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Genitalia: How Men and Women Perceive their Privates
This month, the Sexperts face-off on the age-old question of whose junk is more acceptable.

Trevor Howell, www.323photografix.com
Dr. Trina Read and Dr. Brian Parker discuss the nether regions.

Dr. Brianís Point: Youíre taking this too far. [Most] men donít care about appearance.

So Trina, weíve discussed in that past that 80 percent of women arenít happy when they look in the mirror, but what do you chicks think about your vulvas?

Research shows that you girls donít dig your "precious" as much as we men love our "tools." Twenty-two percent of you donít like the smell of your privates, while only 3 percent of guys think their wiener smells like "mouldy cheese." And, plenty of you buy into the douching routine. In fact, a study sponsored by Summerís Eve (perhaps a little biased) found that women have better genital image if they had control over their bodyís freshness.

Other studies have found that a lot of you girls donít like the texture and amount of your pubic hair. What the heck is happening down there ladies?

As a man, I canít blame you girls for thinking your genitals look "weird." Society perpetuates this myth, does it not Trina?

When we compare slang words for penis and vulva itís easy to see that a guyís piece (dong, dick, stick, sword) is powerful. Slang for a womanís tender regions arenít so positive: beaver, box, beef curtains, and bearded clam donít sound too appealing. As a male, I think it is important to note that it is mainly men who use these slang terms and the ones who keep these myths afloat.

Most men connect daily with theirs and we know that women do that a quarter less then men. A dudeís tube is external whereas most of your nether region is internal. A boy gets to know his pee-pee at a very early age. For you ladies out there who have seen a baby boy get his diaper changed, youíve probably noticed that the first thing little Johnny grabs is his junior. Why, you ask? Because it is full of nerve endings and it feels good.

Boys also learn to touch themselves when they get potty trained, becoming very familiar with his dingle-dangle by puberty. Weekly, heíll check himself out in the mirror and see whatís happening down there. How many of you girls have taken a good look at your mid-section?

Trina, when are you girls going to stop worrying about being stinky or having an afro jetting out your shorts? Us men donít care and neither should you.

Dr. Trinaís Counterpoint: The vulva stigmata runs deep. Itís going to take some time there, Brian.

This is a difficult one Brian, because thereís a lot of, "Rah-rah, love you vulva" literature out there. But I believe itís going to take a generation or three before women can start claiming it as true.

When the "Vagina Monologues" burst onto the scene in the 1990s it was big news. Women naming their vaginas was weirdness in itself; women reclaiming the "C" word to make it acceptable was completely crazy. Yet, women left the play in droves feeling empowered to love their vulvas.

Somehow, sadly, not much has changed with how women feel about their "va-jay-jays." It doesnít help that, for example, hugely influential people like Oprah can only say "va-jay-jay," thus putting the cause back into the dark ages.

In past workshops, Iíve asked women to draw their vulvas. Besides looking at me like I have three heads, participants thought the exercise rather gross. Brian, this shouldnít be any different than if I asked them to draw another body part, like their hand.

The late Mary Calderone, PhD, called it a womanís "doughnut hold sensibility." That is, women tend to ignore their vulvas until itís time to have sex.

Or on the other end of the spectrum, there are women who are self-conscious because theyíre inner and outer lips arenít symmetrical. Some have considered surgery. Heck, Iím not sure there is such a thing as a symmetrical pair of lips. But I digress.

Thereís a myriad of other ideologies that stop women from having a healthy relationship with their privates. Itís negative socialization, lack of education and exposure when theyíre young, along with the stigma to admit they masturbateóin fact, most women canít even call it masturbation, they have to call it self-pleasuringóand the list goes on and on.

Itís not something that will be solved over night, but because vulva stigmas run so deep, they must be chipped away at over time.

Take heart Brian, the new breed of mom is taking a mirror into the bathtub and showing her daughter her vulva. Explaining what it is and letting her take a good look. These mom arenít calling it "wee-wee" or "peach" but rather its proper biological name. These are small steps that will make a huge impact when her daughter grows up.

Bottom line: until the average gal can have a positive relationship with her vulva, enjoying sex to the maximum will probably be out of her grasp.

Dr. Brian Parker is a sexologist and sex educator and the creator of two sexual intimacy board games "Embrace" and "Pillow Talk". The games are available on his website, www.foreverpleasure.com which features original erotic art, high-end sensual products and adult sex education.

Dr. Trina Read has a doctorate in human sexuality. Dr. Read is also an international speaker and offers free sex tips on her website www.bestsextipsever.com.

You can also hear more from Dr. Trina Read on the Hitched Podcast.

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