Begs the Question


I take pictures of flowers. I can’t help myself. Something in me is completely drawn to a flower in the midst of opening to life, it’s soft petals so vulnerable in a what can be a harsh world.

I have this gorgeous orchid in my home. It was a gift and is now in bloom again. As I walked past it the other day, the sun was shining through its translucent petals. The luminosity drew me to it like a moth to flame. In much the same way, when I get too close to such beauty, something in me dies to this beauty.

I posted another shot of this luminous flower online and received a number of comments.

Absolutely gorgeous.


Oh my goodness. Made my heart jump.

Very vaginal in the best way ever.

It was clear that this orchid looks like a woman’s sexual anatomy – vagina, vulva, clitoris, etc.

It seems as though we respond to this flower as something breathtakingly beautiful.

And this begs the question,

Why don’t we feel this way about our own beautiful, sexual female bodies?


This post is part one of a three-part series. I’d love to know how you feel…

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7 Replies to “Begs the Question”

  1. So many phrases bubble to the surface as I read this. I am at once reminded of the time I spent in the dressing room at a department store with my precious developmentally-delayed sister-in-law who was then grossly overweight, mostly a dreaded side effect of a medication she was taking regularly. As we peeled off her clothes and prepared to try on the new ones, she looked squarely at her naked body in the full length mirror (the mirror I avoid even when fully clothed) and said, “I’m so pretty.”

    And at the same time I remember the women who served as leaders for our teenage church group. “Why isn’t dancing allowed?” I once asked. “It just feels so natural, I almost can’t help myself.” Their reply was that when women dance, when women move their bodies “in such a way,” it gives men the wrong idea and too often brings on “unwanted actions” from the males. To which I asked, “So we’re supposed to hold our bodies still to protect men from themselves?” Their answer? “Time to go, girls.”

    Yes, Sugar, this is a question that begs to be asked, and I so look forward to the day when we hear this question and laugh to think there ever was such a time when we didn’t dance in the loveliness of our own sexual, female bodies.

    1. Ah, Jeanne. Your storytelling weaves its magic, again. “It just feels so natural” because it is. Dancing is joy, is heartbreak, is all of it. Love.

  2. How many times have you been able to look at and admire, in real life, the beautiful picture of a woman’s anatomy? As a woman who has always identified herself as having a straight sexual preference, I cannot recall ever having seen that part of another grown woman’s body. If I were a straight man or a lesbian, I can guess it would be fairly safe to say that I’d probably only have seen and admired the body of my lovers, however many of them I’d had. I have, of course, seen and marveled at the bodies of my children as I tended them as babies. But as they grew, they became more responsible for themselves, and I have not even seen my near-teenaged daughter nude anytime in the near past. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I’ve actually even looked at myself for some other reason than some sort of cosmetic or medical maintenance. For that matter, excepting the realm of pornography, I’ve never really seen photographs or art directly of the inward female anatomy publicly displayed. Only oblique references by the way of abstraction or the beautiful representations in nature that suggest the images – as this gorgeous picture does. But I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen a male body represented in a way that expects admiration, both in real life and in art. If I expressed a desire to see and admire these parts of the female form in that same way, the culture I live in would think me at the very least odd and at the worst worthy of condemnation of the eternal sort.

    The most readily available images we have of this part of the female anatomy come from the degradation of pornography. The language we use to talk about the female body doesn’t speak of admiration and beauty. In fact, we can’t even use the proper biological terms – vagina, vulva, clitoris – without expecting a collective gasp A gasp I will readily admit I had initially as I read this post. Instead we have cunts and pussies and bushes, a piece of meat or a piece of ass. And we don’t speak of tender love and caring and admiration, but instead brutality: nailing, pounding, screwing, dogging, fucking – just for starters. The closest we get to acceptable eroticism around and admiration of the female form comes from nature like Neruda’s poem that says “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees”. And even that often causes us to gasp and blush and sometimes even turn away.

    Our beautiful, sexual female bodies and everything they represent have been hidden away, degraded, shamed, raped and pillaged. And if we (I) dare express any outrage or propose any other way of seeing ourselves (myself) or other women, then there is often a significant price to pay. So we (I) stay silent, or we (I) collude and participate in the abuse of other women and their beautiful bodies. We (I) compare ourselves (myself) to modified and sanitized versions of perfection instead of glorying in the diversity and beauty of our (my) own nature. We (I) run away from healthy and beautiful expressions of feminine sexuality. We (I) teach our (my) daughters to be embarrassed and ashamed.

    What would it take to change the way we view our own bodies, and the bodies of other women? Maybe some time spent really looking. Maybe some new language around the tending and care of our femininity. Maybe a revolution that moves us from the patriarchal hierarchy of power into a more balanced world that values both masculine and feminine in all their strength and tends both in their vulnerabilities. Those changes seem large and impossible. Maybe it starts with looking in the mirror and loving myself, and in turn looking at your beauty and not turning away. Maybe.

    1. Dear Renae,
      I have so little to say, other than thank you. Thank you for sharing so deeply and wisely. Your experience, and your reflection of it here, is so beautifully expressed, even in the pain of it. Love to you, Julie

  3. Wow, Renae, you’ve really stated a lot of truth in this post. Really made me stop and think, and agree with all you said.

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