I used to perform as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty at birthday parties for little girls.  Something about re-telling the stories to these young impressionable females got to me, and suddenly one day I just couldn’t do it anymore.  The high budget films watched repeatedly are far more influential to them, but I still didn’t want to be part of the problem.  We teach little girls that something magical happens when they fall in love.  The monster can be tamed (Beauty and the Beast), the dead can rise from the grave (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty) the poor destitute girl can become a princess (Cinderella) and all the evils of the world can be overcome.  Don’t all fairy tales end with the phrase

“Happily ever after”

Reality and fantasy are worlds apart, yet the fantasy remains firmly entrenched into our cultural psyche.  Every culture has myths and stories, an idealized vision of reality, where good deeds are rewarded and evil-doers are punished. The adult equivalents of fairy tales are films, television, books and stories about celebrities.

One movie that I couldn’t even stomach when I was a teenager, the blockbuster and award-winning Pretty Woman in which a street-walker captivates and wins the heart of a wealthy business man.  A total farce of epic proportions, as in reality a common low paid prostitute would be drug addicted, abused, disease ridden and most of her clients would be lowbrow.  No conversations would occur beyond basics for the transaction and the sex would happen in a car, an alley, or an hourly rate motel, not a luxury suite.    Yet as far-fetched as this film’s premise was, it became an international sensation.  Something about us wants to believe in a story so ridiculous.  The message of the myth is: if you are pretty enough, sweet enough and sexually skilled you can overcome your socioeconomic background and marry a wealthy man despite the odds.  And of course this does happen, but how often?  I call it the myth of the magic vagina.

Not only can a magic vagina get you wealth and security but it can also turn a bad boy good.   For instance the motorcycle mechanic Jesse James repeatedly cheated on his movie star wife Sandra Bullock with multiple random women.  Yet his latest fiancee, Kat Von D somehow thought that even though he has cheated on every other woman in his life, she would somehow be the exception.  Was anyone shocked when she was not?

A serial cheater will inevitably blame the woman he cheated on.

  • She didn’t understand me
  • She wasn’t there for me emotionally
  • She was too concerned about her career.

All of these reasons lead to the end result of his penis finding a new woman.  And yet, he was able to convince a new partner–this time things will be different.  A good rule of thumb I try to follow is the following.

“If he is trash talking all the women who came before you, you will be next on the list”

I have been guilty of this same mistake.  Not so much with serial cheaters but with emotionally unavailable men.  If I just give him enough time he will come around, he is just scared, wounded, and on and on.  Nonsense.  He is just emotionally unavailable and he will remain emotionally unavailable until he decides to change, and he may never change.   The bad behavior will continue no matter what woman is in his life.  The same goes for substance abuse.  An addict will only get clean when they themselves decide to do so.   The bottle or drugs will always win over sex, romance, children, careers, even financial stability.

Many of us have gone through it or at least known a friend who has tried and failed at the same quest,

  • I can change him
  • He is misunderstood
  • He really loves me deep down
  • He understands me, when no one else has

The reality is we are all broken people with flaws and faults.  People should be taken as they are, and not as the subject of your next attempted metamorphosis.  Sexual prowess will not convert him, your never-dying devotion will not turn him around, nothing will change the man he is fundamentally.  Taking care of his every whim, desire and need, will only enable him to treat you worse.  A good manipulator will play into this myth and convince you that you are indeed the one who will cause his transformation.

Although the vagina is a beautiful and wonderful thing capable of sexual pleasure and the beginning of new life, it cannot transform anyone.  The only person who can understand the conflicting emotions and self-destruction is the person self-destructing, and even they can’t understand their own behavior–that is why we have therapists.

Now I am not advocating for telling little girls only harsh fairy tales like “The Little Matchbook Girl”, in which a poor abused child dies of exposure.  Nor would I recommend reading from the crime section of the newspaper for bedtime stories.  But can’t we get past the fantasies once we grow up and realize that the only person we can truly change is ourselves.  As women we have to take responsibility for getting caught up in the myth, bad boys can only survive and thrive if we keep encouraging them.

14 comments on “The Myth of the Magic Vagina

  1. Góthic Hangman

    There is a lot interesting things you raise here, some I fully agree with most a few I don’t. How one speaks about an Ex’s indeed says a lot about their (the tellers) character. If one has spent a significant time with someone, there are a very few reasons that behoove them speaking badly of them. If their paths have diverged it just may have ran it’s course. It’s no surprise people can also delude themselves into all kinds of unrealistic notions, whether it’s about life or perspective partners past/present/future. True it is impossible to change other people bad habits, they need to desire that change themselves. People will stay in bad relationships even if it effects their happiness. A bad relationship may drive one to do something they might not do under different circumstances. Indeed all our decisions are susceptible to the conditions of time, capacity and place. People can change for better or worse depending on some external conditions. Other people love to take credit or lay blame for those happenings. Though can those changes be in part attributed to a relationship? Well perhaps sometimes, more likely a change of heart is a result utter selfishness or personal desire for better or worse. Another facet too is relationships can drive us to be better or more self destructive immediately or over time. All this is based timing good or bad, though as mentioned it also has to do with our capacity and place in our own lives. If one chooses to have fairy tale expectations that will limit our ultimate capacity. No partner, organ sexual or otherwise will change another person in entirety. The same as no childhood tale will fully enforce the types of relationships we seek. Yes, it all does have a lot to do with what we were thought as children…it boils down if we were taught to have good character.

  2. Anders

    Giving love, affection and support to a person that needs to change his or hers behaviour can enable them to remain as they are.
    Some people respond well to a nurturing partner, others will be abusive and ungrateful because they are users, and as you know, they (users) come in many configurations.
    I think that some of the fairytales that you mention are archtypical in nature and they talk about the meeting of two people who belong together. They talk about destiny with oversimplified and fairy dust sprayed environments, in the exact same manner as Hollywood continues to do.
    We are so anxious to meet “THE PERSON” and magic will happen an all of out hormones will rage and we will be in love, and for some people that feeling is what they really want out of the relationship. After a period of time the hormones wear of and we are left with an actual person, who may be an asshole or worse and perhaps was in the relationship not to build it but to use it.
    The way I see it the phrase:
    “and they lived happily ever after”
    should say
    “and then the two of them was in a constructive relationsip with all of it’s ups and downs, they gave and took from each other in equal measure they expressed affection and emotional support. They where honest and loyal tru thick and thin and left each other enough personal freedom to be who they truly are and it lasted a long time and if it was not death that separated them the did so in agreement and amicably”
    But that is just to long.
    Pretty woman it’s all a lie right ! BUT stop and think what are the archtypical seeds in that story. Ask yourself, how does he treat her. Subtract the luxury suite the presents and all the superficial trappings, is he respectful? Does he have character ? Does he care for her ?
    He could be an insurance adjuster and she could be a receptionist at a cardealership, or she could be a computer programmer and he could be a salesclerk. You could build the same kind of story where the two of them come from bad or no relationships and they meet and a relationship starts and if there is no love and respect in the relationsip, you end up with a sordid story of abuse and despair, which you would have ended up with in Pretty woman too but with the superficial luxury items attached. That’s my two cents worth.

    1. julietjeske

      I would agree with you on the premise of one person being “The one” as being a bit of a farce. When I submit these to larger blogs I have about an 800 word limit so I can only get into so many topics in one entry. I think it is foolish to think that any one person will magically turn your life around or that people are per-destined to be together or any other nonsense like that.

      In regards to people with substance abuse problems I would have to say again that love won’t fix it. No one person no matter how strong, or how emotionally well put together can save an addict, if the addict does not want to save themselves. I have several addicts in my extended family and I have seen the scenario played out so many times. Addiction is a horrible disease, and it is a disease with a genetic component that we still don’t completely understand the causes and the reasons why some of those among us develop. Anyone who tries to “save” and addict usually becomes just another casualty as the addict self-destructs. I can think of one of cousins and his situation. His poor wife has stood by him for years and it has severely damaged her own life, and the future of herself and her child. If she had broken from him when their child was young and started over she would be in a much better place now. But instead she has played the role of the suffering and dutiful wife while he has succumbed to the demon of addict time and time again. Also had she left him years ago, he might have hit rock-bottom and gotten clean but by sticking around and always being his support system she has inadvertently enabled his bad behavior. I think the same could be said for many cases of abusive men, and I think serial cheating is a form of abuse.

      I don’t think there is no hope for addicts, but the hope that is out there is in a clinical setting of rehab and organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous. As addiction is a medical problem, not something that can be solved by “loving a person enough”. But our popular culture likes perpetuating the myth that the “right” man or woman can turn a person around. I would concede that the addict decided to fix themselves and that this perfect partner happened to be there when it they made that decision.

      I do think that we of course can help each other in relationships, and that people can improve themselves from a marriage or the right partner. However I don’t think anyone should look at their spouse or lover and say to themselves “Just wait until I get done with you”. Maybe if the changes that are made are superficial like clothing, neatness, perhaps some bad habits erased, but the core of that person will remain the same. Most people don’t change, and only change when they themselves make the decision to do so, and even then change takes a lot of time and effort. I think we really have sold a bill of nonsense to girls that somehow part of love is repairing or rebuilding another person.

      1. Anders

        I get the impression that all of us blogging and commenting on this post, (tank you for writing it BTW) agree that attempting to change other people is a very bad idea.

        I also agree that people with substance abuse problems are best left to professional help.

        Several years ago I came across the concept of a successful relationship and as I understand is that a successful relationship is one where both participants thrive and evolve on equal terms. Not codependecy but codevelopment.

        I thought you made an exellent point in the choise of title for this blog post and yes “love” is not a magical potion and love is for sure a two way street.

        Now for the fairy tales Ask yourself WHY are young girls so fond of those stories ? WHAT is it that the stories tell us ?

        For me they say when mr and miss right find each other a successful relationship happens automatically.

        They assume that the mr and miss right are allright, no broken people there no no no.

        Also based on the observation that people at their core are quite constant it would seem to be the best strategy to look for a person that one can like as they are, no assembly required. I will argue that is what the fairy tales also tell us in a oversimplified pixiedusted holly-twisted-wood way with the beautiful princess and handsome prince.

  3. S. Hazelton

    A very tiny note from a hotel worker stuck on the overnights… many, many prostitutes have sex luxury suites. Some are the upscale, high end ‘escorts,’ but most are the common prostitutes that look like extras from an episode of Night Court.

    1. julietjeske

      Maybe in New York, but I doubt many do in most parts of the country. I think the access to luxury suites might be too difficult to get. Something about a poor street walker in Missouri doesn’t make me think, the Four Seasons. But good to know! I remember when I worked at the House of Blues in Chicago, when wealthy men would bring in their escorts they were so obvious I thought they should wear signs that read “Prostitute”. The difference between a hired girl and a girlfriend was striking. The prostitutes were always trying so hard with public making out sessions and outfits that looked like they came from the “whore” department at Macy’s. Some would even openly talk about their line of work for anyone to hear. It truly was a sight to see. YIKES!

  4. Adam Auslander

    All vaginas a magical, just not always in the ways that we expect or want. Thanks for shining a light, pardon the 1960’s Bettty Dodson reference, on the fact that we can only change ourselves. Sometimes we find out too late into our relationships but then again it is never too late.

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  6. Kev

    The fairy tale myth is bad for boys too. What it is saying is that the way to a woman’s heart (and bed) is to rescue her. Having spent some time looking for chained up maidens and dragons to slay (all of which sadly seem to have gone the way of the unicorn), I instead managed to find women to rescue from themselves. The dragons I had to slay were abusive and absent fathers, economic circumstances, previous relationships, low self esteem, etc. And do you know what? I did it! I rescued them only to discover that having been rescued they didn’t need ‘prince charming’ anymore. Eventually I found a woman who was so damaged that our 7 years together consisted of me constantly fixing her problems and fighting her demons. Great! A match made in heaven. Just like ‘the perils of Penelope pitstop’ and I was the anthill mob! I even dressed as a knight and rode up on a horse to propose.
    Everyone say “ahhhhhhh”
    Actually, that needs to be spelt “arrgh”
    The net result was that there was nothing in the relationship for me, other than the fact that I was in some kind of relationship, where I got to be a hero in my own head, and she got relief from the pressures that she was unconsciously engineering. Eventually, I was so successful that, having found her father, fixed her relationship with her mother, helped her in her career and put a roof over her head, she had the time to realise that her real problem was that she liked women.
    Finally I was faced with a problem that I couldn’t fix.
    In a way this was good because it stopped me being the hero in my head. It made me realise that women, real honest to goodness, non virginal princess, healthy women, don’t need a white knight to rescue them, and so, by extension, I wasn’t going to need to be Prince Charming anymore. I get to be ME instead. Which is cool.
    You see, that’s what these stories are. Fantasy role play. Good for an afternoons entertainment but lousy as a life plan.
    I am no longer available for rescues. I have traded my horse for a Bat’leth. The prince is dead. Long live the king.

    1. julietjeske

      I heard this same argument before and I would have to admit I’ve seen examples of men like this. They get off on “saving” totally messed up women. I think they believe they are doing a nobel thing, when in reality they are just being manipulated. Of course not all situations of messed up women are like this, and not every situation is enabling. But I’ve definitely seen it more than once.

      I have another article on here called Bad Boys and Psycho Bitches about the female version of a bad boy. Some men are attracted to crazy, out of control women and they aren’t happy unless they are in these completely twisted relationships. They are definitely a more extreme version than what you are describing but it seems like a different shade of the same color. I don’t get where it comes from but what you point out might be part of the source.

      How sad for you that she ended up being gay. There is nothing wrong with being gay of course, but after investing all those years it’s a little heartbreaking to have it end like that. She might not have changed any of her behavior though, so she might just be putting a woman through the same thing she put you through. Gender and orientation doesn’t really seem to matter in these situations. If someone loves playing the victim they’ll do it to any parter. So you’re better off.

      If you have read any of my other stuff, I’m a straight spouse. My ex-husband was a closeted homosexual and well…that was hell. I write a lot about the subject, feel free to look through the blog. You might be able to relate to some of them. Just search Straight Spouse. 🙂 Sorry you had a messed up relationship, it’s rough out there. And as I always say, the only person you can save is yourself.

  7. Daryl

    I know this is an older blog but I wonder if this explains some of the fascination some women have with the whole ’50 Shades’ series of books and now a movie. What normal woman would put up with this misogynistic, controlling, stalking and abusive man in real life? I know it’s fodder for more than one complete blog of it’s own but maybe part of it is the “I can change him…” idea? A soft-core porn version of a fairy tale if you will…

    1. julietjeske Post author

      The movie didn’t exist yet when I wrote this. I’m not sure if the books did or not. The books were terrible. I haven’t seen the film yet so I don’t know what to think about it.

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