autonomy. That a consenting adult must and should do whatever they want with the genitals that are theirs is a basic truth. Apart from this belief in bodily autonomy my other firm stance is that I will never get between a black woman and her ways of making money. If the ways are legal then I shall champion black women’s enterprises with my very last breath.

The two firm beliefs have however been largely challenged this week. If you, dear reader, has been anywhere near social media this past week you may have noticed the latest craze sweeping across the country. Vaginal tightening is all the rage in this land of ours and netizens are going crazy!

Now vaginal tightening is nothing new, all the way from high school women have heard and some even attempted all sorts of things to make their vaginas tighter and as close to virginal as possible. Substances ranging from the harmless cinnamon milk combo to the corrosive inserting snuff into your vagina method have long been lauded as the solution to a loose nuna.

What has never been mentioned however, is what is exactly used to measure the tightness of a vagina and what dimensions are generally considered acceptable? In my experience I have only ever heard a woman being accused of a loose vagina from a disgruntled ex-boyfriend.

A testimony I always found dubious considering these men never complained whilst the relationship was ongoing. As I said, people are at liberty to do with their genitals as they please but the fascination with tight vaginas serves to reinforce a harmful stereotype.

In fact fascination is not the word. The correct term is obsession. The latest offering by a spa is not what is the problem here. If anything it is but a reflection of how obsessed our society is with tight vaginas.

Vaginal tightness has been and is still regarded as a measure of purity and good morality. The test for this has been that if a woman has slept with one man even if it was a hundred times then her vagina must be tight. If she has slept with five different men then her vagina is loose.

I am not particularly well versed in physics or whatever branch of science that is but the maths is not adding up. Woe unto her if one of the men in question happens to be of West African descent because somehow that makes it looser.

As with all things oppressive southern Africans will always find a way to add a little spice of xenophobia for good measure. It seems therefore the standard of vaginal tightness is nothing more than a tool to slut shame women and keep them in check for daring to have consensual sex with the bodies that they own.

While all the above are reasons to worry to be sure, they are a secondary problem. What really grinds my gears on our society’s obsession with tight vaginas is the belief that it is a matter of age and that the tighter and fresher the vagina the better.

“Tighter and fresher” is a term I have actually heard adult men use. If tighter and fresher is the gold standard then the solution has been said to sleep with younger women. So you see, it goes from being a small harmless joke to actually reinforcing the idea that men must sleep with younger women.

In pursuit of a tighter vagina men have sought out women barely out of their teens. There is a saying in Lesotho that “After 12 ke lunch” which in essence means that since 1300 hours is the official lunch time then girls as young as 13 are ripe and ready for sexual intercourse and indeed even for the marital bed.

It is seen as a matter of pride in some parts of Lesotho even to marry a woman as young as one possibly can to ensure that one gets a fresh vagina that has not loosened from over-use.

Now far be it from me to chastise men for their beliefs. I could but it is often a tiring thankless job. What worries me are the scores of women willing to put their health at risk in search of a tighter vagina.

Grown women inserting snuff into their privates! Educated women with the resources to use the internet stuffing beads and herbs despite trained gynecologists warning against the practice!

It is terrifying how far women will go in search of a tighter vagina. The gag always is how can you even tell if you need to tighten anything?

Now I am aware that there are valid medical reasons that necessitate treatment to one’s pelvic floor. I am not by any means a doctor. I am also not against the latest spa offering as it is simply one woman taking advantage of an already existing belief but I do worry and heavily so about the beliefs and consequences behind our need for tighter vaginas.

That being said, grown people will and must do whatever they want with their bodies.

Thakane Rethabile Shale

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