Why is the world afraid of the word “vagina?” It’s not a word that is traditionally heard in polite conversation unless the speaker is trying to be politically correct. When I was fifteen, I was fully aware of my vagina and not afraid to talk about it. In the shadows of George W. Bush’s election, I remember arguing in government class, as we discussed his policies on abortion, that “it’s my vagina and I’ll be damned if some man tells me what to do with it!” My teacher didn't correct my use of “damned” in his classroom. No. He told me “not to use the word vagina.” Well what else am I supposed to call it?
Pussy? Twat? Coochie? Cooter? Vajayjay? Pookie? Powder box? Vaj?
Uh no. I’m going to call it “vagina” because that’s what it is.
If that is what it is, then why does the word “vagina” make people uncomfortable? I think it is very simple. People are uncomfortable with women using the word “vagina” because it implies that she is comfortable with her sexuality. I don’t think there is anything that makes a male high school teacher more uncomfortable then one of his female students being openly comfortable with her sexuality. I wonder if my teacher would have objected to the boys in my class talking about their penises?
The fact is that “vagina” is just a word that describes a beautiful and mysterious part of the female body. Eve Ensler says in her monologue that she is “worried” about vaginas (The Vagina Monologues 1994). She is worried about “what we call them and what we don’t call them.” I understand why she is worried. When people refer to the vagina as a “pussy,” “twat,” “coochie,” “cooter,” or “vajayjay” they take away from the beauty, mystery and power that is embedded in female sexuality. When a woman uses the word “vagina” it suggest that she is comfortable with her sexuality and willing to talk about it in public. A woman who is willing to talk about her sexuality and vagina in public is a woman to be feared; it means she is sexually liberated. There is nothing more threatening to a patriarchal society then sexually liberated women.
I ask you to stand up for your vagina this V-Day (February 14th). I ask you to adopt the belief that “V” is for “vagina!” Embrace the beauty and power of our sex that vaginas represent. They really are a beautiful thing. Vaginas bring new life into the world. They provide pleasure and comfort.
Eve Ensler believed in the beauty and power of vaginas. She founded the grassroot organization V-Day on Valentine’s Day in 1998. To stop sexual violence against women and girls, she and other women in NYC, put on a production of The Vagina Monologues that raised $250,000. Now, after 15 years, V-Day has grown to hold over 5,800 events annually that allow women to share their experiences, raise consciousness, educate and change social attitudes about violence towards women and girls.
In February 2012, V-Day launched a new campaign called ONE BILLION RISING, which called for organizers and activists to “walk out, dance, rise up and demand,” a stop to violence against women and girls on February 14th 2013. The purpose of the movement is to create a social revolution that changes the social perspectives of violence against women. One Billion Rising is a “global strike…an invitation to dance…a call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends…an act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers…a refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given…a new time and a new way of being.” (http://www.onebillionrising.org/).
Tomorrow (February 14th 2013) there will be a local V-Day event hosted by HAVEN and sponsored by Oakland/Macomb NOW. Celebrate V-Day (and your vagina) as we RISE to stop violence against women in society by joining the dance party from 12-2pm at HAVEN (30400 Telegraph Rd Bingham Farms, MI).
Katie Curran, Oakland/Macomb NOW Communications Chair