Quick quiz for all of you reading this…what’s wrong with the following sentences?
- I got razor burn from shaving my vagina.
- My friend suggested that all of her bridesmaids bedazzle their vaginas for the wedding.
- I used new detergent to wash my underwear and now my vagina itches.
The answer? All of the situations above apply to vulvas, not vaginas. Somehow, the word “vagina” has found itself being used to refer to all of the territory surrounding the vaginal opening.
I’m sure some (or possibly many) of you are reading this and rolling your eyes, wondering why this matters. After all, you knew what those sentences meant to say, right? What’s the big deal? First of all, it matters because I am a cranky old person who believes in using correct grammar, vocabulary and punctuation. 1 You wouldn’t refer to your entire arm as your elbow, would you? Exactly. There are a lot of good reasons to make sure you’re using the right word.
But more importantly, this misuse of the word “vagina” bugs me because it’s symptomatic of our lousy sex education system. Most kids are taught about the parts of their genitalia that pertain to menstruation and procreation, and the rest is left shrouded in mystery. So the vulva, labia and clitoris are left on the sidelines while the vagina gets the spotlight.
Fortunately, I’m not the only one to feel this way. My good buddy Dizzygirl went out and purchased the domain thatsnotavagina.com, and we started conspiring to educate the world about this vocabulary deficiency. We are on a crusade to make “vulva” a household name, to give people the right words for their anatomy, and hopefully to make them chuckle along the way.
We’d appreciate it if you’d take the time to pop on over to That’s Not a Vagina and let us know what you think. It’s a work in progress, so suggestions are welcomed. We also have a contact form if you want to report an instance of vagina misuse or suggest a topic for a post. Dizzy and I already have found quite a bit on our own, but we could definitely use some help in our quest!
- Yes, even when texting. Phones have keyboards and predictive text now, it’s not that hard. Also, get off my lawn, you whippersnappers! ↩