July being self care month, I thought I’d share an experience I had while driving past a construction site one early evening in March this year.
It was bitingly cold, and a sharp wind chased snow flurries over the yard. Two men were handing pieces of cold steel piping to each other, their breath clouding the air. Suddenly, one of them lost his grip and the pipe clanged out of his hand and struck his ankle. Immediately, a rush of expletives gushed out of him. A mix of the predictable everyday expletives interspersed with a synonym for female genitalia. While certainly not new words to me, on that night they struck my ear as forcefully as the steel had his ankle.
I encounter these genitalia and their supporting tissues every day. The signs of incontinence, the sensation of pelvic heaviness or the pain of difficult intercourse. Those deviations are fairly easy to quantify and describe. Often, however, there is a degree of disconnectedness, an intentional or unintentional disengagement with the areas of our bodies that are often shrouded in shame and guilt. A disembodied way of describing them and their actions. Our sexual organs and defecatory organs: vaginas, penises, rectum and anuses do not seem to be aspects of life we want to spend much time honouring or engaging with. We’d much sooner refer to them in disgust, shame, in anger, in frustration and fear. We wield these words to convey how we feel. Are we thereby conveying, simultaneously and subliminally, how we feel about the areas and functions they are describing? Do we feel disgust, shame, anger, frustration and fear when we describe any perceived deviation of the expected ‘norm’ in sexual encounters, in passing stool or urine?
A different spoken word environment may allow us to be more engaged and feel warmer towards these amazing, intricate life sustaining organs.A haven of warmth and the gateway to our fertility and life-giving womb.That cold, barren, uninviting and uninformed construction site was and is as different to the vagina and uterus as can be.
As we celebrate self-care month I’d like you to pause and consider how amazing each and every part of your body is – even if our words don’t always affirm this.
Gerda Hayden is a pelvic health physiotherapist at The WOMB Burlington and takes pride in delivering holistic care. Gerda utilises manual therapy, electrotherapy and dry needling amongst other techniques and has a special interest in postnatal clients and all Women’s Health conditions. Gerda has been a physiotherapist for 12 years in South Africa, England and now Canada! She is a mother to young boys and has taught Pilates for the last eight years as well