I’m afraid the time has come – I’m going to talk about genitals. Or rather, I’m going to sound silly while talking about genitals.
I’ve been pondering this blog post for a while. E likes to know what her body parts are called and I must say, I’ve been trying to work out if I am more glad that she’s a girl because she might not get too in depth for a while or sorry that she’s a girl because at least the word ‘willy’ is easy to deal with.
We talk about her bottom or her bum, and she is very fond of pointing to her nipples. So far so good. But what should we call her genitals?
I must confess, I don’t really have a preferred name for mine. There are a whole range of names – from the profane through the clinical to the twee, and I don’t like any of them. I even had a female doctor once call them “down there” with a wave of her hand so this is clearly not just my problem.
Earlier this year there was a brief hoo-haa (another favoured term for some, I believe) over a Swedish children’s television programme which depicted cartoon versions of smiling dancing genitals, called Willy and Twinkle. I rather liked it – the song was celebrating differences and was hilariously bad but rather sweet. (You can watch it here.) But again, Twinkle? Not keen.
Slang is out – women’s parts are either porno (pussy), too rude (c*%^) or icky (lady garden). All of them either degrade or objectify women or they shy away and feel prudish. Any seasoned feminist will tell you this is a result of regarding women as second class citizens and we either need to reclaim these words from the porn and profane way they’re used (easier said than done) or, perhaps better, come up with something else.
And so I turn to clinical names, which I confess I hate. Vagina anyone? The only time it sounds good is when Maude Lebowski talks about it. Vulva? Again all I have is a modern cultural reference – Friends this time.
But then I read this article about the effects of teaching children properly about their bodies and how it can help protect them against abuse. And I also think that beyond abuse, if I want E to have a healthy attitude to her body and self image then the very least I can do is be able to talk to her about it and not feel silly. So vagina it is. At least this way I get to pretend to be Maude for a while. And who wouldn’t want that?