Health Care The Vulvasation Love + Sex Love

Things that everyone with a vag should definitely know

Vulvasations is a Tempest Love exclusive series dedicated to spreading awareness about the female reproductive system, debunking myths about periods and dissecting everything vajayjay related. Let’s talk about vaginas!

I recently came across a series of paintings done by a brilliant artist named Jacqueline Secor. The pictures made me do a double take because what looked like floral textures at first, were in fact, vaginas. It was a series of work depicting floral renderings of female genitalia.

What was intriguing about these pictures wasn’t that they were female genitals painted in flowery patterns, but how different they looked from each other. It didn’t look like the same thing done in different styles. There was a noticeable difference between them.

image description: A series of nine artworks in a grid showing floral depictions of vulvas
[Image description: A series of nine artworks in a grid showing floral depictions of vulvas] via Jacquelinesecorart on Instagram
I previously believed that vaginas looked all the same. In hindsight, I’m surprised at my naivete.

Now, we already know women should explore themselves more, and I truly believe that. The statement that the vagina is the most talked about and least understood part of the body, doesn’t just apply to men.

In theory, you know what a vulva is, but would you be able to pick yours out of a line-up? If you can’t, then maybe you should work on that. Why don’t you grab a mirror and take a good look?

I’m not saying you should start researching vagina pictures (unless that helps you).

However, a first good step would be to remove the preconceived notion of what a vagina should look like, and instead, recognize how different each one can be.

Why is it important to appreciate and understand the variety in vaginas? Because the more you appreciate the beauty of your body, the less likely you are of looking for that validation from someone else. Self-love and acceptance are incredibly empowering.

The failure to recognize, embrace and love yourself the right way, can have greater consequences than just misrepresentation and unawareness. It can lead to psychological distress and at times, even a severe condition known as body dysmorphia or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder which causes individuals to obsess over an aspect of their appearance relentlessly, even if the perceived flaw is non-existent or insignificant. Falling for a media-based view of the perfect vulva can cause people to feel genital dysmorphia. They could find themselves making the desperate leap to cosmetic surgery, an industry which is more than happy to sell you the idea of perfection by going under the knife.

Plastic surgeons currently perform two kinds of corrective surgeries on genitals:

1. Vaginoplasty: A procedure to make your vagina tighter. It may also include the removal of some external skin for a more aesthetic appearance.

2. Labiaplasty: The surgical modification of the labia. The clitoral hood, the lips at the entrance of the vagina, and pubic lifts or reductions.

These surgeries can have serious side effects and might not treat the actual source of the problem: that there was nothing wrong with the appearance of your vagina in the first place, it was deeper rooted than that.

Plastic surgeons claim they’re going to make a patient’s genitalia “more appealing.” But to who? Are they trying to meet other people’s expectations, or is the media feeding you the idea of what a vagina should look like – without you even knowing?

If you need some realistic insight into this, please understand the porn industry is definitely NOT going to help you. Neither are pictures of genitals represented as neat little fruits and flowers.

image description: sliced fruit on purple silk
[Image description: sliced fruit on purple silk] via Charles on Unsplash
There are some amazing artists who have done alluring pieces of work similar to this that are worth looking up. There is also a captivating and thought-provoking documentary called 100 Vaginas.

The film is a very up close and personal look at vulvas and people with vulvas openly talking about them and their experiences. If you get a chance to watch this, do it, and understand that it will change you in some significant way by the end.

At least to a point where you won’t feel like you want to run and hide every time there’s a full-blown vulva on your screen.

image description: a woman is smiling while holding a camera between an open pair of legs
[image description: a woman is smiling while holding a camera between an open pair of legs] via IMDB
In the documentary, one woman said “It’s [the vulva’s] physical appearance and makeup is rarely discussed. And while we are taught endlessly about the blood, birth, and pain it will bring to us, its potential for pleasure is only ever really noted in relation to others. We live in a society that treats women entirely like a cock pocket.”

There are many diverse types of vulvas, and all of them are beautiful.

And if your V doesn’t look the way you thought she should, trust me, she’s still lovely, and you’re still a goddess.

If this is an explorative journey you have yet to take, I highly encourage you to try. It’s empowering, and you can never have too much of that.

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TV Shows Pop Culture

Seven questions I have for “Game of Thrones” fans, because I obviously live under a rock

I am completely guilty of never seeing a full Game of Thrones episode in its entirety. It seems like at any given point, whether or not a new season is currently airing, people are talking about this show.  An ex-boyfriend tried to get me to get me into the series and I’ve heard everyone from my best friend to my boss to the teller at the bank that it’s amazing.  

Needless to say, I’ve continued to ignore everyone’s recommendations to watch the show and my life has gone on without issue.  I have to admit though, the dragons seem cool. I rarely watch TV or get into shows, but it’s been impossible to ignore the hype around GoT over the past several years, so here are my most pressing questions for all you devoted Game of Thrones lovers!

1. Who is this little blonde fucker, and why does everyone hate him so much?


What does he actually do?  I get the basic premise that he’s awful, and I know he must have been a total piece of shit when people were happy that he died, but what’s his real deal?  He totally looks like an entitled white male, and that’s distasteful enough, but I need more details.

2. Does anybody actually live in this show?


I constantly hear that characters die off like fruit flies in Game of Thrones, so who is left?  Also, I’ve witnessed severe outrage and sadness by fans over the passing of a character.  So watching your favorite character die makes you…want to watch more?

This trend sounds infuriating as fuck!

3. What’s with all the torture, and how can you people stomach watching it?


The above is basically me any time I see something squeamish. I hate torture and that’s actually one of the main reasons I don’t watch this show, but how can y’all watch this human suffering and live with yourselves?  Am I missing something?

4. Why do you continue to shame me when I painfully admit I’ve never seen Game of Thrones?


People generally look at me in disbelief and promptly ask, “How have you never seen it?!” Then they proceed to tell me how awesome it is and how I need to watch it and how I’ll be totally hooked.  All while I have to stand there embarrassed af that I’m so uncultured that I’ve never seen a full episode of this grand show.  Yes, I get that I’m part of the one percent of people on this planet who have never seen GoT, but I’m not ready to join your cult!

5. What in the 7 hells is this thing?


Yeah, this is a big NOPE for me.  I thought GoT was mainly about nudity, sex, torture, and drinking, but they threw these things into the mix now?

6. What’s better, the books or the show?


As someone who holds an English degree and a nerdy book lover, I have to know.  Books are always supposed to be superior to the movie/TV series, so I want to know if all the torture is as gruesome in print as it is on screen and if there’s really that much sex.  Also, I’m totally going to turn the tables and judge you if I find out you’ve never read the books.

7. Is winter really coming, though?


I’m just curious!

If I had the time I would actually make an effort to watch GoT.  Until I don’t have a million things going on at once/my attention span for TV improves, please humor me and give me your answers.

Gender & Identity Life

My (near naked) experience at a Moroccan hammam changed my life

While I was studying in Morocco this summer, I was privileged to live with a wonderfully generous and kind host family. They welcomed me like one of their own. They introduced me to amazing food, music that still gets stuck in my head sometimes, and extraordinarily dramatic Arab soap operas.

Most noteworthy of all these new experiences, however, was my first time in a hammam, which is the Arabic word for bath house.

My host family told me that Moroccans will go to bath houses at least once a week, which goes to show what a big part of the culture they are. The hammams in Morocco are usually gender segregated, with young sons and brothers going with the women to the female-only hammams. The whole routine of public bathing is cleansing, but it’s also a social scene.

At first, the thought of a bath house is uncomfortable. It takes a minute to be okay with the nudity of it all. I didn’t go to a fancy, expensive hammam. My host family took me to the local neighborhood hammam.

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the moment I walked into that hammam.


There’s a lot of naked. Like, so much naked. And not just a little naked, but like full-on, totally and completely naked. Only some women, like myself, remained in their underwear. But it’s still so startling to be confronted with such a large concentration of unclothed bodies.

I mean, so many shapes and sizes and forces of gravitational pull. Gravity, by the way, is a merciless and cruel pressure on the female body. Many women washed their young children and elderly mothers before tending to themselves. And they are thorough. I could not imagine myself so meticulously bathing every crevice of any body which I think just speaks to the value of community in Morocco. It just goes to show how deeply people care about and for one another.

While the exposure to all the nudity is certainly an important feature of this story, it’s not the main point.

The main message of this story is that I’ve never felt cleaner than after I had just been in the public bathhouse.

My time in the hammam started with a sauna-like room. We sweat out all toxins in our bodies and lathered some sort of mud substance all over our skin. After a while, we washed away the mud scrub with warm water and I swear it’s like my skin could breathe again.

The next best part was the room temperature room. After soaping up and washing off with warm water, we used these exfoliating mitts to scrub our bodies thoroughly.  And wow a whole layer of skin basically rubbed right off. I cannot express how absolutely clean and refreshed I felt.

We conditioned our hair and combed through it. We chatted with each other and stretched sore muscles. We repeated any steps that felt necessary and ended the whole thing with a cold water rinse that was rejuvenating.

It was difficult to go back to normal showers after the hammam. Because again, nothing had ever been that cleansing. My skin was far smoother and I might even dare to say it was glowing.

I’m told there are public bath houses in the United States, too. Some may be traditionally Arab and some may be traditionally Japanese. I’m guessing they are a little more expensive and luxurious, but I still recommend. If you can replicate the hammam experience in your own home, that’s even better.

10/10 would recommend the whole experience. Even the naked parts.

Politics The World

You don’t need to shame Melania, even if you’re anti-Trump

Melania Trump is your “perfect” trophy wife: beautiful, not-that-smart, and obedient. The fact that she’s Eastern European and not incredibly well-spoken in English, adds to the sum that she’s your silent, behind-the-curtain, sidekick to her macho husband.

But the truth is, keeping a low profile at the side of her husband did not last very long for Melania. After the whole plagiarized-speech-fiasco, she brought the spotlight beaming down on her and left people wondering, who is Melania Trump, anyways?

Well, at least for me, it’s still not clear.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, cause this article might not go where you think it’s going. I’m not about to trash Melania Trump like Daily Mail did. Yes, she does leave some questions unanswered, but the fact that the media is more than willing to trash her dubious “Eastern European-like” past says more about how mainstream media views sexuality and the foreign, than about Trump herself.

The latest in Melania News is that the Slovenian beauty has a “sketchy,” highly sexualized past. From nude girl-on-girl photoshoots in French magazines, to multiple lovers, Melania Trump seems to validate the stereotype of the Eastern European women: “troubled” sexual past, yet ideal for marriage (at least, in the eyes of American men).

Yes, I do think that her lying about her immigration status and education is shady, but I’m gonna have to stand with her on the media’s shaming. Not only because I think that slut-shaming is not okay, but also because I think that there’s an unwarranted mystery around her being Eastern European and having this type of past.

If you want to trash Melania for plagiarizing a speech, I get it. But if you’re about to trash a woman for being a model and owning her sexuality, then something is clearly wrong.

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her having taken nude photos with another woman. I also don’t think there was anything wrong with her being an escort. It was a decision she made, and that’s a decision that – regardless of your personal opinion – we need to respect. 

The more pressing issue here is what this adamant slut-shaming says about how the world views female sexuality and nudity. Why is it “normal” for a woman to be nude when she’s a stranger, yet it’s such a big deal when it’s someone who’s supposed to be the ideal, well-behaved, wife? This double standard maddens me. I mean, after all, it’s her body, and she can do whatever she wants with it.

The problem here isn’t her choices, but how the world is viewing them. No, Melania isn’t the “perfect” First Lady that America and the world are potentially expecting, but that doesn’t mean she should be judged for her sexual past and personal decisions. Although media critics would’ve criticized her regardless of whether or not she’d been born in America, the way they frame her decisions is as a “hidden past,” shows that the media is still perpetuating the image of Eastern European women as “sexually sketchy.”

Women should be allowed to express their sexuality in whichever way they please – without judgment. If anything, knowing that she is getting bullshit for this reason makes me remember that she is a woman getting trashed for her sexuality (and whether I like her or not), that simply shouldn’t be happening.

TV Shows Pop Culture

Here’s what I learned from watching 5 seasons of Game of Thrones in 2 weeks

I am a bit late to the Game of Thrones party – about six years to be exact. To catch up, I watched all five previous seasons over the past two weeks. Like any binge-watching event, my fast-forwarded experience with GoT has highlighted a few things about the series that may have otherwise not been so apparent.

1. We are still much more comfortable watching naked female bodies than naked male ones.


Before anyone gets up in valyrian steel arms about this, hear me out: Yes, there is a plentiful amount of heterosexual—and even homosexual—sex in the series, which means inevitably including male bodies in conjunction with the female. However, women undressing on the show is much more often a “scene” as opposed to men undressing. Sure, we see a few penises here and there, but these instances are often portrayed in such a way that the audience doesn’t necessarily want to see more (e.g. genital warts or full-on castration.)

[bctt tweet=”We are still much more comfortable watching naked female bodies than naked male ones. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Contrast these incidents with how Melisandre the fire priestess or Margaery Tyrell gain their power—political, social, and/or religious—by using their bodies and sexuality.  While feeling powerful about one’s sexuality can be an incredibly positive attribute, turning it into the main source of power seems a rather outdated move for GoT to make.

2. Everybody should be in love with Brienne of Tarth.

As outdated as the female objectification is on the show, Brienne’s character does a lot to catch us up to a more realistic understanding of what it means to be a woman. Mocked endlessly by those around her for her stature and traditionally “masculine” physical attributes (broad shoulders, short hair, the right to not smile at all times), Brienne is not the emotionless fighting machine she is initially presented as. Her discipline with both her sword and her principles earn her roles as protectors of important individuals on the show, but she also falls for Jamie Lannister, a romance she knows will never see the light of day. Heartbreak for an atypically sized and shaped woman is no less a heartbreak than it is for a traditionally beautiful one, though the latter often receive the brunt of our attention in entertainment media. Brienne’s graceful acceptance of reality and focus on her work as protector of the Stark women is inspiring and uplifting, to say the least.


3. Daenerys Targaryen needs to go.

As a feminist who believes in upturning male rule, I should be an unhesitant Daenerys supporter. After all, for most of the series, she has been the only woman directly in the running to win the Game. But blindly supporting Daenerys just because she was a woman would not be dissimilar to throwing my support behind Hillary Clinton for the same reason. Though it is exciting that there is a woman in the running, the woman herself may be upholding certain oppressive norms. Is it not odd that the “Breaker of Chains” is white? Is it a coincidence that Daenerys is presented as a white savior to desert lands in which people have darker hair and skin and are clearly dressed in Middle Eastern garb?

We still argue the ethnicity of Jesus in Christian iconology as many have recently pointed out that he was, in fact, a Middle Eastern man, not an Anglo-Saxon European as he is often depicted. If we now view Daenerys as a female white Christ figure, we aren’t necessarily moving social issues forward just because a woman is in power; we are only solidifying the error of the old ways by distracting ourselves from one serious issue with another. Daenerys is no savior; she’s a social red herring.

[bctt tweet=”Daenerys is no savior; she’s a social red herring.” username=”wearethetempest”]

4. A little understanding of your enemy could help you win that pretty iron chair, folks. 

Though the focus is more on family lines than cultural ones, we would be remiss to not notice the various cultural landscapes in GoT, some obviously modeled on real-world civilizations. And like real-world cross-cultural contact, cross-kingdom contact in GoT is rife with not just misunderstanding, but often complete ignorance of the Other. A myopic Us-Them dynamic has been embraced by nearly every contender for the Iron Throne when perhaps a more all-encompassing eye is necessary. (Guess that’s why no one’s won yet.) Only the Night’s Watch really see the bigger picture and the one common denominator throughout all the realms: death.

5. Motherhood is incredibly complicated.

Repeatedly throughout the realms and seasons, we see mother figures not only as all-sacrificing female characters, but also as characters who sometimes lead their offspring astray. GoT does not hesitate to show the messy undersides of the relationships between mothers and their children, from the incestuous Cersei who births both her sons and nephews to the determined Catelyn Stark who mistakenly leads her eldest son, his wife, and her future grandchild to slaughter. Even the dark arts and magic get a say in motherhood, with Melisandre birthing a murderous shadow and Daenerys Targaryen becoming the “Mother of Dragons.” Heavenly mothers? Not here.

[bctt tweet=”Heavenly mothers? Not here.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My overall opinion of GoT? It’s often just as unbelievable as real life, so might as well watch it.