Purple Sage Fem examines a story of body shame from a woman who hates her labia, and makes a lot of pointed observations from it.
I can’t believe a mother made a negative comment about her 7-year-old’s labia! What on earth was she thinking? I don’t know why anyone would comment on a child’s genitals at all, and I especially don’t understand why anyone would want to give a child a sense of shame about her body. But shame she did. This girl was so ashamed of herself she wanted to cut herself with scissors, and all for no reason…
There is an obvious cultural factor behind her body shame. The tendency to see women’s sexuality as being only receptive (that we exist for penetration) leads people to make sex education material that de-emphasizes those parts of women that exist for our sexual pleasure and that don’t exist for the purposes of procreation. It’s important to teach teens how to prevent pregnancy, but it’s also important to teach things like body-positivity and enthusiastic consent. Both men and women need to value and respect female sexual subjectivity and female pleasure.
The other cultural factor that contributes to women’s shame is pornography, which is not mentioned in the article, but is still the elephant in the room. Large numbers of people are getting their sex education from pornography, and it is teaching that vulvas are all hairless and have small labia.