Years ago, I worked at a school with a veterinary technician program.  One day, an instructor and I were comparing crazy student stories.  She told me about a student in her anatomy & physiology class.  The class discussion turned to the differences between female and male genitalia.  Someone mentioned the fact that female mammals have three “holes”, while males only have two.  “Wait, so what’s the third hole for?!”  The class then proceeded to inform this twenty-something-year-old woman that she did not, in fact, pee and menstruate out of the same place on her body.  Had she never bothered to look at herself, we wondered?  And which holes did she know about, and which one had gone unnoticed all these years?  How could someone know so little about their own body?


When Phaedra was a toddler, I found myself fumbling to find the right words to talk about bodily functions and their corresponding body parts. “Bum” or “butt” worked okay for that area, but I was at a loss over what to call that other important part.  “Pee pee” seemed okay, but that’s what we called urine, so that was too confusing.  I tried not calling it anything at all, which really didn’t work because anyone who has ever attempted to potty-train a child knows it involves looooooong, involved conversations and explanations regarding what you would like each body part to do, and when and where you would like it to perform that function (conversations that make you feel like you’re accomplishing something, but mean exactly dick to your kids).  I finally realized that trying to come up with a new name for something that already has a fucking name is a complete waste of time.

So, my daughters don’t have hoo-hoos or vajayjays or pee-pees or any other ridiculous word with a repeating syllable in it.  They were born with vaginas, and they are fully aware of that fact.  And, much to his dismay, their father is fully aware of it as well.  Aside from all the feminist “be proud of  your vagina!” discourse that I would love to say ultimately helped me come to this conclusion regarding the nomenclature of my daughters’ genitalia, I must admit that it delights me to no end when my oldest daughter (who still has a hard time pronouncing the “v” sound) complains to my husband about how her BUHGINA itches, or how she really has to go potty and her BUHGINA just can’t hold it any longer.

(Let me just take a special time-out here to point out that yes, I understand that my daughters don’t technically pee from their vaginas.  One day I’ll give my daughters a more detailed explanation of how that area works, but right now I’m not comfortable telling my five-year-old that actually her vagina is where blood and babies come out, and penises and/or dildos go into.  But hey, different strokes, AMIRITE?!?!)

Crazy Stupid Love Red Carpet Premiere Sydney (Image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

That’s what she…never mind.

I know I’ve said this a couple of times before, but we’re raising future women, you guys.  We need to get these women ready to go out into the world and reject the people and ideas floating around in our culture that tells them they are inferior/ugly/less than/awkward/dumb/shameful simply because they are women.  I don’t want my daughters believing there’s something wrong or taboo about the word “vagina”.  That’s what it’s called.  I really believe the only reason women have grown accustomed to using alternate words for that part of their body is because on some level, society has taught them to be embarrassed by it.  Am I 100% comfortable saying the word “vagina”?  No, honestly, I’m not.  I think it’s a weird word, and I cringe the tiniest bit every time I use it.  But I suck it up and use it without batting an eye when I talk to my girls, because I want them to get the message that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to their perfectly normal female body.  Every single body part she possesses is valid and important and worthy of respect.

Although seriously, kids, it would be nice if I didn’t have to actually see your vaginas quite as often as I do.

This entry was posted in Controlled vocabulary, girls, keep 'em off the pole, there's a dirty joke to be made here somewhere. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to V-Day

  1. I agree wholeheartedly… EXCEPT- I will never, ever use that OTHER V-word. Ewwwww.

    • Other “v” word…vacillating? Voracious? Villanova? I’m not real good at word games, surprisingly.

      • Arnebya says:

        Vacation? Vaccination? Vexing? Variance? Hmmm none of those is ewwwww inducing, Jenn; give us a clue! Verily? No. Vacancy? Vehicular? Vagrant? Vagabond? Vocabulary? HELP USSSSSSSSSS JEN

        I said vagina to my girls from day one (although sometimes, we say cooch because it’s ridiculous). I couldn’t get into the hoo ha or stuff or special place or privates or delicate flower. And we too have had those times when out alone with the girls when younger, they told daddy their vaginas had issues: 1) oldest girl at about 4 yelling in Safeway, “Daddy, my vagina feels hot.”; 2) middle girl at about the same age in Target saying, “Daddy, I think there’s something in my vagina.” (She’s also the one who asked why the man lady bagging groceries had a manstache.) Good thing I wasn’t with him during these occurrences because I can assure you I’d have been of NO assistance as I am still giggling.

  2. I fully intended on teaching my daughter to use the term vulva, but it got too complicated since no one else does. So…we’re a vagina house.

    I have a boy and a girl, so around here there is not only much conversation, but much comparison. We’re pretty relaxed about all of it, but my husband has enacted a very strict “No Naked Penises or Vaginas on the Furniture” rule. So if you come to my house, it’s safe to sit on the couch.

  3. Melissa says:

    My toddler has her “gina” and we talk about it all.the.freaking.time. She potty trained early and talked early, and that’s kind of a dangerous combination for a really social kid who likes to talk to everyone.

  4. monica says:

    we’re a vagina house, too. although none of them could say it at the beginning so it’s gone down in history as “the china.”

  5. alana joerin says:

    we are the exact opposite in our house! ha! since I am the only one out of 6 who even has the fore mentioned body part (ha), vagina is not a word used in our home! I have had to pull out sketched medical diagrams to prove to my 3 year old that I do not have balls, because I refused to show him my “privacy” 🙂

  6. Vulva! Vulva! When my toddler boy points to me in the bathroom and asks where my penis is, I tell him I have a vagina but that he is seeing my vulva.

    “Vulva” is a MUCH more difficult word to say than “vagina,” by a long shot, but I don’t want to raise kids who think that the entire “ladyland” is a vagina.

    Also, I would love to use the bathroom alone sometime.

  7. Nicole Leigh Shaw says:

    If we haven’t already, we will chat about my Vagina Offensive.

    Love this.

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