I had the awesome fortune to meet Luvvie Ajaji and Franchesca Ramsey recently.
I was at a book signing event for Franchesca Ramsey’s new book, Well, That Escalated Quickly. It was such an amazing time because, within the event, Luvvie interviewed Franchesca. They talked about the book and Franchesca’s journey as an “accidental activist.” I highly recommend her book, by the way. (And Luvvie’s book, I’m Judging You. Both are very much worth the read.)
At the end of the event, there was a question/answer period.
I asked these awesome content creators a very important question. Paraphrasing:
Me: You ladies are dope, and I couldn’t find my bobby pins so don’t judge me. Anyway, I’m a gynecologist who creates a lot of content on a lot of different platforms. While people like my stuff and visit my media spaces, they don’t share it very often. Women don’t share Gyne content. How do you get women to share information that is good and valuable but a little uncomfortable for some.
They shared something really important. They said,
People don’t like the word Vagina.
Is that so? A word I use so many times per day I can’t even count? An organ that is present in half of the population, and sought after by the other half (almost)? This truth was hard for me to adopt. It’s true though. There is an absolute side-eye by some when I tell them that I am a gynecologist. I know their mind immediately goes to,
Does that mean you touch vaginas all day?
They don’t say it, but I know they think it. And, yes. I, with gloves and a lot of handwashing, touch vaginas all day. They need me. I am like a dentist for the crotch. You don’t look forward to seeing me, but if you don’t you’ll be in trouble.
I think a few things are important for me to discuss.
The word vagina IS IMPORTANT to use early on, even as children.
Children with a better understanding of proper anatomic terminology are often at lower risk for child abuse. Pet names be damned. If someone tells my kid to touch their penis or vagina or tries to touch theirs, they know what those parts are and that that is not acceptable. Of course protection against sexual predators is greater than just teaching proper nomenclature(fancy word for names), but it’s important none the less.
Alas, I won’t fight the social media share culture. Spreading health information won’t be stifled by people’s aversions to the V-word. What I teach my children is going to sometimes be different than what I post. Do as I say, not as I do, lol.
I propose the following alternate names for the vagina. You may see me periodically using these terms going forward when I release new blog posts and music videos etc.
My book, released December 2017 was entitled It Smells Just Like Popcorn. It is an A to Z (though the title says A to V ’cause that made me chuckle) guide to all things women’s health. What’s cuter for vagina than a Popcorn Kernel.