But vaginas itch too, and it’s not okay for women to relieve their genital prickles when they’re just chilling. Vagina is made of skin, and it’s skin that sometimes gets irritated. For me, it’s particularly bad when I shave off my bush, as I occasionally do - the two weeks after I quit shaving are usually filled with mid-conversation trips to the bathroom just to scratch. Chilling with friends is supposed to be relaxing, but as with many spaces in this kyriarchy, women have additional pressures and requirements to live up to.
I didn’t notice this disparity until my very clever friend remery scratched, apologized, and complained about it one day, but it’s true: as with many bodily functions, cis women only feel free to attend to pressing bodily urges when they are in cis women-only spaces. If we are in the middle of a conversation with a cis man, we must excuse ourselves so they’re not confronted with the horror of our ladylike hands scratching our precious flower.
But though balls are safe for cis men to scratch, not all people with testicles are quite so free to soothe themselves. As with many of the itches of inequality, people who are trans experience particular and intensified scrutiny in attending to their prickling private parts. Genital policing is not just socially awkward for trans men, women, and nonbinary people; any extra attention to the contents of their underwear can be dangerous, particularly since bathrooms are a contested space where trans people receive extra scrutiny rather than the relief of privacy. Trans women particularly have no recourse for this cissexism, since they do not usually get into the “women-only” spaces referenced above, where scratching lady bits openly is okay.
I’ve never seen a woman scratch her bits with men around, so I have no idea what the reaction would be in a mixed-sex social situation. But I do know what the reaction is when those most overwatched, overpoliced, overexposed women - celebrities - scratch themselves in public:
The animated picture [since removed] above, of pop singer Christina Aguilera scratching herself while wearing tight clothing, is described with distaste and slight disgust in the attending text. Scratching balls as a concept has 65,000 fans on Facebook, and describes the practice as "natural pleasure that is every mans god given right to enjoy at home and in public!" The image of men watching TV with their hands in their pants is familiar because of characters like Al Bundy. But scratching vagina just elicits the adjective “gross”.
Christina Aguilera is being judged because she’s a woman attending to her needs in a way the kyriarchy doesn’t like to see. Though there’s much emphasis and judgment placed on our bodies, an awareness of the needs of our bodies is more than the kyriarchy can handle.
As a woman, my body is supposed to be without functions or needs. There is a huge culture of shame and stigmatization around discussing the processes that are a natural part of our body - my menstrual cycle, my bowel movements, and my sexuality are all things that are supposed to happen for the most part alone, something I shouldn’t talk about.
Though our bodily fluids and urges are often beyond our control, we must keep them clamped down so that we can remain appropriately feminine: scratching, pooping, and bleeding are gross, and if we discuss or attend to them, we are gross.