Vagception

Hello my darlings,

I’ve known for some time I would have to write this post, but it’s not something I’ve been chomping at the bit to do.

The other day, I posted something that was a way to help me process the horror in Orlando, and I was almost instantly called out for my “allyship.” And it was put in quotation marks just like that.

Aside from the fact I didn’t think it was a particularly approriate time to try and pick fights with people who were trying to sort through a fuckton of grief, the lady was super not hip to facts.

See, what happened was this woman had seen a Tweet, and jumped to eleven thousand conclusions based on that single Tweet.

To her, I wasn’t a part of the QUILTBAG+ community, so I had no right to be commenting on anything.

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Except I was very clear in an accompanying Tweet, in the same thread, even, that I am, in fact, queer. This isn’t a secret, and hasn’t ever been.

I even reached out to apologize to the woman who went high holy roller on my Tweet, accusing me of fetishizing the QUILTBAG+ community, hoping she would see that there was a lot more accompanying the single Tweet she’d called out, if she’d kept reading.

But she didn’t reply. She kept Tweeting about the bullshit “allyship” but never acknowledged the apology I’m not entirely sure I was due to give, but I saw her point through the eyes of the isolated Tweet and wanted to make amends.

My reality did not match her narrative. She had a point to make, and no amount of pesky facts was going to alter that.

I see this a lot on social media. A LOT.

Over the last two years, it’s become the new hip thing to pounce on literally anything anyone says ever with the sole purpose of being the expert in something to get all the reTweets and fist-pumps of being more outraged than everyone else, and being the person to call all the eyes to the thing over which they should also be outraged.

It’s a bloodsport at this point.

I am 100% here for people calling out problematic things in the world. So very here for it. I hope to hell if I’m ever doing something not okay, someone will call me on it in a way I can learn from my mistakes and damn well never make them again.

And I will make mistakes. I’m not even in the same hemisphere as perfect.

But it’s not about that anymore. It’s about being seen as RIGHT, facts and people who get stomped on in process be damned.

So, that’s where this post is coming from.

I didn’t want to write this post.

When I wrote my last book, I was very open in advance that I suffered from OCD and was more than willing to be as open as possible about it because I wanted to educate and help however I could. I was comfortable with that transparency.

This book, the one that sold, the Vagina Book, well, I didn’t want to do that. Being exposed and vulnerable about my OCD is a lot less scary than telling the world the details of my vagina.

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The story is about a woman dealing with a disorder, vaginismus, and I really wanted that to stand on its own.

But, alas, I don’t appear to have that option.

Because what I see happening on social media, and not just my silly little Tweet this weekend, is this: Someone does a thing. Someone calls out this thing. Outrage over the thing reaches a fever pitch. The person who did the thing opens up and explains the outrage is actually not based in fact, and they are forced to open wounds and expose themselves in their defense.

Pitchfork-waving crowd gives no fucks.

No one wants to Tweet out, “Oh, hey, I was wrong. Can we all apologize to the person I just made open up about sexual abuse/religion/divorce/etc.?”

And let’s face it, no one gives a flying fuck in space about a boring old fact. They want the furor. They want the fire. It’s more fun to RT and rally troops around injustice than it is to accept everyone got hella carried away and did a big, bad, wrong thing.

When my book went out, someone in publishing got MAD. And I mean, supes mad. They were offended I had written a book about the subject matter, of which they were familiar, and the book was “funny.”

This was before I was willing to come right out and say, “OH HEY I WROTE THIS BOOK BECAUSE I SUFFERED THIS BROKEN VAGINA DISORDER AND I WANTED TO WRITE SOMETHING I WOULD HAVE WANTED TO READ ABOUT IT.”

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I can safely guarantee the reaction would have been 100% different.

To that person, I was an outsider cracking dick jokes in a story about something I had no business cracking jokes around. I was not entitled to see anything around the scenario as funny.

Because I hadn’t led with my vagina.

A desperate call to my agents was made. LET ME TELL YOU HOW FUN THAT WAS.

“Excuse me, two dude agents, but I need to go into great detail about my own vagina so other people don’t get upset about me discussing vaginas in my book.”

I was really, REALLY mad. Super mad. And humiliated. And exposed. And I felt horrible because it hadn’t been my choice to share this part of myself, it had been pulled out of me as a precaution to keep from getting another crazy angry letter. (Seriously, that person hates me more than I can fathom.)

And see, it’s not like I could email her and say, oh, by the by, broken vagina club high-five. No one cares after the fact.

No one cares.

When the book was announced, within an hour or two, a woman popped up to correct us on what the disorder actually meant. Because obvs we didn’t know.

I didn’t put my best vagina forward.

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And I see the people on Twitter who are championing #OwnVoices stories and it makes me SO HAPPY. I love everything about #OwnVoices.

Except the people who demand to know, in advance, that any book written about a thing HAS to be an #OwnVoices or they are ready to be burn folks at the stake. And they have to have proof. Lots of proof.

I suppose I could have told the woman who questioned my queerdom about my sexual history and positions used and listed every single time I was beaten up in school or locked in a locker or that time a guy pledged to rape me so I could see what I was missing because I was a lesbian in high school. (So the rumors stated.)

I shouldn’t have to defend my experience. It’s mine, my very own, and I should be allowed to talk about it at a pace which is comfortable to me, not catering to vitriolic masses.

No one should be put in a position to have to show graphs and charts and peer reviewed studies to validate their lives to a mob on social media. But to refuse to do that allows said mob to completely erase who a person is with 140 characters of venom and misinformation.

I don’t stop being queer because some random person Tweets as such. But to all the people who don’t know me outside what that spiel of rage saw, I am *only* what she claimed. My reality was erased by her misguided witch hunt to anyone who read her words and ignored mine.

And I straight up re-fucking-fuse to let someone step in and try to do that with the topic of my own goddamn vagina.

Some people are definitely in the #OwnVoices club but aren’t out about the topic they are writing about. Some people are brave in very different ways. Some people are committing an act of absolute badassery just by writing the story in the first place.

Not all of us have it in us to be balls out to the world about every facet of our personal lives.

For me, I will talk about just about anything, but my broken vagina wasn’t on that list.

Hashtag OwnVagina.

It is now. Not because I wanted it to be, not because I was comfortable with it, but truly, because I do not have the mental strength to hold back the social media mobs should there be a dull day on Twitter, and someone decides to come at me for writing about vaginas when I HAVE NO GODDAMN RIGHT.

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I owe them NOTHING. But I do get to take that ember of power away from them. They don’t get to swing blindly at me out of nowhere and dissipate my existence to fit their ranting storyline. This is my tale, and I’ll be good goddamned if I let anyone sully it with malintent.

So, let me be quite clear: I was diagnosed with vaginismus after the birth of our son. I was traumatized by it. A history of sexual abuse did not make the act of amazingly painful sex with my husband a fun topic for me, nor did the eventual complete inability to have sex.

There were doctors and therapists and physical therapists and all manner of surreal, vagina-centric tactics invoked.

And then I learned a woman I knew in real life had dealt with it as well and was equally traumatized.

That inspired me to look up statistics. And when I saw how ridiculously common this disorder, and others like it, is, I decided to write the book I wish had been around for me to read when I had been going through it all.

From this point on, I will gladly, and I do mean GLADLY, discuss this disorder and my experiences with it to anyone who asks. I’ve spent a lot of time prepping myself for this, and I am extremely willing and ready and my heart is in it.

I personally believe there needs to be a thousand times more conversation around disorders like this and women’s sexuality in general, and I am very glad to put my experiences out on display for anyone it might help or educate.

But, let the record always show, this wasn’t my original choice. I felt pushed into this because I knew if a storm ever came, no one would care in the slightest what the facts surrounding my vagina were.

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And if I can ask a favor, in the future, if people would maybe take a breath, or dig for information, or maybe even just give people the benefit of the doubt before throwing the flaming bags of poo, I can honestly say it could potentially save people from having to reveal painful, and vulnerable sides of themselves they weren’t prepared to divulge.

No one knows the lives of others. Not for one second. Even with people like me who are generally open books, sometimes we have hard limits, folks.

I will always understand the desire to have all the information, and I get that a trash fire is a lot more fun than boring old reality, but be very aware, this kind of behavior can and does hurt people.

And I’m pretty sure that’s the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do.

I hope you all are magical and well, my loves.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and #OwnVagina

17 Comments

  1. YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP.

    (Also, as someone else who’s got it, *high fucking five* and I cannot wait for your damn book like you don’t even know.)

  2. Writers write about topics all the time they don’t personally experience. That’s what writers do. WE MAKE UP STUFF. That mindset means if we don’t experience “it”, whatever “it” is, we can’t write about it. This whole “I’m right and you’re stupid” mentality on social media baffles me. We all have opinions but don’t be bashing someone because you don’t agree with whatever they say.

    I’m sorry you had to “out” your vagina in this way and in a way you didn’t feel comfortable. But I’m glad you wrote the book.

    Keep writing and being your awesome self!

  3. Michelle Richter |

    Damn, I am sorry you were forced into revealing such uber-personal stuff like this. I mean, when I read it, I didn’t ask if you had the condition BECAUSE IT WAS NONE OF MY FUCKING BUSINESS. But why can’t people realize that not everyone experiences life in the same way, whether it’s sexuality, identity, a medical condition, or whatever. I mean, really.

  4. Social media’s turning into a vitriolic witch-hunt and it seems like there’s no going back. Sorry this happened to you. *hugs*

  5. “… if people would maybe take a breath, or dig for information, or maybe even just give people the benefit of the doubt before throwing the flaming bags of poo.”

    YESSSS.

    Thank you for writing this. I love the online writing community, but I see the flaming bags of poo being thrown around A LOT and as someone who keeps a lot of things private (and therefore expects others to do the same) it’s like watching a train wreck. No one should have to expose the private aspects of their life to prove themselves strangers. No one. Period.

    And how many stories are we *not* hearing because people don’t want to be exposed to the gauntlet of internet trolls? Which would be 100% understandable. The last thing you want when sharing a story of your heart is to have to PROVE your worthiness. To prove your suffering, or your aloneness.

    If we force people to be “out” about their deepest darkest fears, insecurities, or private lives, then we risk LOSING those stories. Not everyone can handle, or would choose to handle, being public with those aspects of themselves. They might think, “if I write about this, others will find out about me, so I’m just … not going to.” And losing those stories — the stories that bring people together, that make the lonely feel less alone, that make the misunderstood feel understood — that would be tragic.

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry for what you went through. I’ll be looking for your book. <3 <3 <3

  6. Quietly Queer Author |

    Thank you so much for this. I cried reading your post. I’m a queer-but-selectively-out author who’s written about a queer-but-selectively-out character, and I’ve been a mess of anxiety lately, thinking about the book’s upcoming release and how I feel like I’m going to have to be all the way out to discuss the book online and on panels and such. And I just… don’t really want to discuss it in the context of my life? Your post is helping me feel okay about taking that path.

    I love a good autobiographical or semi-autobiographical novel. But I feel the focus online lately has shifted from “write from your heart” to “show us your diary.” I write mostly contemp, but I don’t feel like turning myself inside out for people — and it’s not even so much the reading public, but moreso the writers on Twitter who would demand to see my credentials for daring to write about my subject matter. (Honestly, I’d be far more likely to want to discuss it with, say, a roomful of readers than a Twitter timeline full of drama-thirsty writers.)

    I’m glad you wrote this, and I’m glad you wrote your book. I can’t wait to read it.

  7. I’m sorry you had to expose your vagina to us to set things straight in the mind of a few. You are unique and valuable and the publishing world is lucky to have you so willing to slice open a vein and bleed on the pages. Really looking forward to your book and appreciate your willingness to share even if it was none of our business to begin with.

  8. A wild thing I have noticed about people who are actually experts about something: they also know how much they ~don’t~ know about the topic, and can be rather humble about the knowledge they do have. I wish the attack squads had enough security or validation in their lives that they didn’t need to pump up their view of the universe and challenge anyone else’s story.

  9. “Some people are brave in very different ways. Some people are committing an act of absolute badassery just by writing the story in the first place.
    Not all of us have it in us to be balls out to the world about every facet of our personal lives.”
    Word.

  10. Hannah Moskowitz |

    girl I am in your club in more ways than one. can’t wait to read.

  11. I adore that you wrote this because I see the attacks all the time. Sometimes from writers who have quite the forum on Twitter. Spreading hate is never the answer to anything–I don’t care the reason the person has.

    I am so very sorry that this woman pointed her proverbial cannon at you. Thank you for writing about a subject that has very little exposure in our world.

  12. As someone who knows nothing at all about the specific topic, but has seen way, way too much of the jump-on-someone-for-the-sake-of-furor, I am sorry you had to write this and discuss what should be your own damn business and nobody else’s. I know it is easy to rile up others, and easy to get riled up, and posts like this help to remind us: there is a real, live person on the other end of the shitstorm you are stirring up. Even if a single tweet looks offensive or strikes you the wrong way, it is worth approaching it with caution rather than jumping to conclusions both feet and flamethrower forward.

  13. Just ignore those posers! You’re awesome!

  14. I sorry you had to google ‘vagina gifs’.

    Also, what they said.

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