Vagina is a word that is all too often used incorrectly and it bothers me. Vagina is the name of the internal part of the female sex organ and vulva is the name of the external female genital organs and yet so often I hear the word vagina being used in reference to what is in fact the vulva possibly the most notable use of it being The Great Wall of Vagina. Now I can understand Jamie McCarthy’s desire to title his work thus, it is just such a great play on words but still, there is part of me that always finds myself muttering ‘but it should be vulva’ under my breath. I do however forgive the artist wholeheartedly on this occasion because, well, the play on words and because the artwork in question is quite frankly one of the most amazingly powerful pieces of sculpture I have ever seen.
However when people use these words incorrectly it does tend to irritate me. Please, just don’t do it. Having said that, neither of them are particular ‘nice’ words and for me neither of them have any erotic or sexy powers and, even now at the age of 40something, when I hear the word vulva my mind always strays to Volvo. No matter how hard I try, you say one, I hear the other and somewhere inside me a teenager giggles. I apologise profusely for my inner teen.
When it comes to teaching my kids about body parts I have always tried to stick to using the correct terminology and when we have not that has really been about their own preferred use of language. I taught my daughter the correct anatomical names but when she was quite young she decided upon the word ‘Gina’ (pronounced like the ‘gina’ part of the word Vagina) and she still uses that word now (she is 12) but she knows the correct words. For my son the word of choice was willy, although since he has reached puberty I have noticed that he seems to have changed that to dick, my suspicion is though that he is not comfortable using the word cock with his Mother. I, myself have no feelings on the matter, the words they decide to use are completely up to them, my job was to teach them the correct words in case they ever needed them and give them the space they needed to be comfortable with their own bodies and therefore free to use the language that felt natural to them.
As a child my Mother called it my weewee which when I was little made complete sense to me, after all, you did a wee, from your weewee, obviously. However as I got older and puberty started to happen that word just did not seem to work for me anymore. I can remember my Mother buying me a book about puberty which had a very simple pencil diagram of the female genitalia, including the clitoris, sadly it didn’t explain what that specific part was for, a fact that meant it was many years before I worked out how to make myself cum (but that is a whole other post) However, after reading that book I started to adopt the word vag, I knew it wasn’t correct, but I rather liked it as a descriptor of the body part and even now it is still I term that I will use sometimes when talking about it in a non sexual way, eg, I don’t like those knickers they keep cutting up into my vag. I don’t remember when I started using the word pussy, I suspect it was in my late teens once I was sexually active and it was definitely the word I preferred for many years. It was not until I started to really explore my sexuality and my kinks in my mid 30’s that I discovered a love for the word cunt.
Of course there are a myriad of words for both male and female genitalia. I myself prefer pussy or cunt depending on my mood and cock for, well, a cock, although sometimes I will use dick but I think that is because @domsigns uses that word at times. However when it comes to words for the female genitalia there is a whole host of them that I hate with a passion.
Vajayjay – I am sorry, it is some sort of parrot or exotic bird of paradise?
Front bottom – Please don’t ever tell your daughter that her genitals are called this. You bum is your bum is your bum and should never be confused with anything else. For me, the not so hidden message of, ‘this is a dirty place’, inherent in this name makes me sad.
Snatch – Makes me think of a Venus Flytrap, with teeth!
Down there – Say what? Down where exactly?
Gash – There is something so horribly negative about this one that it makes me shudder
Beef Curtains – Again, the implication is one of something unattractive, possibly smelly and bloody, that I find insulting.
There are of course many more some of which I quite like, such as quim, it has a softness and old-fashioned ring to it that I find myself drawn to but for the most part it is the slang words that sound derogatory that I really dislike, although there are many people who would include the word cunt in that definition, it is a word that I love. It is strong, powerful, utterly unashamed of what it is, for me there is a strong tone of ownership of my sexuality and my love of sex in that word.
Words have so much power, they can remind us of people, places, experiences, both good and bad, and can often convey so much more than their dictionary definitions but I think that is never more true than when it comes to words for your vagina and vulva.
So what about you, what do you call yours? Which words do you love and which ones do you hate? What words were you taught to use by your parents, or maybe they never named that body part for you? If you are a parent how have you handled this with your children? Oh and if you decide to write your own post about this subject then you might like to think about linking it into the Pussy Pride Project. Even if you have already written a post for the project, if the piece is relevant please feel free to add it to the page.