Connecting with one's body is not a learned skill as we are all born connected.
Disconnection from the body often occurs at an early age, when a child is asked to finish their plate even if they already feel full, for example.
Caretakers would give strange nicknames to refer to the child's genitals, such as Soso, Pipi, or down there, all while their eyes are called "eyes" and their fingers "fingers."
Shame can also take a big portion of the conversation if this child was born a female, her spontaneous laugh would become shameful the older she gets, her body dancing in expression joy becomes shameful, her menstrual talks would become shameful, and her knowledge of her reproductive system, its external appearance, how it works, or anything that relates to her pleasure would become shameful, especially if she is not married.
Causes of Disconnection
- Language used
In the common language, we often find the female body parts used as an insult to someone's honor or a sign of their weakness. On the other hand, we find that the parts of the male reproductive system are only expressed in the context of demonstrating masculinity or strength.
“The way in which any given culture treats the vagina- whether with respect or disrespect, caringly or disparagingly- is a metaphor of how women in general in that place and time are treated” - Naomi Wolf, The Vagina - New Biography.
- Lack of sex education from the early years of childhood:
There is a huge gap in the delivery of sexual education by caretakers and educators, as well as the lack of gradual exposure to information based on the children's developmental age. Sex education is one of the foundations for all the physical, emotional, social, and sexual safety of children and adults alike.
* The ignorance of children about their genitals and their functions, takes away the humanization of these parts and decreases the child's self-confidence, and their ability to protect their body.
* The teenage girl's ignorance of her body and the changes that occur in puberty might cause the girl to reject her body and be confused about how to deal with being a female.
* Women's ignorance of the nature of sexual relationships, their reproductive system, and their pleasure is the most important reason for the prevalence of vaginismus among women in the Arab world, and a large number of unconsummated marriages.
Starting to sex educate our children with the correct mechanisms and gradual progression appropriate to their age is not "opening their eyes", but rather protecting them and providing them with their most basic rights.
- Media and "feminine hygiene" products
It is not strange for our girls to grow up believing that their bodies are not enough as they are, not thin as they should, not clean in the eyes of everyone, that they need daily pads, perfumed vaginal washes, and douches to wash any type of bodily secretions away from their sight.
The media's prolific advertisement of these harmful products increases the confusion between normal healthy cervical fluids and what is an infection that must be treated by healthcare providers. I cannot count the times that women have shared their experiences with me, visiting the doctor's office, cycle after cycle, thinking that they have an infection, and in fact, the secretions produced were normal cervical fluids in their ovulatory phase.
The vagina is self-cleaning, and it does not need any intervention by chemicals or fragrances that can mess with its pH-balanced environment. On the other hand, these substances and perfumes may cause allergic reactions, immunity issues, and potential infections! The vulva only needs warm water between the folds of the labia, nothing else.
4 practices to start the journey of liberation and reconnecting
- Acknowledging the Reality of This Disconnection and Getting to the Root Cause
Acknowledging the reality of this disconnection is the key to starting the journey of liberation and reconnecting. As we acknowledge this disconnection, different feelings may float to the surface: doubt, anger, confusion, fear, enthusiasm, joy ... Let us remember that all these feelings are real, acceptable, and temporary. Resorting to specialists in the field of healing may help us get to the root cause. Also, having a supportive women's circle around us at this time will facilitate the passage of these emotions and reduce our feelings of loneliness. Our story is one, my friends!
- Exploring the body
Never has something set me free and reconnected me with my body like body literacy - by beginning to explore my body, its genitals, and the amazing way it works cycle after cycle.
How strange it is for someone to be ignorant of the shape of their eyes or eyebrows, it is only logical that this strangeness will follow if they're not aware of their reproductive system.
Exploring our bodies by looking directly in a mirror and studying its internal and external structure, its genitals, curves, folds, the contrast of its colors, and its lengths, all increase our connection to it and reconnecting us with its essence. Find a mirror now and start your journey!
Sustainable menstrual products
Most of the women who have used commercial single-use menstrual pads would be familiar with that unpleasant smell emanating from the pad, which forces them to change it at every possible opportunity, even if not fully used. Some people may think that this is the natural smell of menstruation, and that menstrual blood is, therefore, not clean. This makes the experience of menstruation an unpleasant experience for many women.
But a surprise may happen between a day and a night, or rather between one menstruation and the other. In a survey we posted a while ago on our social media platforms, 97% of women acknowledged that this odor disappeared once they switch to using sustainable natural menstrual products. This unpleasant odor is caused by the reaction of the blood with the chemicals that make the pads, and the oxidation of the blood after being exposed to oxygen outside the body.
Seeing menstrual blood, its color, amount, and consistency are all indications of our cyclic and hormonal health, and thus our connection with the language of this body.
- Women who are reconciled with their bodies
Throughout the ages and around the world, women have gathered in women's circles to share their experiences, listen to one another, and pass on feminine wisdom from one generation to another. As we embark on the journey of liberation and reconnection, it will be helpful to surround ourselves with women who have gone through that experience and live in reconciliation with their bodies. The practices that some women take to express their reconciliation may not suit your convictions, but having this example in your surroundings permits you to reconcile, as you see fit. It is not necessary for you to make a painting with your menstrual blood, or to post pictures of your stretch marks and wrinkles to reconnect with your body. Choose what suits you and open your heart as there are many options for expressing this.