A few weeks ago, I took a pilates class to relax and clear my mind. This happened instead: "C'mon girls, relax your neck and pull that bellybutton in toward your spine," the teacher barked over loud music. "Let's go ladies! Tighten those cores, tighten your glutes -- and tighten that va-jay-jay!" Oh for god's sake.
First of all -- no. Just, no. And second of all -- NO. Never say that again. Ever. Anywhere. To anyone.
Now for the semantics. As a grown woman, you should be able to say the word vagina. Don't we do enough abbreviating these days? Must we address our genitals like that too? Tie-tie and tum-tum and cray-cray -- I'll cop to using some of those stupid phrases sometimes, and while they're certainly not my proudest moments as a writer, they are very different than referring to my vagina as something that sounds like the name of a cheerful puppet on a children's show. I'm not a little girl who hasn't mastered the art of pronunciation yet, and neither are you.
Semantics aside, there are much bigger issues here.
I work out to feel like a bad-ass. Of course there are physical benefits -- healthy heart and tight tush and blah blah blah. The thing that gets me to the gym when I don't want to go (which is every time I go) is the bad-ass thing. I exercise to stop my rat wheel of a mind, tune the world out, and leave feeling stronger. And I can't do that when you keep lobbing the phrase "va-jay-jay" around. Does that sound like something that makes you feel ready to head out and kick the day's ass? Because all it does for me is make me want to kick you -- in your va-jay-jay.
photo credit: Leg Up via photopin (license)
So please hear me when I say this: My vagina does not need to do pilates. I feel like that bears repeating. My vagina. Does not need. Pilates. No one's does.
And it has nothing to do with who's had kids and who hasn't -- it's not about anything physical. It's about finding one goddamn place in my life where I'm not turned into something sexual, and bombarded with the idea that as a woman, my value is inextricably linked to my sexuality. Woman as object for consumption. All I have to do is walk through the lobby of the gym and I see diet products everywhere and bright LCD screens that accost me with images of shiny, happy people using shiny, happy products.
Which is what makes it so important where you take me once I'm actually in the fitness studio. You are my guide to a different mental place, and where I end up depends upon how you guide me there. And taking me there via my vagina is completely unacceptable.
While I'm at it, here are a few other things I never want to hear again from a teacher at the gym:
- While working my ass, don't tell me to "squeeze it like a stripper holding onto a hundred-dollar bill." Whatever the opposite of empowerment is -- that sentence is it. Not to mention an image I could do without.
As the people closest to me will attest, I am not an especially easy person to please. I know that. I realize that often my expectations get the better of me, but I don't think this is one of those times. I'm asking for a few simple things: don't tell me to clench anything in my ass, don't perpetuate every nasty female stereotype, don't talk about your period, and please -- if you hear only one thing today -- leave my vagina out of it.
Connect with Dani on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram, and check out her blog Sum of My Pieces, for grownups like her who don't have their shit together. She writes about her messy life in order to write about things she thinks are important: societal expectations, sexuality, relationships, and the vortex that is social media.