monthly column from
Veronica Monet

Carnal Care

The Wondrous Vulva

Inanna placed the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, on her head. She went to the sheepfold, to the shepherd. She leaned back against the apple tree. When she leaned against the apple tree, her vulva was wondrous to behold. Rejoicing at her wondrous vulva, the young woman Inanna applauded herself.

From Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hyms from Sumer compiled by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer; published by Harper and Row 1817.

My parents were strict Christians and I was raised accordingly. I read the Bible from cover to cover by age twelve and memorized selected verses on flash cards. My mother taught me a very conservative approach to sex. I was instructed to "save all my kisses for [my] husband." When taking a bath, she told me to always wash "down there" but get it over as quickly as possible lest I be guilty of a mortal sin.

I never masturbated as a child. I often prayed for forgiveness for my lustful thoughts that multiplied exponentially as I entered puberty. I could achieve a few orgasmic waves of pleasure while I did my homework just by having a "dirty" thought. My mind would occasionally wander while I was studying and instant replays of television shows would materialize in my brain. I was particularly turned on by bodice ripping television: a buxom woman tied to a tree screaming for her male savior who arrived seconds before the villain was able to have his way with her. These fantasies and the effect they had on my pulse and breath always left me feeling guilty.

I was ashamed of my anatomy although I would never have admitted it if you asked me. During my grade school years I can remember one of my male cousins drawing a picture of him taking a pee. He seemed quite proud of his penis and what it could do. I did not feel any such pride about how I peed. Nor did I feel like showing off my vagina by drawing pictures of it.

Later in life when I began to date and have sex and consequently violate every conservative concept preached to me as a youth, I still felt this strange disconnection with my vulva. I knew it was there mostly because it bled once a month and I had to stop it up for a week. Sex also brought my vulva to my attention but only as a hole to receive the penis. I had no concept of how to translate those guilty waves of pleasure during my homework into orgasms during sex.

Luckily for me two things set me on a path of sexual fulfillment. A gorgeous older man from church gave me my first full-blown orgasm in the front seat of his pickup by fingering me. I also entered college that year and signed up for Sex Education (something my parents had prevented while I was living under their roof). The college textbook said masturbation was healthy and normal and that was good enough for me. I started practicing masturbation every chance I got. The results were not always pleasant. I got greedy and tried to cum more than once. That sometimes meant I could only achieve arousal the second time and I would fall asleep mildly frustrated. Other times I would go for the really big orgasm and bypass the little ones that came my way attempting to gather them all up into one big explosion. I would overplay my hand and wind up with no orgasm, just a frustrating holding pattern in the plateau phase. I also female ejaculated but this was 1979 and The G Spot had not been published yet. That year a response to a letter to the editor in Playboy magazine told the female reader she suffered from incontinence because the bed was wet after she had sex. I thought I was wetting the bed so I practiced dry orgasms. When the G Spot did come out, I decided popular magazines had way too much influence on my private sex life. I went back to "squirting".

I became more and more sexually functional and fulfilled as I pursued my sexual education and experience. I learned to achieve vaginal orgasms as well as clitoral ones. I enjoyed sex with men and women. I tried group sex. A girlfriend bought me a vibrator for my birthday and that opened up another whole world of sensual pleasure.

But it wasn't until I became a prostitute and started taking classes in sacred prostitution that I learned to be proud of my anatomy. I learned to see my vagina in a totally new way.

The classes in sacred prostitution taught by Cosi Fabian opened up a whole new reality for me. She illustrated the "Isis Squat" which involves the woman straddling the man's penis while he lies down. Instead of kneeling in the "woman superior" position, the woman stays firmly planted on her feet and uses her thigh muscles to propel herself up and down the penis. It gives the woman exquisite control over the rhythm, speed, depth and direction of intercourse. It is easier for the woman to contract her PC muscles in this position. It also feels powerful as hell.

The "Isis Squat" helped to shift a paradigm for me. The dark and mysterious hole that could be used up and discarded like a bottle of wine by too many of the wrong men, was transformed into a powerful muscle which would only become stronger with use. When I stopped believing that sex was something that was done to me by men and started envisioning myself making sexual choices, I began to feel less anger towards men and their sexuality. I was angry with men because too many of them had tried to make me feel less worthy than them. It was as if sex were a game with only one winner and one loser. The woman that had sex for the wrong reasons, such as physical gratification instead of love, was the loser. The guy that duped a woman into having sex with him was the winner. When I realized all that nonsense was just that, I was free! I could have sex when, how and why I chose without having to feel inferior to anyone, let alone the men that had sex with me.

There was more to learn, though. As a prostitute, I was invited to appear on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Howie Mandell, John Schneider and Charo. Our topic was the legalization and/or decriminalization of prostitution and we filmed in the only state in the union where prostitution is legal: Nevada. The entire panel was for legalization or decriminalization, except John Schneider. He was my opponent and he used a combination of righteous indignation and sex appeal to disarm me. During the commercial breaks he would flirt but once the cameras began to roll he made verbal assaults. When words began to fail him, he chose to imitate the physical positions most commonly assumed by females (including his wife I presume) during sexual intercourse. While bending over with his ass in the camera or spreading his legs wide while sitting in his chair, he attempted to discredit my claims to any dignity I might have thought I had.

When I returned home, I was left with an uncomfortable awareness. Although I gave no evidence that his childishness had effected me adversely while we were taping, I had in fact felt shamed. How on earth could a public whore feel ashamed of the fact that she bends over or spreads her legs during sex? That question took me back to my cousin's proud pictures of his penis peeing. There was where and when I first became aware of the shame I felt for having been born with a vagina and having to sit to pee. I know I am not the only little girl to grow up with these feelings. It is a fairly common cultural message.

With that realization, I came full circle with my feminist politics. Experiencing myself as a whole human with a full array of rights and dignities has centered on reclaiming the power and beauty of the female genitalia. To walk through life with shame for my very physical construction and functions as a female is as debilitating as being ashamed of my skin color. It permeates all that I do in life. Today I am proud of the construction of my female body and the fact that I sit down or squat to pee. I am not ashamed of bending over or spreading my legs to enjoy sex. I have come to see my own vagina and clitoris as a wondrous vulva!

Veronica Monet spent over a decade in the sex industry as an escort, a prostitute, porn actress, and producer of porn. She has advocated for sex worker’s rights through her writings, public speaking, television appearances and daily life. Monet believes her experience in the sex industry has enriched and informed her feminist views. She is particularly interested in sharing her knowledge and experience with the public in a manner that will enrich and improve the lives of others.