BEAN . ‘Decades’ . My (mid) 60’s


Sketch of Nude Woman by Angela Plesa


I am not easily embarrassed, and I am passionate about voicing my every thought. I have been working on this, but either it is a strongly engrained habit or I have a precariously flimsy, filter-capability.

This could, in part, be due to being a nurse of the era of resident life when every conceivable medical condition in, and on, every conceivable body part, was rehashed ad infinitum in residence and in the dining room. Another cause of my outspokenness is a juvenile need to break away from my mother’s lady-like example in any and every circumstance. While this is my favourite and most admired trait of hers, it was also my least favourite trait. Mom never once let loose with any burst of emotion. And there were many times when a reaction was called for, instead of a controlled silence.

My outspokenness is also a reaction to the centuries-old adage of “keeping private everything that occurs behind our doors”. This was a patriarchal demand by men to make sure they could continue to do whatever they wished behind those same closed doors. Time for we women to take a stand.

Also, if the truth be told, I enjoy the shock value. All this to explain my voicing my every thought.

As mentioned, the not easily embarrassed thing is due, in part, to many nursing situations I experienced. One job I held for seven years required me to monitor the skin condition of incontinent patients. In that role I had to go into hospitals, nursing homes, Ontario Hospitals, and discreetly examine all surfaces of every incontinent bottom. This was to ensure incontinent products were applied and removed properly. When caregivers were inattentive or ill-informed, skin abrasions and breakdown would result. So monitoring was done monthly for three months to teach proper application of ‘briefs’. I recorded diagrams of all surfaces of each person’s bottom each visit, compared, then calculated a success percentage rate.

So, in nursing, embarrassment depletes quickly. I often think what some people find embarrassing is an inability to accept their bodies and their functioning as normal.

Social embarrassment has been redefined over the years as well. Showing an ankle was once risqué. Now, exposure to a variety of literature, movies, plays such as “The Vagina Monologues” break down our cringe factor, one image, one word at a time. In “Vagina Monologues”, the author and actresses attempt to expunge society’s hang ups about their own body parts and even their anatomical names.

I was recently reminded of a story I wrote nearly ten years ago, in which I attempted to educate the world of women concerning ‘the gradual inevitability of their prized bush turning into a bald pussy’ (the same goes for men as well, folks). That one bit of writing is how I am fondly remembered by that fellow writer.

This is all to explain that while I do not embarrass easily, I was a little shocked (is that an oxymoron?) by a movie I saw recently. The genre was Romantic Comedy. “The Ugly Truth” (2009) starred Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, two gorgeous examples of humanity. Its funny and frank content still gives me pause.

Katherine’s character (despite her stunning good looks and perfect ‘Barbie’ body) has never had success with men. So, during their conversation on the matter, Gerard’s character asks Katherine how often she “flicks her bean”.

“Oh, she said, “never. It is so impersonal.” 

To which, Gerard replies, “What could be more personal? If you don’t want to do that, why would anyone else want to do it to you?”

Casual banter about one of the few remaining conversational taboos (at least in my generation) – female masturbation. It struck a chord (obviously). On the one hand, I was amazed and appreciative of the visually appropriate slang for clitoris. On the other hand, despite my exposure to the world and its inhabitants, I wonder if I have lived under a rock? Is ‘bean’ a commonly occurring colloquialism that even my granddaughter is familiar with, or just a colorful invention of that script writer?

Men have a long list of slang names which they have devised for their masturbation, penis and scrotum. They shamelessly and with great pride banter them about – their ‘member’, ‘central forelimb’, ‘package’. The names are often humorous and the list could fill pages.

Now consider slang names for women’s reproductive parts. They are traditionally created and spoken by men. Most are embarrassingly rude, crude, offensive.

So, I actually love this new moniker and think we woman should embrace it. ‘Bean’. As I see it, it really is quite perfect, and lovely and feminine. Picture our lima bean, protectively cuddled by petals of labia folds. Ponder the lovely image!

Art - Peony Stephs Xmas gift 2007



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