The Vagina Dialogue
ELLE Singapore|Aug 2018

We’ve had pussyhats at the Women’s March and Instagram accounts dedicated to “snatch” lookalikes, but 22 years after The Vagina Monologues, it’s time we started talking openly about the V-word, say Nina Brochmann and Ellen Stokken Dahl.

Every language has its euphemisms for the female genitals. Nicknames range from “pussy” to “cookie jar”, “flower”, “vag” and “snatch”’. But euphemisms may be getting in the way of the real deal and contributing to the many myths that surround the female reproductive organs.

When Eve Ensler wrote the seminal play The Vagina Monologues in 1996, CNN did a 10-minute report on it and the presenters couldn’t bring themselves to say the V-word once. Twenty-two years later, and something is still amiss.

A recent survey by Thinx, a revolutionary company that makes period-proof underwear, found that one in three women feel uncomfortable even using the term “vagina” around others. But not only are women wary of talking about their bits, they’re not even sure of the proper name.

“Vulva” may not be the world’s most commonly used word but, if you’re a woman, that’s the anatomical name for the bit between your legs. The vagina refers exclusively to the passageway used for giving birth or having vaginal sex, which excludes the centre of female pleasure and sexuality, the clitoris. And we wouldn’t want to do that.

V ARE THE WORD

The fact that the V-word is rarely discussed openly shouldn’t come as a surprise. Excusing our bodies and our most basic female functions is something we practise from a young age. We hide tampons up our sleeves as we sneak off to the toilet, and say no to oral sex because we’re scared our own smell is off-putting.

For this to change, we need to treat our reproductive organs for what they are – actual body parts that influence our lives and futures and deserve to be called by their proper names. It is finally time to scrap the euphemisms, bust the myths and start having honest, open conversations about our vaginas.

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