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January 6, 2000
A woman who called herself "Jagger Lips" recently wrote in concerning the length of her labia. Of all the possible replies, I was horrified to read the thoughtless, glib response you chose to give. If a man wrote in that he suspected his penis was longer than most based on the comments of a few "freaked out" lovers, would your advice to him be to "chop some off!"? Surgery as a way of resolving a perceived physical abnormality is the usual response to queries concerning the female body. Your reply to this issue is typical of a mentality that encourages weight loss, liposuction, breast implants, and any number of invasive body modifications that are supposed to turn a healthy, beautiful woman into the starved and padded image of "perfection."
Your answer to this query might've been that Jagger Lips toss her unappreciative lovers out of bed and find herself a boyfriend who sees the beauty of her as she exists. And if you really felt that the only possible answer you could provide was surgery, you might have actually researched the subject instead of drumming up business for "Dr. Stubbs." Offering only the opinion of a plastic surgeon who makes his living on the insecurities of his patients was irresponsible. For a balanced story about female genital modification, read "Vulva Goldmine: How Cosmetic Surgeons Snatch Your Money," by Julia Scheeres, in issue no. 11 of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. The very same doctor you quoted is mentioned in the article, promoting his "Toronto Trim." Shame on you, Dan.
Okay, perhaps it was remiss of me to allow a cosmetic surgeon to identify JL's hang-low, dangle-to-and-fro labia as the problem, rather than her attitude toward them. Perhaps I could've given Jagger Lips some suggestions in addition to surgery. Perhaps I could've mentioned, even if only in passing, that JL save her money, learn to love her lips, and find a boyfriend who loves his girl's labia lips long and swingy. Mea culpa.
In penance, I picked up a copy of Bitch, and read Julia Scheeres' story. While Scheeres' makes the anti-labiaplasty case pretty effectively, her piece really can't be called balanced. "[These] procedures are based on misogynist notions of female genitalia as ugly, dirty and shameful," Scheeres writes, "and postsurgical results can be horrific, involving loss of sensation, chronic pain, and infection." Scheeres quotes a few docs who lop off labia (one's a woman, by the way), does her best to make 'em look like assholes, and then gives two horror stories. Of the two women she spoke with, one had her surgery almost 30 years ago; the other had surgery performed by a doctor who had never done a labiaplasty before. She didn't speak to any women who were happy with their results, or any women who'd been to any of the docs she interviewed. That's not balanced.
But Scheeres is absolutely right when she points out that there's no such thing as normal, questions the vulva beauty standard and who sets it, and slams the aggressive marketing of cosmetic surgery. You can read Scheeres' story in Bitch, available at better bookstores everywhere (I got my copy of Bitch at Pistil Books on Pike), or online at www.bitchmagazine.com.
This e-mail is in regard to the "Jagger Lips" letter you answered. I would point out to Jagger Lips that many men, myself included, don't find a thing wrong with a longer labia minora. My girlfriend has one, and I find it quite the enjoyable thing to suck upon. Maybe it's just me.
No, GWB, it's not just you. Tens of thousands of men and women wrote in to defend long and swingy labia. Here's a sampling.
I love a nice, large pair of pussy lips to play with when I'm going down on a woman, as opposed to the cookie-cutter beaver shots of men's magazines. Jagger Lips will find that quite a few guys will, if nothing else, be curious -- if not turned on -- by her dangling lips. I'm getting turned on just thinking about them!
Love Those Lips
I am writing to Jagger Lips to discourage her from chopping off her labia minora. I prefer long labia. I find that they lend themselves more readily to being tugged, stretched, nibbled, etc. I've never seen the subject of optimal labia length debated anywhere, so I can't really say for sure, but my sexual tastes in all other respects are so mainstream that I would find it hard to believe that my preference in this one regard is all that unusual.
Loves Long Lips