During a recent trip to Target, I managed to accomplish what I unintentionally do best: scare men. As I placed my items on the conveyer belt, the employee took a second to scan the words written across my chest. His eyes began to grow large as he tried to decode the hidden letters that were covered by my purse strap. He then brought his eyes back to mine and asked with genuine curiosity, “Excuse me miss, but what does your shirt say?” I responded, “The Vagina Monologues.”
His face immediately turned bright red and he apologized about four times until I could get a word in. I assured him that it was okay and he had nothing to feel bad about. I tried to explain to him that “The Vagina Monologues” is a well known play written by Eve Ensler, which is performed across the nation every single year. His face quickly morphed from embarrassment to downright confusion. He said, “I didn’t know you could call a play that.”
Needless to say, this interaction made me feel really uncomfortable and slightly sad for all of humanity. This gentleman felt embarrassed because he made me say the word “vagina” out loud. To him, “vagina” is a word that you dare not speak. Saying that “ugly” word is supposed to make me feel absolute mortification.
But the thing is, I did not feel one ounce of embarrassment when saying “vagina.” The vagina is a part of the female body; therefore it is a part of who I am.
Why am I taught to never speak about a body part that is instrumental to my existence? When people continue to forbid the word “vagina,” it only insinuates that having one is something to be ashamed of, ultimately contributing to a cycle of self-hatred.
So what is the fuss about hating this part of many women’s anatomy? After all, the vagina is capable of a plethora of beautiful experiences that are exclusive to the lucky owners of it. For instance, “There are 8000 nerve endings in the clitoris, dedicated exclusively to female pleasure. The penis only has 4000.” Additionally, “The vagina can expand by 200% when sexually aroused, kind of like a balloon.”
And let us not forget that you, I, and every other beautiful human being that we know were made with the help of a vagina.
The vagina is something that you should not be afraid to say you have, if you have one. This idea may be completely “progressive” and maybe even a bit terrifying, I completely get that.
So to coach you through your new and improved relationship with the vagina, here are some tips that will solidify that bond for the long term.
1. Get naked!
I would suggest doing this one with caution. Preferably when you are not in a public place (but if you are cool with doing it somewhere like a McDonalds bathroom, mad respect to you). If you have a vagina, or even if you don’t, taking a minute out of each week to strip down and take a look at yourself in the mirror can do wonders for learning to appreciate your body in its entirety.
2. Stop with the nicknames.
You know the names– coochie, cooter, kitty cat, clam, nana, vajayjay, or whatever else your grandma taught you say instead of “vagina.” Using cutesy words in replacement of the real deal essentially reinforces the idea that vaginas are an evil creation that can only be spoken of in code words. A ray of lightning will not strike you down if you utter the word “vagina.”
3. Talk about it.
When you have something to say about your vagina (or any vagina for that matter), just go ahead and say it.
The vagina is an amazing thing, so let us cool it with the hate and start welcoming it into our hearts. Can I get an amen?
Written by Daniela Attia
Cross-posted with permission from UCLA’s FEM Magazine