Please don't run away! Trust me - you want to hear this.
There is nothing wrong with the word vagina. There is nothing wrong with your actual vagina. It is a word that describes a part of a human body, much like "elbow" or "femur." It's okay to say "vagina." Presumably, not at a work meeting, or in the grocery store, but you know, in private conversations with friends and family or medical professionals. For the purposes of this blog post, however, I mean specifically when talking to your children.
You do not have to say any of following, (unless it makes you super happy, but this is not just about you):
Maybe I saw the "Vagina Monologues" one too many times in college. But if being a mom has taught me anything, it's that kids are REAL. They are so real because they haven't learned how to fit themselves into a tiny box yet. They haven't learned social decorum, shame, guilt, etc. that keeps us wanting to take up as little space as possible with our bodies and our thoughts. When I talk to my daughter, I use the right words.
I learned in an adolescent sexual development class that there is no specific age to start being real about our bodies or sexuality with children - just normalize and be matter of fact from day one. If you are embarrassed, they will be too. I say "vagina" and once my daughter is older and has a larger vocabulary I will help her differentiate from "vulva" and "vagina." I remember hearing it called different things as a kid and I was so confused. I will make sure she knows the correct words so she can tell me if she is in pain or if someone (including other kids) touch her inappropriately (or if she happens to be exploring herself in public places, where apparently such things are frowned upon).
I never want her to associate her body or sexuality with secrets and shame. I want her to feel comfortable setting boundaries. I want her to be proud of herself and have high self esteem. I want her to know what is normal and what is not so I can advocate for her, until she can advocate herself, whether it's in the doctor's office or in her personal relationships. The shroud of secrecy over our bodies and sex is what leads to bad relationships, lack of sexual agency, abuse, sexual assault, etc. It's time to end the madness!
This goes for boys too - they should understand what's appropriate, what consent is, and how to appropriately handle any strong sexual feelings or surprise boners without thinking there is something wrong with them. They should know that a girl's short skirt or spaghetti strap is not an invitation or a "yes."
I'd like to see rape culture, body shaming and slut shaming end in my lifetime... a girl can dream. In the mean time, let's just start with calling our body parts by the right names, 'kay?
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!