“I was getting my regular pap smear test in London. I had this examination many times before and it’s always been a straight forward procedure. However, this one left me feeling like a freak! The doctor asked me when giving the examination if I had been circumcised. Of course I hadn’t and was totally scared and panicked when he asked me. I replied no and asked why he would ask. He didn’t reply and had terrible bed side manners. After the procedure, he left the room and the nurse remained. Luckily she was a lot more gentle and considerate. I was quite upset and asked her if there was something wrong. She explained to me that I was missing part of my labia. Apparently, a very small population are missing part of the labia and that in some countries they circumcise this part of a female. Wow, that was different!
I walked away really not knowing how I felt. I was annoyed that no other doctors had told me before and furious with how I found out without the doctor giving an explanation and the way he had asked me. I told the guy who I was seeing at the time and he said “I thought you looked a little different. It looks really neat and nice and I really like looking at it, so don’t worry”. I did feel much better after hearing his feedback. Since the experience, I have felt slightly proud and content with the way it looks!”
“If I was to actually describe why I am interested in this project it stemmed from a discussion I had with friends over New Years. The boys were talking about who was circumcised and who wasn’t, and then the conversation turned to vaginas. I’m not very well versed in vaginas. I have one, but I don’t really look at it. It’s a part of me, but unknown to me. I know how things feel. I know folds and crests and ridges, and points of pleasure. But I do not define my vagina. It simply is.
Anyway, the conversation turned to ‘innies’ and ‘outies’. The interesting thing was, we knew nothing about them. None of us. I had to turn to one of my male friends and ask him what I ‘was’. The boys had very clear ideas of what makes a ‘good’ vagina, but I couldn’t even begin to describe a framework. I think vaginas resist words, resist definitions, cannot be constrained or presented in language. And that’s why I’ve suddenly become interested in looking at my vagina, quite literally. I suppose I am trying to see another part of myself.”