Posted by: Ophelia | June 6, 2008

The Vagina Myth

This is a feminist blog so one can expect a post about vaginas now and again. In this regard, we’ve been sorely lacking, and I’d like to offer something up for discussion that has been bothering me for a while. Vaginas don’t smell like fish. Frankly I’m sick of hearing about the latest deodorants so I can smell like there’s a floral arrangement in my pants. Vaginas do have odor, all parts of our bodies do, but they certainly shouldn’t smell like fish and if they do, it could be symptomatic of bacterial vaginosis (don’t diagnose yourself, get thee to a gynecologist to figure out the proper treatment–I’ve seen too many women trying various remedies to cure something they didn’t have/couldn’t treat on their own).

Pardon my tangent here, but that also irks me–no one knows about bacterial vaginosis and to survey any random drug store “feminine product” aisle, one would think it doesn’t exist. Any vaginal malady is called a yeast infection and they’ve got a bunch of products for you to use to cure it but never any instruction to just go to the doctor. Are we supposed to be ashamed to ask a qualified professional if everything is as it should be? It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that these over the counter treatments cost a pretty penny and if you never go to the doctor, you can go through quite a few in a vain attempt to end the itchiness.

Anyway back on track here, first off these deodorant products normalize abnormal odor and stigmatize natural odors. They’ve managed to convince everyone that vaginas are supposed to smell like a fishery, and even if they don’t, naturally occurring odors are undesirable and unwomanly. It also completely neglects the fact that many women may be irritated by strong perfumes which may trigger unnaturally pungent odors. Much as we’ve discovered with douching, these perfumes may cause the very problem they claim to treat.

What’s so feminine about “feminine odor”? Seems to me that sweaty crotch could affect either gender, yet I don’t hear any commercials for men’s products for “not so fresh feelings”.

* I just went browsing around for a list of products and came across a vaginal suppository to eliminate odor–it called itself in deodorant but actually introduces lactic acid into the vagina presumably to lower or balance the ph creating a more neutral odor. The first comment begins, “I smell like a virgin all over again.”

Ah, delicate, sweet smelling virgins. Is that what it’s all about?



  1. SO many women are convinced that they smell, that they spend a fortune on this crap. These companies keep getting richer while we mess with our natural body chemistry. If you have a body you at some point will STINK. Have a shower and move on.

  2. Its so hard to find products that are good for your body and they don’t even get press. RePHresh is actually a decent product that balances vaginal PH for 3 days at the time–but I don’t even see commercials for it, as opposed to all the yeast infection treatments and deodorizing soaps/sprays/douches/lotions/etc.

  3. “The first comment begins, “I smell like a virgin all over again.””

    Right, because when I lost my virginity, the first thing that happened was that my cunt smelled different.

  4. Whereas beforehand it smelled like a summer breeze or perhaps a field of flowers gently wafting in said summer breeze.

  5. I love you for this post.

    A lot.

  6. Whereas beforehand it smelled like a summer breeze or perhaps a field of flowers gently wafting in said summer breeze.

    I love you for this comment.

  7. The idea of “smelling like a virgin” horrifies me. Its just reminding me that so many women and men think that our bodies (vaginas most specifically) should be like freshly fallen snow. You don’t touch it, you don’t mess it up and it looks perfect untouched. And that we would be lusted after to enhance male egos about ‘deflowering’. Sex scared me when I was a virgin, now I can enjoy it. I know when I smell off, and when I do I take a shower. If that doesn’t fix what I know is how I smell (and I know it an like the smell) I go to the doctor.

  8. As a man, i find the healthy, natural sent of a woman – nice.
    ….. however there are a number of ladies who wipe forward following the poopie-doodie, & i don’t recommend that at all.

    • @schultz: There are an alarming number of men who do this as well, and yet society seems content ignoring offensive male genitalia odor. I wish advertisers would push ball bag scrub and smegma wash as fervently as they do vaginal cleansing products.

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