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Letter: Learning how to say vagina

Yes, you read right, I said/typed vagina. What is the big deal? I am still wondering this myself. Last year when I was having dinner with my gals in DS, the word “vagina” created a fuss. One of the gals was saying in a whisper how her advisee in youth group had an infection in her “down there.” “Vagina?” I asked. The next thing I knew, people near us gasped and moved to other tables. My friends told me I cannot say the word out loud. Now, I understand if they say I should not say the c-word, or maybe the p-word. But as it turns out, I cannot even say “down-there,” “hoo-ha,” or “va-jay-jay,” because it is rude.

Michigan Rep. Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on the floor because she said “vagina” during a debate. Some major US TV networks banned tampon companies from using words like vagina and “down there” because “it’s a bit too frank.” Why can we not say it? We all came to the world through it, or at least, we spent months living near it. But oh no no no, you do not say it. Yet they can say penis and erection in Viagra ads; it is also okay to say “What a dick!” or “Have some balls!” Why do people react to the female genitalia like it is a dirty, disgusting word? Why do we associate balls with courage but pussy with weakness? Are sexist humans not enough? Do we have to create sexist words too? Why are most of us comfortable with talking about male genitalia but not female? It is just a part of the body, like the eyes, nose, nipples, butt etc. Just because not everyone has it should not make it gross.

The world will not change itself; we have to change ourselves first. Stop using the sexist words, stop whispering, just say it. It is not a dirty word; there is nothing shameful about it. Do not shame others for saying it either. Let us get real here: “vagina” keeps the world alive, if you know what I mean. So do not be shy. Say it! Vagina!

 This letter was submitted by Yann Ma. Contact Yann at

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