These days, we are at a strange place when it comes to women and sexuality. In a world where you can find just about anything at just the click of a button, the anatomical word for a woman’s genitalia is still somehow considered impolite or offensive. In fact, in 2012, Michigan state representative Lisa Brown was actually prohibited from speaking from the House floor because her speech included the word “vagina”. It is becoming more and more common to hear stories of teachers being punished for using the word in health class. “Vagina” is almost always censored on TV and even on some websites. What gives?
Well, the reason for this is less about the word and more about what it represents. Though “vagina” is a technical, medical term, it refers to the female sex organ and we all know that female sexuality is very scary stuff! This aversion to the word itself is the result of a culture of shaming women and their bodies because female sexuality makes people uncomfortable. This discomfort is not exclusive to men, as many women also feel uncomfortable with their own sexuality. This is evidenced by the tendency to avoid the word “vagina” and use nicknames instead such as “vajayjay”, “nether regions”, “hoo-hah” or just simply “vag”.
The truth is, this constant shaming and avoiding of the topic is actually really damaging for women and girls alike. Studies show that close to forty percent of women never discuss their vaginal health, even with friends or a doctor, and fifty percent of women wonder if their vagina looks “normal”. The appearance of vaginas actually varies widely among women, just like every other body part, yet teenage girls are increasingly requesting plastic surgeries on their labia so that they can conform to what they think is the norm.
We at VFemina know that there is no shame in women’s sexuality. It is something that should be able to be discussed honestly and openly without fear of judgement. However, the first step is being able to name what you are afraid of. So enough with the nicknames, and let’s all say VAGINA!