A little story for you- My mum and 4 or 5 year old me, sat in the doctors waiting room-
– Me (Precocious reader)- “Mummy- What’s a Virginia” (How I had pronounced it not how it was spelt- Vagina)
– My Mother (a keen gardner): “Oh um its a type of plant”
– Me (Reading a Canestan leaflet): No mummy it says you need to rub cream in twice a day to solve Virginal Itching. (pronunciation was never my strong point)
– My flustered and embarrassed mother hissing: It’s a woman’s willy!
Now possibly I think my dear old mum should have thought more about the naming of the lady parts before being completely humiliated in the waiting room like that (and as you can see LadyCurd started to feature in my life from a young age ) and erm seriously A WOMAN’S WILLY!? Erm No just NO!
The lovely ScribblesFromTheMiddle is going through this dilemma at the moment with her boys and this led to a discussion on twitter. Some advocating girls bits, or vagina, or Gina (pronounced as in China not as in Ford ) or Yoni (Sanskrit for Vagina), and then there are a whole host of other cutesy euphemistic names (but seriously anyone who calls it “twinkle” automatically makes me think “Twinkle in your Father’s Eye- and then I want to vomit). Personally I love Fanjo but I think that’s an an adult term really (and don’t get me started on the offensive terms for female genitals that somehow carry more venom and offense than the male equivalence- in fact there is another letter in that somewhere- Dear Cock).
Now I have two girls and I am a feminist of sorts and a scientist. It annoys me how many women are confused by their own body parts and unable to name them properly (not helped by only generally learning the internal not the external female genitals at school etc.) Now I am not expecting my 2 year old to start realing off Labia Majora, Labia Minora etc but technically when I am talking about “Girls bits” I am talking about Vulvas and not Vaginas as such, But I am pondering how brave I will be when it comes to naming the parts for my girls. Do I really want them to be the only girls in the playground using the anatomically correct term? Thinking back to my playground experience- everyone at my school called it a “split” – yuk! I really don’t want my girls to be using offensive names for a part of the body I hope they will learn to love and not be embarrassed or ashamed by.
It annoys me that there is inherent sexism in that little boys can be quite happily taught “penis” as the correct word, and no-one raises an eyebrow, yet naming girls parts causes sniggering and embarrassment. Why? Why are we ashamed of our vulvas and our vaginas? Why can’t we can’t we comfortably say to our little girls in the bath or on the loo- now wash/wipe your vulva? Argh and I was ever so slightly embarrassed even just to type that! How very annoying!
I think I am coming to the conclusion that I am more comfortable with the word Vagina when even though strictly it is anatomically incorrect, it is something I can probably live with. But nargh it will rankle with me AS ITS INCORRECT- I AM TALKING ABOUT A VULVA NOT A VAGINA. Hmmmm.
So anyhow dear Vulva- I am sorry we all seem so utterly embarrassed by your existence we can’t even call you by your proper name. It is something I am working on addressing and I definitely will be clarifying with my girls once they are old enough to understand
and not completely humiliate me in a doctors waiting room or playground.
Lots of love
the euphemistic name for vaginal discharge in cases of thrush
P.S Best Joke Ever:
Have you got a Vulva?
No I drive a Vauxhall.