I am counting on this group of 80 million born in the U.S. between 1980 and the early 2000s to get health care for women back on track. This group of forward-thinking, confident, tech-and-gadget-savvy group can change the rules that, so far, haven’t been proven helpful in moving women in the right direction for their health care rights. This generation is our upper hand, the ones who are known not to sit back and allow “business as usual.”
It’s time to call upon the millennials in the name of the newly acclaimed “pussy generation,” a name which the new administration has sparked. Donald Trump’s now infamous saying, “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything,” should piss women off!
We all need to change the narrative on how we talk about our bodies and our vaginas—especially Trump and his administration. The Vagina Revolution is all—pink hats and all!
During our recent election, Hillary Clinton won the youth vote, 55 percent, while Donald Trump only received 37 percent. Clinton was our chance to continue to change the downward direction of women’s equality. Clinton has called Millennials “the best educated and most diverse population of young people in U.S. history.” Our momentum with the Obama administration was stopped abruptly when Trump became the 45th President. For a woman’s voice to be heard in many arenas, including health care, they must first be politically driven by this strong voice. Millennials play a vital role in pushing the female agenda, including healthcare and the Vagina Revolution. They dominate social networks, an important part of their digital lives and a way to connect about personal matters.
A 2016 survey found that the percentage of uninsured Millennials has declined to 11 percent, which is an all-time low for this group. Millennials care about their health care, and now we need to hear their voices in the name of women and their vaginas!
Our health care system is broken. Women are being forced back into the closet. They are losing their sense of self, confidence, and body awareness. It’s time for a Vagina Revolution—a movement for women to not be afraid to talk about their specific health care issues. Something has to change in what is happening in the 21st century with women and their ability to speak freely about the sensitive issues affecting their bodies—including, of course, their vaginas.
There are many reasons I am counting on Millennials to change the tide of the way we view women’s health care needs by embracing their momentum and influence in today’s world.
Doctors are one of the key voices of health information for Millennials. More than half of Millennials have some health condition, so they are more in touch with their doctors. The most common health conditions experienced by Millennials included depression, anxiety disorders, and being overweight. They own these medical conditions and are not afraid to deal with them head-on. I am counting on Millennials to continue this trend of openness and shamelessness in discussing their problems in the name of transparency, and normalizing every day medical conditions that so many of us experience.
In 2012, a bill was presented on the House floor seeking to regulate the use of the word “vagina” after Michigan Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking because she used the term in a debate over an anti-abortion bill. Representative Mike Callton said, “Brown’s comment was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women…I would not say that in mixed company.”
Really? A ban on a word that is used as a medical term, and which, in a larger sense, defines half of our country’s population?
I met this roadblock face-to-face when I was promoting my book She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. What I found was that mainstream media didn’t want me to use the word “vagina” when discussing my book. They were okay with me talking about women’s health care issues, as long as I didn’t say the word “vagina” in the same sentence. The fact that I was asked to talk about women’s health without being allowed to mention our most important organ was shocking, disappointing, and contradicting!
Vaginas are everywhere—and one of the reasons is because porn is on the rise. No one seems to want to admit how this new prevalence, and its resulting misconceptions about sex and the vagina, is—or isn’t—changing our romantic and sexual relationships, and our relationships to our bodies and ourselves.
Dr. Gail Dines a professor of sociology, modern day hero, and leading anti-porn feminist to tie the “porn monster down that has taught our girls to hypersexualize and purify themselves.” How to we stop this fast-moving train? Dr. Dines is on a mission that she calls “Education, Education, Education.” She, along with her group Cultured Reframed, plans to use a public health approach similar to how we were educated about drinking alcohol and driving. She won’t be the only one wanting to reclaim our young girls and boys!
There’s no denying it. Porn is everywhere. Dr. Dines puts a perspective on this issue of accessibility of porn: “Porn sites get more visitors each month then Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.” A recent statistic found that 70 percent of children ages eight to 18 report having unintentionally stumbled across pornography online. The average age for a child to be exposed to pornography is now 11 years old. This means that our children are often “learning” about “normal” sexual behavior and physical appearance from the likes of Jenna Jameson and John Holmes. Many women (and men) now expect, even want, all vaginas to look like Jenna’s does. Girls and guys alike visit porn and other sexually graphic websites, and not just to get off, but also to see what the perfect vagina and the ideal penis look like.
As a result of social media, some women have been made to feel vagina insecurity. And I do not just see this in patients, either, although it’s something that comes up regularly in my examining room. It’s everywhere. An internet search of the word “vagina” brings up a variety of links, many leading to everyday women showing off their vaginas; YouTube videos of women talking about vaginal rejuvenation, websites devoted to discussing and examining anything vagina-related, and, of course, porn sites. These are the reference points that young women—women of all ages, really—now use when seeking the ideal of the perfect vagina. Adolescent boys are having the same issues regarding the size and length of their penises, even though, like vaginas, no two penises or scrotums are the same.
This is where I come in—with my agenda of vagina empowerment! I want to reduce women’s anxiety and give them an accurate view of the vagina in general. The perfect vagina is a medical norm and not an aesthetic ideal. Millennials understand this, and I need them to stand with me as we break the glass ceiling on removing the shame and embarrassment about their bodies and vaginas. Together, we can reduce this anxiety and help women have more realistic expectations. Maybe Millennials can start a campaign: When yours are perfect, you can comment on mine!
You know what’s normal? Different is normal. The only qualities that make a vagina “perfect” are personal confidence and good health. Millennial are confident, fearless, strategic, creative, and resourceful. I need all these qualities to help women of all ages embrace their bodies most authentically. No issue should be off limits. Typical topics that are often ignored include masturbation, orgasm, sexual identity and exploration, and gender equality in the bedroom. There is so much to discuss when it comes to a woman’s yearly gynecologic exam that needs to be taken up about their health care that has nothing to do with pap smears, periods, and menopause. Aside from the sensitive issues of painful sex, inability to have an orgasm, vaginal dryness with sex, and vagina insecurity, there are other difficult subjects linked to the vagina like depression, anxiety, and hormone imbalance.
The Vagina Revolution is a metaphor for women’s need to talk health care issues unique to them—issues that are so often ignored. There are very few places where women feel at ease talking about their vaginas without feeling judged, so at the very least, a doctor’s office should be a bastion of comfort. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Sadly, the conversation with your doctor or health care provider probably goes something like this: “Are you having any problems with your period? Any menopausal issues? Okay, great, now scooch down.”
In the blink of an eye, the visit and conversation are over. Wham, bam, thank you, Ma’am!
I have been called a “Vagina Crusader” as I stand on my soapbox bringing attention to women’s health care deficiencies. I need the millennial generation to help me hold the torch for women and their vaginas. Ninety-one percent of Millennials use Facebook as a means to “engage more actively with the news.” Women and health care are newsworthy, and I want this group of activists to help me in my crusade.
Millennials have the energy, ambition, and dreams to help make the changes necessary to empower women to take control of their bodies and health. It’s them who I am counting on the modification the rules of health care for women and how we talk about our bodies. These women need to stand arm-in-arm and continue the women’s movement in all areas, especially health care. They are the driving vehicle for civic participation and much-needed change.
The best description I have read of Millennials is their ability to be passionate and collaboratively interactive. I know this group of trailblazers is up to the task to change the status quo and join me in the vagina revolution.
This is the year of the Vagina, in one way or another—the Vagina Revolution is on, and I know the millennial generation will be the foot soldiers!