Designer Vagina

Throughout history, human beings have imposed upon themselves all manner of expense and discomfort in the name of fashion. Whalebone corsets, Foot Binding, tattoos, piercings, and hot, powdered wigs, are but a few examples. Genital alterations themselves are certainly no recent invention either. Australian aborigines have been slicing the penis open longitudinally (modeling it on the venerable penis of the kangaroo) since time immemorial, and for at least two thousand years North African and various Arab-influenced cultures have been whacking the clits off little girls (Female Circumcision, calling it a “good custom”). Castration has been practiced, in various forms, over the millennia.

So why should anyone be surprised that women in Hollywood and Beverly Hills have moved beyond face lifts and breast implants to seeking out specialists in urology & plastic surgery to remodel their crotches into perfect replicas of those seen in Penthouse centerfolds? The only real difference between these new designer vaginas and more traditional "modifications" is technology and advertising. New surgical laser techniques developed to aid women with severely damaged pelvises (through car accidents, child birth trauma, and congenital deformity), have now become the ultra chic indulgence of women with more money than self-esteem.

The new trend began after women who’d had their "vaginal structures" surgically altered to prevent incontinence and the prolapse of their uterus and/or bladder (a condition which can result in these organs sliding out the woman’s vagina and dangling between her legs), discovered that sex was more enjoyable than it had been before the operation. Now billboards throughout LA LA Land (and Toronto) advertise that orgasmic bliss that can be yours (ladies only) if only you contact prestigious Doctor So-and-So for a private consultation. "You Won’t Believe How Good Sex Can Be!" one ad gushes. And apparently many of the patients offering testimonials agree -- they claim that their new tighter vaginas equal new, hotter, sex.

But not everyone is so ecstatic about this new twist on traditional vaginoplasty. To begin with, most doctors argue that the procedure puts women at risk for a loss of sensation in their genital region or even permanent scarring which could make intercourse painful, rather than more pleasurable. Add to this the usual risks of infection, plus the fact that with the area undergoing surgery so close to the rectum and bladder (and the nerves and muscles controlling it) the patient could end up needing diapers for the rest of her life. Naturally, one has to weigh risks against benefits. But considering that most patients of "designer vaginoplasty" are perfectly healthy, orgasmic women, it becomes obvious that greed and neurosis are the real ailments being addressed through the new procedure.

Of course, according to those offering the new love tuck, the operation is a godsend and they are the ministering angels. They seek only to help women reach their fullest sexual potential.

Betty DodsonYet ironically, according to that arch crusader for women’s sexuality, Betty Dodson, they are simply playing on women’s insecurities and reinforcing a harmful, outdated belief. Dodson’s chief gripe is that all this emphasis on tighter vaginas hinges on the assumption that a tighter vagina equals more genital friction during sex and that more genital friction equals more pleasure. (A view legitamized by Masters & Johnson decades ago.) What she says gets left out of this equation is the clitoris. Too many men, and even women, just don’t know what to do with the female clitoris. And this, she says, not vaginal relaxation is the cause of lousy sex.

In Dodson’s favor, sexual researchers since the 80’s have found that the more sexually aroused a woman is (by foreplay that emphasizes stimulating the clitoris), the more engorged her vulva and vagina becomes. That is, just like a man, a woman gets a "hard on". As she is aroused through prolonged manual and oral stimulation of the clitoris, more and more blood fills, or "engorges", her genital area – making her not only more deeply aroused, but also more easily aroused. That is, what felt good before now feels great. Fabulous. Insert penis, let the fun begin.

Unfortunately, full sexual engorgement can be undermined by a lot of things – from lousy foreplay stimulation to relationship problems to plain old exhaustion. No one thinks it odd that a man with three kids, a mortgage, mounting credit card debt, issues at work, and a lack of quality "alone time" with his wife might not be as horny (i.e. "hard") as he was as a newlywed. If he needs a little more coaxing to get in the mood and get it all the way up, so what – "How about some oral sex, honey?" But if his wife has the same trouble, for the same reasons, then one or both partners may assume there’s something "wrong" with her vagina – especially if she has borne children. (This despite the fact that the pressures on couples with young children create the classic recipe for sexual dysfunction.)

Indeed women with perfectly healthy, normal, and fully functional vaginas have sought out surgery for this very reason. In some cases because their husbands actually complained that sex wasn’t the same any more. Where a little more foreplay and some relationship counseling might have done the trick, instead there is costly surgery (prices start at $4,000) and an unbearable amount of pain. To quote one unfortunate patient, "Two kids I had without anesthesia and I can't even compare this pain. I was in bed for two weeks with constant sharp pain so bad I cried, and I had twinges of pain for over a month. I told everyone I had a hemorrhoid problem so they wouldn't ask why I was sitting on pillows.” Interestingly, this same patient says she’d do it all over again, believing it was what she had to do to save her marriage.

Many of those critical of designer vaginoplasty believe this is exactly what is on the minds of many of the Hollywood trophy wives seeking the operation, hence the emphasis on completely revamping their vulvas as well. Along with the shrinking of their love canals, they also ask for -- and get -- a nip-and-tuck for the labia minora, fat injection for the labia majora (for a rounded, unwrinkled look), and, if desired, a complete restoration of their long-absent Hymen.

The over-arching concern expressed by doctors and activists like Dodson, is that not only do these individual women run severe health risks in receiving the operation, but they say the attitudes of our society -- already skewed towards the veneration of teenage, virginal twats -- may become increasing warped in favor of unnaturally tight vaginas and look alike genitals, with more and more women feeling badly about what nature has bestowed upon them.

Meanwhile it may be worth reflecting upon the fact that in the Kama Sutra, the ancient love manual of India, it was taken as established fact that the genitals of women (and men) come in different sizes and that there are various erotic techniques to successfully navigate these differences. Furthermore, it was understood that with time and deepening familiarity -- as knowledge of each others bodies and individual turn-ons, coupled with love, increased -- a couple's sexual potential became greater.

All of which may partly explain why so many African cultures view the childbearing woman, not the teenage virgin, as the epitome of sexy and desirable. A fact which may be further explained by the physiological phenomenon whereby women who have born children also have more fully developed vaginas than do childless virgins -- making them capable of experiencing fuller engorgement and more pleasurable sensations. In fact, many sexologists have speculated that this phenomenon may make women who have born multiple children more capable of reaching orgasm through vaginal intercourse, than the skinny, pre-childbearing women that mainstream pornography celebrates.

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