Today, Salon's Rebecca Traister explores the phenomenon of female writers' "graphic" accounts of the "messy realities of their bodies." Wait: Did someone say our name?!
First, disclosure: Managing editor Anna Holmes, former editor Moe Tkacik and this website's commenters are all quoted at length, posts are cited, and Jezebel is credited as one of the progenitors of the the new openness, "the leader of the oversharing crusade, with vibrant, aromatic and really graphic posts about everything from lodged tampons to yeast infection remedies to bloody period sex to female ejaculation." And we can't deny it: we have been known, on occasion, to wax anatomical. Not only do we as a community not happen to find the female body an uncomfortable subject, but it's safe to say we all appreciate that there's something uniquely fascinating about its mysteries. Graphic accounts can be gross, sure, but also comforting, reassuring, informative and funny in ways probably mysterious to men but very important to women.
In a larger sense, it is, of course, as Anna terms it, "cathartic." Traister identifies the phenomenon's larger implications: "Oversharing is in. And for a lot of people who are doing the sharing, or experiencing it, it's not so much "too much information" as it is the next, necessary step in personal-is-political, enlightened honesty about the female body." What may have been rooted, as Traister says, in a touchy-feely second wave Our Bodies Ourselves mentality, in more politicized "reclaiming" of the female body and, more lately, vaginas-are-outrageous shock-value humor is, hopefully, morphing into something neither shocking nor particularly charged.
As Moe says in the article, these pieces are about more than just tampons, female ejaculation and garlic cloves: they're about vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears - a female shorthand that implicitly evokes the biological push-pulls that govern so much of our lives. Such accounts can be frank, but what people are learning is that they are not inherently vulgar. Quite simply, when talking openly and honestly about women's issues, it would be disingenuous and bizarre not to "overshare" about our bodies. The female body will not be ignored: it burbles and leaks and creaks and drips and emits and produces and reproduces and generates and puffs and inflates and occasionally reeks. It is fascinating. It is scary. It is alarming. It is hilarious and silly and mysterious. As the range of experiences in "My Little Red Book," the new "first period" compendium, makes clear, this openness is a stark contrast to the fear and secrecy and implicit judgment that surrounded anything anatomical in the past. So when you're grossed out, just remember: we overshare because we love. And you can always skip the post - at least we have the option.