Comment of the Week: Real Women Don't Have Airbrushed Labia

photo by robbie_jim

We were surprised by how many of our readers took offense at our Wise Guys’ response to the recent question, “Do Men Care What Labia Look Like?” To our mind, the guys were basically saying, “Love what you got, most men already do, porn ideals be damned.” But apparently that message didn’t go over loud and clear. So, to rectify the situation, this week’s Comment of the Week is some labia love from reader Figleaf — who also happens to moonlight as a Wise Guy.

First let’s talk about labia, since that’s the main question: I think it’s a good idea to think of labia the same way you think of, say, ears, scrotums, tongues, or elbows — maybe in isolation you could say some are super-duper cute and others are unsightly. But a lot like elbows or scrotums, how they look doesn’t really matter because who sees them in isolation?

Now let’s talk about labias in porn, since that’s the context of the question. At the end of the day a heck of a lot that happens in porn has at least as much to do with production and distribution as it does with what’s actually erotic.

The sometimes grotesque positions would be one: there has to be a clear line of sight for the camera. “Money shots” would be another big one: wiping semen off skin takes a 10th the time it takes to squeeze it out of one’s orifices. Which takes us to the next oddity: while you’ll see plenty of semen (and, even more commonly, fake semen) you almost never see natural lubrication. People in porn evidently go through a lot of towels, in part, because the alternative is paying a lot more for laundry, upholstery cleaner, and rental damage deposits. (How erotic is that?!?!?)

Tiny labia are another possible fallout: biggest “soft-core” porn companies pay a lot of attention to markets like hotel pay-per-view, and nations or states that are willing to tolerate porn as long as it doesn’t go “too far.” And one big measure — best exemplified by Australia’s domineering Classification Board — is “discreet genital detail.” By which they mean literal or no visible labia minora.

With a result that, for instance, visible labia are photoshopped over or even right out of existence. Or, even better, unaroused models with very small labia are preferentially hired, and therefore are preferentially viewed.

The problem with these shortcuts, time-savers, and censorship-avoiding techniques is that without countervailing real-world sex education, a lot of viewers end up believing that’s not just what people are supposed to do (money shots? seriously?) but also how they’re supposed to look (tiny labia? seriously?).

Anyway, for really stupid reasons porn shortcuts end up having very real consequences. It’s definitely worth pushing back on this and other porn-induced cliches: It doesn’t feel as good when real men ejaculate outside their partner’s bodies. I’m pretty sure “reverse jackhammer” positions don’t feel good for anybody in real life. And, especially, real women get aroused during sex and real women don’t have airbrushed labia.

Figleaf, responding to the post “Wise Guys: Do Men Care What Labia Look Like?”


  1. I have to ask, are you in the porn making industry? How does one know all of the details? I wouldn’t consider this comment “common knowledge” by any means.

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