Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vagina vagina vigina

Until fairly recently, I wasn’t totally comfortable with the word vagina. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit… British. But despite growing up in a naked house with a feminist mother I was well into my thirties before I could utter the V-word without blushing.

As a child I used the ridiculous sounding “front bottom”. As an adult, I tried to avoid mentioning it altogether, when pushed, I would say “down there” in a rather hushed tone that implied I was talking about something scandalous.

I couldn’t even bring myself to say it during medical appointments. I would simply insert an awkward silence where the word vagina belonged. This was particularly excruciating during my second pregnancy when I experienced “sharp twinges in my ……….”

And then one day, about twelve months ago, I realised how silly my daughters sounded when they called their vaginas’ “front bottoms”, and I knew I had to change.

It took considerable effort to flick that switch – but I found that every time I said it, it got easier. So I said it a lot. Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!

At first my girls were confused by the new word, but they soon caught on. I think it might be one of the most important things I have ever taught them.

A friend of mine recently admitted that she also has a bit of an issue with the word vagina (she is also British! Coincidence?). She asked me why it was such a big deal.

“It’s such a medical word!” she grumbled, “what’s wrong with a euphemism?”

 It was a fair question, especially since I had offended her sensibilities by saying the dreaded word, quite unabashedly, in her presence.

What’s in a name? (don’t worry, I am not about to compare my vagina to a rose) For me, it is about owning my body and not being embarrassed by any part of it. Part of that ownership comes from using the proper name for body parts and not shying away from them.

I want my daughters to grow up with healthy body images and knowing the proper names for their body parts is an important foundation for that. So they’ll be no more “front bottoms” in our house.  It’s VAGINA all the way!


  1. Detachable PrincessMarch 12, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    My problem with euphamisms is that, if they're too out there, kids who try to report sexual abuse might be misunderstood or brushed aside. I refuse to hear doodle, nuts, bum - even though those ones are fairly easily understood. My kids have a penis and testicles and a bottom.

    1. You are totally right. That is a really great point.

  2. Maybe it's because I'm an (aspiring) writer, but my life would be a much sadder place without all the wonderful euphemisms at my disposal! :)

    1. Detachable PrincessMarch 12, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Maybe it's because I'm not very creative, but I actually don't *understand* many euphemisms. Straight talking for me!

  3. Hear hear!! And our recent trip to the hospital for numerous inspections for one of my boys has made me realise we can no longer call a penis a pecker or a willy - it has to be what it is. I'm in the process of changing it! I have to say I still like giney - because it's like a shortened word for vagina :)

  4. I am the same with my kids. I want them to grow up calling a vagina a vagina and a penis a penis. Years and years ago, a friend of a friend had a daughter who was four at the time and she called her vagina a woohoo. And from that moment I vowed if I ever had kids that I would call them by the proper names.