It’s interesting that the term was thrown out on Grey’s Anatomy not only to be funny (although it was), but because “broadcast standards” folks didn’t like the repeated uses of the word “vagina”:
Shonda Rhimes, the creator and executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” who brought the word into full public view, never intended to promote a euphemism or slang term for the female anatomy. Rather, she fought to use vagina in the script.
“I had written an episode during the second season of ‘Grey’s’ in which we used the word vagina a great many times (perhaps 11),” Ms. Rhimes wrote in an e-mail message. “Now, we’d once used the word penis 17 times in a single episode and no one blinked. But with vagina, the good folks at broadcast standards and practices blinked over and over and over. I think no one is comfortable experiencing the female anatomy out loud — which is a shame considering our anatomy is half the population.”
Which I think lends a lot of credence to the argument that we should just call human anatomy what it is (of course, what you’re staring at probably isn’t a vagina in the first place — it’s a vulva — but I suppose that’s beside the point).
Dr. Carol A. Livoti, a Manhattan obstetrician and gynecologist and an author of “Vaginas: An Owner’s Manual” (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2004), said vajayjay and other euphemisms and slang offend her and can render women incapable of explaining their symptoms to health professionals. “I think it’s terrible,” Dr. Livoti said. “It’s time to start calling anatomical organs by their anatomical name. We should be proud of our bodies.”
“It seems like a step backward,” she added.
I agree with her on the first point — that we should call organs by their anatomical names — but I don’t think it’s a step backward. As the article points out, I do think there was a need for a popular word for vulva “that is not clinical, crude, coy, misogynistic or descriptive of a vagina from a man’s point of view.” Vajajay isn’t insulting; it isn’t trying to be mysterious; and at least it sounds a bit like “vagina,” unlike most of the other vag-related euphemisms. While it would be ideal if everyone would just get over the fear of using medically accurate terminology, as it stands, a lot of women are uncomfortable referring to their “vaginas,” but further uncomfortable using other popular terms for “vulva” (despite my love of Eve Ensler, I just can’t get on the “cunt” train). So I can see how most genital-related terminology feels alienating for a lot of women. Even I don’t like the term “vulva.” (Not because I have any problem with vulvas, but because “vulva” reminds me of “uvula,” a word — and a body part — I think is pretty gross and weird, but that’s neither here nor there). So I can’t take issue with the popularization of a term many women feel comfortable with. And hey, it’s got Oprah talking about her vajayay on air — can’t complain about that.
As Joel McHale, the host of “The Soup,” put it: “It’s not derogatory. It’s not ‘You’re being such a vajayjay right now.’ It’s kind of a sweet thing.”
“Vajayjay,” he said, “is like your good buddy.”
And it is a good, good buddy.
Personally, I find sexual euphemisms hilarious. My favorite vag-related one is “giney-town” (“giney” has a j-sound at the beginning). And, obviously, I love “Jill-ing off” as a reference to female masturbation.
What are your favorite euphemisms for genitalia and sexual activity? And am I the only one who still refers to sex as “boning”?
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