by Corrie Bradley
Having a company focused on womxns’ intimate areas has been a lot of things. It has been hugely educational, eye-opening to connect with new communities, but mostly it’s been a lot of fun. Corrie and I have had the wonderful opportunity to talk with so many womxn about what I’ll refer to as a “vagina”, which has been both empowering and entertaining.
And yet… it's still taboo to discuss. We have been raised and conditioned to be shy about the fact that we have a vagina, constantly dancing around the topic to avoid any discomfort for ourselves or others. It's been made to feel uncomfortable to talk about, tricky to acknowledge, and - my goodness - don’t ever let anyone see it!
Which brings me to my point today: we literally don't even know what to call it. How are we supposed to feel empowered, comfortable, and confident in our bodies if we aren't even given the space to name and claim it?
At Lark, this has been the topic of conversation for hours, maybe even days.
Technically, the vagina is the internal canal between the vulva and the cervix. Have we moved towards using slightly friendlier, albeit slightly less anatomically-accurate words because “vulva” is a bit tricky to say? Are we intimidated by it? This inaccuracy has drawbacks, and we feel a sinking reminder in the back of our minds that we’re not being completely authentic, mislabeled by societal pressures.
This is important. We, as a collective group of womxn, need to be able to talk about our vaginas and not wince when we say a word that represents our sacred power.
So, let’s choose one!
Which word feels true to you? Do you feel a connection to a term? Is there a word that we can collectively agree on?
Below is a list of some favorites, with some personal commentary and complaints.
Pussy: This feels a bit political, which is fine by me, but also reminds me of a cat… which is less of a positive.
Vajayjay: Apparently coined by Oprah, this one is a lot of fun (unless used in a serious context or conversation, when it may inhibit credibility).
Vulva: While technically correct, it personally pains me to use this term. Why the lack of enjoyment? If this is another societal boundary to break down, maybe the best remedy is to begin saying vulva with gusto and shouting it from the rooftops!
Intimate area: This has the mildly formal air of something whispered in low, furtive tones by a grandma or someone who wishes to keep this whole area hush-hush.
Vagine: Like vagina... but with a French accent? Does this make us sound cultured and well-traveled? While we may have first heard this in “Borat”, there is something slightly endearing about it.
Cunt: While we’re supportive of those who want to reclaim this term or “take it back”, we struggle to call this magical body part by a name that has been utilized in such negative and derogatory ways.
Yoni: This Hindu word is a favorite in hippie circles. Could we help it break into mainstream lexicon?
Bikini: Okay fine, nobody says this, except my friend’s daughter who hasn’t fully grasped the anatomical differences between a bikini and the vulva.
This list is in no way comprehensive - there are literally thousands of other words out there! Some pretty funny, some pretty offensive, some just plain confusing.
Let’s open this up for discussion! Please vote, invent, let your voice be heard!
What’s your favorite word or term?
Header image: "Lake George Reflection", 1922 by Georgia O'Keeffe
Lower image: "Flower of Life II", 1925, 1918 by Georgia O'Keeffe