• The vagina is self-cleaning – so why does the ’feminine hygiene’ industry exist ? | Society | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/04/the-vagina-is-self-cleaning-so-why-does-the-feminine-hygiene-industry-e ?

    From talcum powder to jade eggs and douches, an industry has grown up to sell products – some of which are harmful – that play on women’s fears about being dirty or smelly

    The vagina is an amazing organ. It is lined with a mucous membrane that protects against infection (necessary in any part of the body that opens to the outside world), as well as a clever, complex mix of bacteria – also known as vaginal flora – that does the same thing (only the bowel has more bacteria than the vagina). Together, they keep the vagina healthy. It is self-cleaning, too, keeping itself safe and hygienic with secretions. (One day, I will get used to gynaecologists referring to my vagina as “a self-cleaning oven”.)

    All women have a DIY vagina-vulva-wash of mucus, which can vary in appearance and volume throughout the menstrual cycle. It is mostly highly effective, except in the case of infection, including STIs, which can be signalled by a change in colour, thickness or odour. (Odour can become slightly muskier due to exercise or sex; if anything is noticeably different, or you itch, get a medical professional to check it.) But you would not know about our natural powerwash from the size and value of the industry that has grown up to tell women we smell.

    For every mention of “fresh”, look for the fear at which it is aiming: fear that we smell of period blood or are leaking; fear that we smell in general; fear that our sexual partners will mock or reject us because of what our vaginas and vulvas look or smell like. The jingle for baby talc was “a sprinkle a day keeps the odour away”. There is a reason that “you smell” is one of the most powerful playground taunts: it is the accusation we fear most and the hardest to protest. We all fear fishy.

    The odds are your vagina and vulva look and smell normal, because, when it comes to genitalia, normal is a very big category. In a paper studying the range of female genital appearance, researchers at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital in London found that “women vary widely in genital dimensions”, but that “detailed accurate representations of female genitals are rare ... although representations of female nudity are common”. Rates for cosmetic genital surgery are soaring above rates of genital disease diagnosis. Something is deformed, but it is women’s thoughts, not their genitals.

    To ensure cleanliness, the vulva needs nothing fancier than water, mild soap and a gentle pat dry (do not rub).

    Douching, as this is called, is done by one in five American women aged 15 to 44. Commercial douches can contain antiseptics, as well as potentially hazardous chemicals such as parabens, along with fragrances that are unknown: because these are cosmetic products, the US’s Food and Drug Administration requires only that manufacturers do not include anything “deleterious” in their products and trusts manufacturers to comply – it does not require any testing of products before they are launched. In short, products you are putting in close quarters with a highly porous part of your body are less stringently regulated than cough sweets.

    Women are advised to use plain, unperfumed soaps to wash the area around the vagina (the vulva) – not inside it – gently every day. During a woman’s period, washing more than once a day may be helpful.”

    I wonder if such statements would be necessary if “vulva” were as conversational as “sex”. If we discussed our fears about vulvas and vaginas – conversationally, with GPs or health professionals and with our partners – as easily as we seek help for a headache, the aisles of feminine washes, sprays, douches and wet wipes, all those sticking plasters on our fears and embarrassment, would vanish.

    #femmes #santé #cosmétiques #sexe #vulve #vagin #gynécologie

    Où l’on apprend qu’il y a de l’amiante dans les produits pour bébé. Et que : (The vagina is a tube of muscle that joins the cervix and the vaginal opening ; the vulva is the exterior genitalia.), il vaut mieux préciser devant l’incapacité à nommer un sexe de femme.

    • Il suffit parfois d’un mec qui nous suggère que nous puons de la chatte pour que nos connaissances sur les dangers à long terme ne résistent pas au bénéfice de faire comme tout le monde. La logique, outre cet arbitrage entre deux temporalités, outre le terreau d’ignorance concernant le sexe féminin et ses besoins physiologiques, c’est la captivité des unes et des autres (et en l’occurrence, surtout des unes vu leur super situation dans la domination symbolique) aux structures et aux représentations sociales.

      Suggérer que des femmes, dans la situation pourrave qui est la leur, puissent être responsables de leur malheur en faisant de mauvais choix de consommation ou de comportement, c’est une idée assez libérale : voyons, tout le monde peut le faire. Il suffit de prendre la peine de causer avec une meuf pour se rendre compte de l’insécurité qui est la nôtre, de la crainte de déplaire, de la crainte d’être la seule à ne pas s’épiler les jambes ou la chatte, ne pas avoir une chatte qui sent la fleur, ne pas faire opérer ses lèvres grosses ou asymétriques, etc.

      Il y a des bouquins comme @beautefatale qui causent de l’exploitation de cette insécurité fondamentale et inséparable de ce que c’est, d’être une femme dans un monde où les hommes ne se posent pas beaucoup de questions sur la vie que nous sommes contraintes de mener... En fait, il existe tout un mouvement pour répondre à cette question de pourquoi les femmes ne font pas ci ou ça, mouvement qui s’appelle féminisme. À lire également, les livres d’Élise Thiébaut sur les règles, L’Origine du monde de Liv Strömqvist, etc.


    • Je crois que si cette question me met en rogne, ce n’est pas seulement parce que c’est une question naïve qui ignorent tout ce qu’on sait de la soumission volontaire et du fonctionnement des sociétés libérales, je crois que c’est parce que c’est toujours aux plus vulnérables qu’on demande d’être plus vertueux/ses et courageux/ses qu’aux autres, ceux qui sont bien tranquilles dans leur fauteuil.