Monday, March 16, 2009


... and No, Mom, you are not going to want to read this.

I made the decision after Phoebe was born that Geoff and I should refer to her "girl parts" by the proper medical names.

You know, vulva, vagina, labia, the whole shebang.

My infant daughter is too young (and not nearly sassy enough) to have a "vajayjay" and she isn't yet in college, so she isn't allowed to have a "cunt".

I say that because when I was in college I owned a book called "Cunt: A declaration of independence" that -- for a brief spell -- I read in front of my mother who said "Why do you own that?" and wouldn't talk to me for like a week after seeing the it.

And it wasn't a picture book or anything, I mean, jeez.

The thing is: Why should the word vagina make us uncomfortable? I'm sitting here doing Kegels just thinking about it.


Is it because we say "privates" instead of "vulva"? If we said "vulva" more maybe it wouldn't be such a weird word.

And I'm not some gung-ho "Vagina Monologues" supporter -- far from it, in fact. I don't think we need to "empower" female anatomy any more than calling it by its rightful name. I don't want to "celebrate" the vagina and talk about it in front of groups of people or wear jewelry shaped like labia (I am not making this up.)

I just want to call it what it is.

So why is it so incredibly difficult for me to do?

During bathtime I find myself going "Okay now we're going to wash your little arms, and your little arm pits and your little ... um ... we're just gonna wash this part right here that's sitting in the water, your privates, I mean, your bottom, I mean, your vulva (CRINGE)".


Geoff, I know, is uncomfortable with it. Because he said "Really?" and coughed uncomfortably when I told him that we should use proper medical terms. The man has a master's degree in biology, but would probably be more comfortable if we were talking about a kit fox or fairy shrimp instead of talking about our daughter.

One of my favorite exchanges in the movie "The Big Lebowski" is this one between The Dude and Maude Lebowski:

Maude Lebowski: Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski?

The Dude: Uh, is that what this is a picture of?

Maude Lebowski: In a sense, yes. My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.

The Dude: Oh yeah?

Maude Lebowski: Yes, they don't like hearing it and find it difficult to say whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson.

The Dude: Johnson?

I am wondering if it'll get easier the more we use the terms.

Anyone else using proper medical terms?

Or have books to recommend?

I don't want to have my daughter grow up to be like Eliot on Scrubs who -- even as a doctor -- can't say the proper terms.

And I'm just not hippie enough to refer to her vulva as a "yoni".


Annie said...

Can I call you Dolores? :)

robyn :) said...

lily announced to her class, in a discussion about washing hands after potty, "i wash my hands after i touch my 'gina!" (she often leaves off the first syllable of words...she knows it's va-gina) that's my girl! it is what it is... proper names are best, even if they do make one cringe. she also says a little prayer upon seeing people buy baby formula at kroger, "god, thank you for mommy's boobies!"