Then Jacob said to Laban,
“Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.” —Genesis 30:21
One is you can’t buy a cheeseburger from MacDonald’s without a
big thumbprint smashed into the bun. The other is most men
cannot say the word “vagina” without smirking. While “penis” is
kind of a utilitarian word, most of us—men and women, black and
white—struggle when forced to reference a woman’s most private
area in mixed company. Among single-gender situations, men tend
to resort to vulgar or sophomoric colloquialisms. I have no idea
what women call it in their single-gender groups. As a child, I
had no idea what girls called this body part. I had a sister, so
from my earliest perception I was certainly aware girls were
different, disfigured, I thought, at some early point feeling
bad for these people who had, so far as I could tell, no way to
pee. Children have free and easy access to one another’s
miscellaneous body parts. Once modesty kicks in, around age four
or so, we learn or are taught to cover up with fig leaves.
Suddenly, that to which we once had free and unfettered access
becomes a source of mystery if not obsession. From birth to
kindergarten we saw vaginas all the time. Now we spend the rest
of our lives trying to see them again. Psychologists and
philosophers have speculated man’s obsession with woman is
largely responsible for most of the world’s dysfunction.
Freudian theory places most of the world’s dysfunction squarely
in the sexual realm, the great triumphs and great atrocities of
men correlating to either the vagina he emerged from or the
vagina he’s desperately trying to enter into.
This dates back to the Garden of Eden. The bible seems all but obsessed with a woman’s vagina, essentially forbidding men to access it. Jews could defile themselves simply by touching a woman, anywhere on her body, while she was menstruating. Thus, this body part we are most obsessed with become repulsive and disgusting every 28 days. Islamic tradition has women covered from head to toe, auspiciously to prevent tempting men or invoking their lust. This amuses me a bit, considering a woman’s most potent weapon is not, as we might think, her vagina, but her eyes. There is great power in the eyes of a woman. The vagina is kind of the nuclear option. A woman will allure with her eyes, tease with her smile, her hair, lure with her breasts. The vagina, however, is not in the pregame show. It is, oddly enough, not really all that sexy or even alluring in and of itself. Which is why pornography is so gross. Porn distorts human nature by serving up human relationships as dehumanizing and degrading acts. The man’s prize, the woman’s ultimate secret, served up randomly and out of proportion to human experience. Boys growing up in this unfettered Internet age, their idiot parents (yes, you) allowing them easy access to porn are ruining them, and America if not the world with them. Porn desensitizes boys to the value and humanity of women. They grow up with a wholly distorted view of human relationships, reducing them to the status of a video game.
A compelling stream of anthropological thought is that most everything men do relates back, in one way or another, to women. Or, more bluntly, to the vagina. In personal terms: for most men, the struggle is about access to a woman’s vagina. A husband has access, prefers no one else ever had access before him. Women and girls are taught to be chaste or, failing that, to be a mystery, to be vague about how many sexual partners they’ve had and in what context. Other sexual partners, even in the distant past, are a threat to the male ego. Most dads jealously guard their daughter’s virtue. They are, in fact, guarding their vagina. Both his wife’s and his child’s vagina are his personal property. So is his mistress’s vagina, my philanderer friends have become enraged upon discovering their mistress with someone else.
This is the mystery of the universe, why women are seen as exotic and mysterious. They are, in fact, neither. A man can deploy his penis on dozens of fronts without society thinking any less of him. Women must at least appear virginal. Why? To make us feel better about ourselves. A virginal woman, or at least one pretending to be, is much more appealing to us. Because our main concern is not her heart, it is her vagina and how many miles she’s logged on it.
Example A is the story of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob, the son of Isaac (whom Abraham nearly sacrificed to God as a child), swindled his brother Esau into giving Jacob, the younger brother, his birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew. More on that here. In Genesis Chapter 30, Jacob experiences a little payback as his Uncle, a farmer named Laban, swindles him, convincing Jacob to work for him for seven years in exchange for his daughter Rachel, but switching daughters on Jacob’s wedding night. If you’ve never read that story, check out Genesis 29-30.