I must admit that when I first read last week’s reports in the media that ‘designer vagina’ surgery in the UK had increased five-fold over the last decade, I thought someone was joking. However, the figures are irrefutable – the NHS carried out over 2000 of these specialist operations in 2010, according to its records.
In addition, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (‘RCOG’) and the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology have warned that this may just be the ‘tip of the iceberg’, because private clinic have no obligation to record or report data.
Apparently the most common form of female cosmetic surgery is labiaplasty, in which the size of the patients’ labia minora is reduced.
Dame Suzi Leather, chairman of RCOG’s ethics committee, has suggested the surge in these types of procedures was partly fuelled by inaccurate advertising and the mass media, adding that “Some women are requesting it solely for cosmetic reasons and these decisions are not always being made on an informed understanding of the normal variations that exist, but influenced by images from popular culture and the pornography industry”.
There may be something in this theory. In my Daily Mail this week, there was a report on the findings of an Anne Summers survey into female relationships with porn in which 9% of women consulted admitted they watched porn on their own on a daily basis, 40% claimed they did so weekly and 55% owned up to at least once a month. Another 40% admitted that they’d made their own porn, albeit that the majority (76%) said that they preferred ‘soft porn’ to the hard-core variety.
Well, well, well. Disregarding the squeamish side of the subject, let’s get to the heart of the subject – if that’s not an inappropriate term when we’re talking about ‘down there’.
One thing that concerns me, from the feminist point of view, is that – as far as the media is concerned – women seem to give the impression that, if we’re not all over the place on any given subject you might care to name, there are very nearly as many different opinions as there are females.
On the one hand, it seems, women are simply demanding equality – in terms of salary, opportunity, protection from gender discrimination – plus the right to be respected by men and not treated as sex objects.
On the other, we (or rather those we know) delight in watching horrendous trash reality television shows like TOWIE and then devour Norwegian forests’ worth of gaudy weekly gossip magazines, in which hundreds of girls, seemingly famous only for being famous, build lucrative careers out of seedy ‘tell all’ sex-and-drugs stories, pouting bikini shots and staged appearances on red carpets, outside night clubs and on holiday in Caribbean resorts.
Virtually in the same breath, we’re suitably horrified by the prospect of our daughters’ favoured role models also getting their kits off in music videos or lads’ mag spreads and generally behaving like sluts. [Except, presumably, when these stars want to – because, of course, as modern women we all have the right to celebrate our sexuality if we so wish].
As ‘senior feminists’, if that is a description that holds water for those of us who have spent decades climbing our chosen respectable professions to achieve financial security, the modern cult of celebrity undermines everything about the image and position of women in society that we have been fighting to establish.
The trouble is – if you were to stop a sizeable sample of young womanhood today in the street – I’d wager that a depressingly large percentage would admit aspiring to become WAGS, glamour models, or somehow just finding a route to earn pots of money without having to graft for it in the traditional sense.
That brings me back to ‘designer vaginas’. We are all different and we should be celebrating that fact, not stealthily nipping off to Harley Street to have our doo-dahs re-arranged in line with the kind of thing that some pneumatic porn star was displaying in the dreadful video that hubby Patrick bought back from the pub one day last week.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for live and let live.
Nor am I opposed in principle to Botox, or a bit of a ‘snip, nip and tuck’ here and there, just to keep the ravages of time at bay.
It would be a bit hypocritical of me to be otherwise, given the raft of cosmetic enhancements I’ve subjected myself over the past decade and the full-on labiaplasty that Patrick has offered to pay for as one of my Christmas presents this year!