Freud committed an act of violence against humanity by naming “penis envy” without naming its opposite: “vagina envy”. As someone who lives with non-stop vagina envy knowing that only 1% of the population is supposedly trans, and that not all of us are MTF, I am wondering if vagina envy is as rare as that might imply.
I mean, after all, a Freudian interpretation would be that everyone has penis envy from time to time, but it is a rare or dysfunctional person who would have vagina envy. Tragic.
Apart from admiration of women’s bodies, which I believe most rational people recognise as more aesthetic than men’s, and what is more erotic than the mystery and shape of a woman’s groin, there is the intense mystery surrounding its operation and function. It is a tragedy of society that a majority of women are unable to name and identify all of the key parts of their own vaginal anatomy. That speaks to the inaccessibility of female pleasure. If you can’t name it, or you give nicknames to it, can you embrace it and own it, and be relaxed with it?
And as a woman-loving man, how on earth could you grow into your sexuality in a way that is rooted in her pleasure if your partners can’t even teach you? I have posted separately about the importance of a different kind of sex education. It is a crime against all of us that the anatomy of the vagina and an understanding of the architecture of female pleasure are not front and centre in sex education. I believe that fear of the vagina is one of the most deep-rooted and insidious causes of male-on-female violence. Impotent rage has its source in this fear.
I had the benefit of a girlfriend in college who asked me to kneel between her legs one day, and she taught me things that I should have learned many years before. She lifted her skirt, pulled down her panties, spread her legs and gave me a very in-depth anatomy lesson and in-depth introduction into how to please her. She was so nonchalant about it, and so sex positive about it, that she only giggled when her roommate, who was home, walked in on us. And her roommate was positive too.
I don’t know if every man would have responded as I did when she told me to get between her legs. I guess I should have been self-conscious. Knowing that her roommate was 10’ away, that we were in her living room, and she was sitting on the couch. It was really easy though. I can still remember how easy it was, how un-self-conscious I felt. I wonder about that now. Is that how anyone would feel? I am still grateful to her to this day for what she did for both of us.
You would likely not be surprised that she and I had a very fulfilling sex life—it was frequent, varied, hot, and all about mutual pleasure. With other female partners, at times I struggled to find that level of connection again. So often, it had to do with either knowledge or feelings of shame. So many women seem to be ashamed to be touched down there, to be eaten and licked and loved down there. It isn’t that I am a vagina fetishist, or obsessed with cunnilingus, but I am obsessed with ensuring that my partner is satisfied, that she shudder with pleasure, and that is far more important than my own arousal or satisfaction—because I know that I will always get my turn, always be repaid with interest for the investments I make in my partners satisfaction, fulfilment, and body love. And I wonder if we are denied this as a society, by not talking more about vagina envy.
Penis envy was defined by Freud as female envy of the male penis, and was paired with what he referred to as the castration complex—that part of female psychosexual development is rooted in the realisation that they are born “castrated”. What harmful nonsense. And though it is only rarely ever discussed, the academic psych literature on vagina envy is not much better:
“The possibility of vagina envy is seen as a result of men’s ambivalence toward the assigned male roles. They must always be strong, correct, stoic…etc”. This is a quote from the American Psychological Association and is broadly consistent with the official literature. But what a crock! This is completely written from a male perspective.
What about people like me? People who look at women’s emotional range as the definition of emotional freedom? What about people like me who look at women’s friendships as the definition of supportive relationships? What about people like me who find the female body sublimely beautiful but are turned away by the male body? What about the holiest of holies, a woman’s ability to give birth and to feed and nurture a child? What about someone like me who regards motherhood as the single highest calling that exists? Why isn’t that what we mean by vagina envy?
Okay, as a non-binary person, a trans MTF, it isn’t surprising that I have a severe case of vagina envy. I will also say that there is nothing in my life that simultaneously causes me more existential pain but also gives me deep and fulfilling spiritual and physical pleasure. But are there cis men out there who experience vagina envy? Boys? Let me know. Ladies? What do you think?