I can’t quite remember how old I was when I had my ears pierced. I remember wanting it done for quite a while, having seen and envied other girls proudly wearing their studs that mustn’t be taken out for weeks on end. Finally my turn came around and my parents took me to a piercing place that did kids ear piercings. I wasn’t tiny, I was old enough to adamantly state my case for having pierced ears and old enough to take care of them afterwards. I loved my newly pierced ears and made sure I followed the advice of the piercer, cleaning carefully around the area with surgical spirit and not removing the small studs for the set amount of weeks afterwards. Only using genuine gold or precious metal earrings. From then until today I’ve enjoyed having my ears pierced and love being able to wear earrings and decorate this part of me.
It was many years after I had my ears pierced that I decided to pierce other parts of my body. I was 29, certainly old enough to make these important decisions. My body, my choice; I enjoyed decorating my pierced ears with earrings so why not continue this elsewhere if I chose to? After plenty of research from the internet and speaking with my partner and friends I decided on the piercings I wanted. A navel (belly button) piercing and a VCH. Vertical clitoral hood piercing. I made the booking over the phone and went into town. They were both going to be done in the same appointment slot. I was nervous, but excited.
The piercings both went very smoothly and were carried out by a qualified professional, in a professional piercing salon. The female piercer used sterile equipment and wore gloves, and communicated the procedure both before and throughout. I was free to go through with it or change my mind. The excitement about my new body modifications and pretty adornments pulsed through me and I assured her that I was good to go with both piercings. It was all over in just a few moments. I barely felt any pain and it was tolerable; I’d certainly do it again. The navel piercing hurt more than the clitoral hood piercing, and it definitely bled more afterwards. I was shocked, expecting the genital piercing to be the one that hurt most and bled most – but in fact my belly button was the piercing that hurt more and required more aftercare. Nothing serious or painful, just tending with the special fluid the professional piercers had provided and allowing it to heal, not removing the gold belly bar that had been put in. I had a silver curved bar through my vertical clit hood piercing and the sensation was different. It would take a while before this feeling of something metallic and new so close to my genitals would be pleasurable.
It did happen, though. All my research beforehand had stated that this would be the case; a clit hood piercing can increase the sexual pleasure of a woman through either masturbation with or without sex toys or during sex with a partner. Throughout my years with a clit hood piercing the only slight issue I’ve had is the rattling of the metal if I use a bullet vibrator to stimulate my clitoris during masturbation. Everything else is sheer pleasure. There’s an illicit thrill attached to having my clit bar or ring slightly tugged or teased by a lover’s fingertips or tongue, or the motion of the ball-end against my clit during the thrusts of sexual intercourse. Knowing it’s there throughout the day, underneath my clothes, makes me feel sexy. Makes me feel more confident and attractive.
Sadly, my clit hood piercing closed up a few years ago. It’s my own fault; I thought it would remain open even if I took the bar out, as is the case with my ear piercings. The thing about genitals, women’s genitals in particular, is that they are excellent at healing themselves. They have to be, you see. There’s a little thing called childbirth which can cause more pain, tears, distortion of the female genitalia than any consensual genital piercing. The body truly is an amazing thing. I personally had to have stitches after labouring with my first child. It worried me – I thought that it would take forever to heal. In reality it was only about a week before the dissolvable stitches just weren’t there any more (they tend to come out during bathing when they’re ready) and I’d healed up perfectly. Unfortunately I forgot how well I’d healed up when I took my clit bar out and the hole closed up and I couldn’t reinsert my bar. I was disappointed – in myself, in my stupidity, and that I’d have to pay to have it re-pierced!
I will have it re-pierced though. The birth of my second child put those plans on hold for a while but this has given me time to research and think about whether I want the same or a different type of genital piercing. I’ve decided I want a horizontal clit hood piercing this time – if possible, after I’ve previously had a vertical type. Reasons? I’ve read and spoken to people who have clit hood piercings and with a horizontal clit hood piercing a ring through it instead of a bar opens up all sorts of fantastically kinky sexual possibilities. A ring with a ball at the centre to rub against the clitoris all day, a ring to which a trigger clip and leash can be connected by my kinky lover at my request, a ring through which a tiny vibrator can be held in place, a ring which can be connected via delicate chains to nipple clamps, wrist cuffs and much more. Even more sexual pleasure when I want it? Yes please, sign me up.
Then yesterday I heard the shocking, bizarre, insulting news.
What? This is not my experience. This is NOT what genital piercings carried out by professional piercers to consenting adult women is about. This is entirely wrong.
Even though it’s not illegal to have a genital piercing there is an element of prejudice if you do choose to have one. If you’re a woman at least – let’s not forget that men who have or choose to have genital piercings do not suffer the same indignity as women who go ‘on record’ if seen by the NHS. Because women don’t deserve the same freedoms as men, remember. After all, female ejaculation is a vile, disgusting practice (according to the new UK porn censorship laws) but male ejaculation is a welcome, normal thing.
Strangely enough, this is 2015, not 1815. I’ve checked the calendar and everything.
All I can hope is that this absolutely crazy, insulting ‘rule’ about recording female genital piercings as FGM will somehow be repealed in the coming days, weeks, months. Sometime soon. Just please – realise and admit that this is a mistake. I cannot believe this even got as far as the press. That when this thought was spoken the originating person wasn’t immediately reasoned with and made to see sense.
I watched the Comic Relief BBC Three programme about FGM last week, before this news about NHS rules broke. The programme was enlightening – totally distressing, but enlightening at the same time. I hadn’t realised that there are so many different types of FGM, different levels, methods, cultural traditions. I hadn’t realised that this isn’t merely something that happens in far off, distant places like Africa, but it happens in the UK as well. I admit it, my privilege had sheltered me from the realities. Still, I’m a little more educated now.
FGM is a disgusting, vile practice in my opinion. It’s not consensual. It’s not enjoyable. It’s not about what the women in question wants, it’s about controlling her. Controlling her sexual activity, childbirth choices and even attempting to control any sexual thoughts as though this ‘female circumcision’ (the insult of a practice so barbaric being compared to the relative safe procedure of male circumcision) could stem natural thought processes. I learned how girls as young as 5 years old were taken and held down, their clitoris cut out of them, their labia cut away and their vagina sewn up. Sewn so that only a small hole remains, to urinate through. When they get their period there isn’t enough space for the menstrual blood to flow out in many cases, so this can go back into the body, up into the womb and fallopian tubes and cause at least abdominal pain and infections, if not death to the girl. I learned that sewn up girls were cut and sewn in front of their close family members, their parents, who would check that the practice had been done ‘enough’ to their liking – and if not then they could be cut even more, sewn up tighter. I learned that these girls who had been ‘cut’ were seen as more pure than others, that it’s a practice which differentiates between marriage material and women of supposed ‘loose morals’ and social standing, if they weren’t cut. That these cut girls, once married, where either cut again by a woman to open themselves for penetration by their new husband, and/or the husband would have a knife nearby to cut them wider to allow them to take their penis. No matter the pain involved. That they’d be cut still further to allow for childbirth, then sewn again. As if these women were simply stock, cattle, breeding vessels.
I don’t care if this is culture or tradition, to me this is wrong and disgusting. The woman (or often young girl) has no choice in the matter. She cannot consent. None of this is about her pleasure, it’s about control. Women are living in the UK who are survivors of FGM and thousands more are still having this non-consensual, painful and disgusting procedure done to them. It’s not sterile, it’s not safe – the same knife can be used to cut 50 girls without being cleaned, that’s if a knife is used at all. It could be thorns, or even fingernails which are used to remove the clitoris and labia. This is barbaric treatment of women.
Compare this to my piercings at the start of this article. Do they seem even remotely alike to you? They’re not. Not at all. To liken consensual adult genital piercings to FGM is insulting both to women who choose to get their vaginal area pierced and to survivors of FGM.
This rule needs changing, and it needs changing NOW.