The other day my Dad was moved to comment that the current relentless stream of bad luck in my life might be some sort of elaborate test and if I manage to come through it all ok I will be immediately hired by MI6.

Recent unlucky events have included my bank card being cloned in the Ukraine, my car being broken in the garage, my cat being incontinent in my bed and my body being covered in allergic stress hives.

Treeza May, I am at your service. We all know that when you need a bad-ass agent to uncover Soviet spies in Salisbury you should look no further than a stressed-out, middle-aged mother whose life-story makes Casino Royale look like an episode of Topsy and Tim.

Yet today I must confess, even I am feeling defeated by life.

It turns out that while I, like many single mothers, have been worrying about piddly problems like how to pay bills and how to keep kids alive and not die ourselves of depression and despair, we have been neglecting to sufficiently worry about whether our VULVAS ARE GROTESQUE.

There I was believing myself to be as neurotic about my body as any other woman in a patriarchal regime which demands exceptionally high standards so that I fret about my ageing face and saggy tummy and lack-lustre boobs and wobbly thighs, when all this time there was another deep, dark…ahem…tunnel of anxiety over the acceptable appearance of my nethers.

The ways in which your vulva may be repulsive to the modern male are many and varied but essentially boil down to these two main factors: 1. Too hairy. 2. Too flappy/lippy. The presence of these two features upset the modern male presumably because they remind him that you are an actual living, breathing, human woman and not a latex fuck-doll.

It seems that now, even a woman of my age, who grew up in the era of the pube, must ensure fellas don’t feel twitchy about my twat.

When I was a teenager, a boy would be thrilled to the point of premature ejaculation if you let him grope your boobs. If you offered him actual sex he would be so blinded by gratitude and disbelief that your vagina could look like a silver-back gorilla eating spaghetti and he’d dive on in regardless. Ah, what golden days of pubes and piss-flaps they were…

What on earth has happened in the intervening years?

According to NHS figures, an increasing number of girls under 18 are undergoing a labiaplasty, a surgical procedure to shorten or reshape the lips around the vaginal opening, a procedure which the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology (BritsPAG) says has no medical benefit whatsoever. The number of girls having this procedure outside the NHS, in private hospitals, is unknown.

BritsPAG are so concerned about this unnecessary surgery they’ve teamed up with Brook (the sexual health and well-being advisory service for young people) to create an online info-pack entitled ‘What is a Vulva Anyway?’ in which they provide a huge range of examples of folds and flaps in an effort to recalibrate young people’s expectations of how a woman’s genital offerings should look.

It would seem that a hundred years of suffrage and decades of feminism have proved no match for the might of the porn industry. We all know that boys are watching more porn than ever before, seeing more extreme sexual activity, more ‘perfect’ vaginas and bleached arseholes. But their expectations of real-life sex now go way beyond wanting a girl to have a bald-like-Barbie pubis and a neat opening. Their desires are becoming pathological to the point where girls and young women are routinely expected to accept anal penetration on a first date along with a little light strangulation.

This seems to be about more than just sex and sexuality. Is this what happens when access to available porn meets the entitlement of the male? When our entire culture encourages men to turn their fantasies into realities, be they a holiday, a car or a blow-job from a fourteen year old girl? Is it inevitable that this culture of gratification leads to men seeking the same routine perfection in sex as he demands in his Big Mac, a satisfying consumer experience with no surprises or cause for complaint?

I have just enough self-esteem left within me to resist the pressure to inspect my vagina for faults. The way I see it, if a man is not put off by the attitude, the filthy humour and the saggy body, he’s unlikely to find my pubis a deal-breaker.

Plus, unless my current stream of bad luck is interrupted by the arrival of a fit young fella into my life, most of my encounters will be with men who also descend from the era of the pube and may therefore find my netherage rather retro and nostalgic.

But my girl is eighteen years old and growing up in this hairless, faultless new world. I have never asked her if she’s worried about her labia. I am now worried that she may be worried about her labia. I am now worried about her labia.

So, a new worry. Excellent.

Thank you, patriarchy.

Go here to view the BritsPAG/Brook Vulva Guide

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