The narrative is only conflict or complaint. I ask my friends, If a vagina had a facial expression, what would you read? My friend A says, Humph, and then my friend D says, mildly irritated—pursed lips. A says, Yeah, like a baby trying to decide if it likes what was put in its mouth, and D interjects with laughter. A ponders for some time as D finishes laughing, and then she says, Or imagine a vagina that looks like it’s about to sneeze, to which I say, That’s a euphemism. A-N joins the conversation and says, What about vaginas with big clits? They look like they are weary sometimes. So many folds. I think about what a happy vagina might look like, or what it would take to get an answer from someone about vaginal expression that isn’t based on irritation, indecisiveness, or weariness. I say, I wonder when vaginas look happy. No one responds. So I think about a list of physical attributes that are important to me in terms of sexual appeal. Balanced frame, comes to mind. Some people crease and fold into themselves. I know this when I see people sitting with their elbows on tables. Their elbows nearly meet, their arms are held upwards, creating the shape of a V. On top of the V, their hands clasp together by the tips of their fingers, except for when they speak. When they speak, their hands move like the wings of a fledgling, not quite practiced. Instead of a fledgling, I think the hands in motion appear more like the jerky flops of a puppet, which feels uncanny, like a weary vagina, concave folds folding. A balanced frame might help, but it’s difficult to attain when there’s so much to be weary about.
Bailey Pittenger teaches and writes. Her most recent work can be found in Gigantic Sequins, NANO Fiction, and The Fem Literary Magazine. She tweets: @baimestayer.