#AdviceHijack! My vagina says your boyfriend is repulsive

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Well here is a problem, and here is maybe the worst imaginable response to it from Pamela Stephenson Connolly:

My boyfriend of three years has never actively looked at my vagina or shown the slightest interest in it other than the usual foreplay. He performs oral sex occasionally but always under the darkness of the duvet and has admitted he doesn’t find vaginas particularly attractive, joking that mine is especially repulsive. I feel hugely hurt and ashamed and his behaviour makes me consider him childish. He jokes that bodily fluids are disgusting and always washes after sex. I feel self-conscious and unattractive and worry that we’ll never enjoy the explorative sex life I’ve had with previous partners.

Besides biological factors, each person’s sexuality is created and influenced by early experiences: family attitudes to sex, friends, religion, along with the messages about sex received from school, the media and society. Your boyfriend’s background may have made it difficult for him to be comfortable with his sexuality, or with your genitals. And like many men, he may have picked up a misleading notion of an ideal kind of vagina (“neat”, evenly proportioned and hairless) from media images. Help him receive some sex education to adjust his sexual attitudes by inviting him to join you either watching educational DVDs or reading a well-written book that accentuates sexual and physical diversity (for example Our Sexuality by Crooks and Baur). Discuss the material as equal adults, not teacher/pupil, and reward him when he demonstrates maturity.

Lady, I don’t know your boyfriend, but I know this much: my vagina finds him repulsive, and so should yours. He sounds like a heel of the first order. And not one of those fun, romantic heels who you stick with while you wheedle him into being not-a-sociopath, because under his heeldom there’s a shining and irresistible humanity which it is your job to coax out.

No, under your boyfriend’s heel-like exterior, there’s just more heel. Layer on layer of heel to be peeled back, revealing more heel until you reach the very core of him, his true essence – which is a teeny-tiny, minuscule and crusted heel.  And the reason he isn’t the salvageable kind of heel is that salvageable heels are a made-up thing. They don’t exist.

The kind of man who tells you that he finds all vaginas – yours especially, lol! – disgusting is not the kind of man you want anywhere near your fanny. You are not going to be the possessor of the one very special vagina that can change his mind, and Jesus Christ, why would you want to be?

I’d consider it a bit out of order if a partner told me he found all chili con carnes revolting – especially mine (joke!) – then went to brush his teeth immediately after dinner. That would be a flat-out dumping offence, not for the difference in culinary opinion (hey, a man is allowed not to like chili! Or vaginas) but for the utter bastardly rudeness with which it was expressed.

If you are generous enough to give someone access to the squishiest, tenderest bits of your body, a little bit of politeness is the least you should expect. Someone who makes you feel “hurt and ashamed” is not your friend, and they’re definitely not your boyfriend.

But before you ditch him (maybe with a parting shot about how his perineum always made you nauseous? Think about it, at least), consider taking the opportunity to ask him this: why would a man who finds vaginas repulsive ever want to have sex with a woman? Women, after all, often include a vagina, so it would make sense for someone strongly vagina-averse to consider avoiding women.

The fact that he’s decided to have a relationship with you, and seems determined to make you share in his absurd disgust at your anatomy, makes me suspect that he doesn’t hate vaginas so much as he hates women. You have encountered an honest-to-goodness misogynist. Take a moment to marvel at his unpleasantness. Then kick him right out, and “reward him” by not vomiting on his nutsack.

10 thoughts on “#AdviceHijack! My vagina says your boyfriend is repulsive

  1. To me, it would seem that this bloke suffers from a low-ish level Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the sort of thing that has people washing their hand every hour or endlessly checking things. The dislike of bodily fluids is a fairly good marker. I have had a partner who’s like that – didn’t quite like the idea that you might be sticky after sex or even get sweaty. Difficult to sort out as the person won’t necessarily see it as a problem.

  2. Thank you SO much for writing this – I had a boyfriend like this once. It took me far too long to give him the boot, partly because he made me feel like no one else would want me and my “defective” lady parts.

  3. This was the RIGHT response to that letter. Here, for your entertainment was my comment on the article itself:

    Dear Ms Connolly,

    I understand that as a psychotherapist you need to give a rational, measured response to questions. But that does not preclude you from at least adding the blindingly obvious.

    A relationship with a man who not only thinks his girlfriend’s vagina is ‘repulsive’ but tells her so is probably not going to last. Nor should any woman with a modicum of self-respect contemplate spending much time with a man who has that attitude or that lack of sensitivity.

    That you’ve actively encouraged her to do so is politically correct and dumb as a bag of nails.

  4. Interesting how you’ve summed up a human being without much information about him, beyond what the girlfriend has said and beyond what you find annoying about the therapists’ advice. So you understand this man, do you? You know him inside and out based upon all this hard, factual data? You’ve decided he needs to be placed on the garbage tip for it and you’ve written an entire post explaining so? Amazing. I’m sure we should all come to you with advice about our insides when we’re feeling let down by the Guardian.

    As Bob Irving pointed out, this man may have a disorder of some kind, like OCD or low-level Autism. Maybe he’s gay. If he is still willing to perform something like oral sex, could that mean he still wants to please his partner even though he has a debilitating hang-up? What’s wrong with trying to help this guy through it? Oh, because you’ve already decided, based on all the facts you have at your disposal, that he’s a woman-hating creep.

    I know it’s easy to fly off the handle when we’re triggered by an article or an interview and feel the need to respond, that our point of view is better than anyone else’s and we better let loose or someone might walk away with the wrong idea.

    Harlan Ellison put it best: you are not welcome to your opinion. You are welcome to your INFORMED opinion. Something tells me you don’t have enough here to judge anyone, but you’ve shared quite a lot about yourself.

  5. Dear BL, Men who consider vaginas repulsive don’t deserve to be let anywhere near them. I don’t give a shit what his problem is – it shouldn’t have to be hers.

  6. @Remittance Girl – exactly. I’d be all for the letter writer giving the BF sympathetic support through his troubles, if the letter described him giving any sympathy to her. Instead, he makes her feel gross. The thing about problem page advice is that you only have what’s in the letter to go on, and what’s in the letter is a horrible relationship.

  7. Reblogged this on Hope for Survivors of Abuse and commented:
    A response to Sunday’s “My boyfriend says my vagina is repulsive” (and the advice which followed) as only Sarah Ditum could give.
    Anyone who makes you feel unattractive or ashamed is not worth your time, your emotional energy, or your psychological health. It’s abuse and no one has the right to treat you in this way.

  8. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    When I read the column, all I could think was that the root of his vagina-directed disgust and/or fear of women, their bodies, and everything else about them. Of course we can’t diagnose this from one account, but I’m not sure how else you get to thinking that all vaginas are terrible and that it’s acceptable to tell someone (someone you’re supposed to care about, no less) that theirs is repulsive. The issue here isn’t really about genitals or oral sex, it’s about respect, and the question asker’s boyfriend clearly has none for her body *or* her feelings.

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