Hana Shafi An Open Letter to Pornography*

Dear Pornography,

My vulva doesn’t look like that.

See, you’re fun to watch and all, but I feel like I’m getting the shittier end of the bargain. You’re great for all my solo fun, but if I’m actually in the bedroom with someone else, I feel like you might be fucking things up for me if my body is now being compared to an unrealistic ideal. 

There’s a different girl in every video, but somehow they all look the same. Well, maybe not facially, but... you know what I mean. 

Hairless crotches and perfectly symmetrical pink labias dominate the screen. Now there’s this thing going around called labiaplasty, and I’m just not down. In all those awkward books about “your changing body” and teaching your kid about puberty, they all said that getting pubes was part of growing up. But Pornography, you seem to disagree.

So I’m supposed to grow it and then get rid of it entirely? Magazines and billboards with super models made me question whether my thighs were too big, whether my stomach was too flabby, and whether I needed highlights or longer lashes. But I never thought I’d be worrying over whether my vulva was sub-par. Thanks a lot Pornography, look what you did. 

And I swear, it’s not just me. Because suddenly, I’m hearing the women around me question the same thing. They’re thinking, “do I look normal, y’know, down there?” Fuck yeah you do! Don’t be worried just because you don’t have the same vulva as Kimberly Kane. It doesn’t make you any less “normal.”

Pornography, this is just one of my many grievances with you. As a self-described sex-positive feminist, I do understand that your enterprise is important to those who make their living off of it. But your industry has a strong tendency to put women in degrading situations, your female actresses deserve much better treatment, and you need to remember when you’re crossing the line between filming some hot rough sex or some tantalizing BDSM fun and just sexualizing violence (yes, there’s a difference).

But I’ll be fair here, I’d still like to continue our relationship. Just don’t ever have me question the adequacy of my vulva ever again.

Yours respectfully,
Hana Shafi 

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