Hi.

Mum from Bow, London.  Fan of food, my kids, coffee, cheese & gin.  Not necessarily in that order.

Why is it so hard to label a girl's genitals? And also, to find an appropriate title for this piece...

Why is it so hard to label a girl's genitals? And also, to find an appropriate title for this piece...

A fanny? A foo?  Your bits?  What they hell do we tell our daughters their private parts are called?  I am a mum of boys, and have explained that they have a willy, which is also called a penis, and that women aren’t the same.  My son proudly tells me “I have a willy Mummy, and YOU don’t.”  Awkwardly, he’s also said this on the bus.  I don’t have daughters, so haven’t had to work out whether vagina and vulva are too scientific for a toddler, or just too ugly so far as words go.  But surely they are the right words to use?  Surely calling it a front bottom is a massive insult to a vagina, an area that can give great pleasure, birth a baby and then spring (ahem, spring isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean) back to normal.  Please, please don’t tell your daughter that she has two bottoms.  Your fanjo wins over an arsehole in body part top trumps.

If you hurt your arm, you go and see a doctor.  You tell them your arm is sore, and there is no confusion over where you are in pain.  If your ladygarden twinges and you haven’t been taught where the vulva ends and the vagina begins, how can you possibly ask for help in an effective manner?  On a serious note, if you are abused, how can you accurately report your abuser when you cannot identify, in words, where you have been touched.  I've read of abuse that has continued because accusations of someone touching her "bunny" were ignored.  We are doing our young women a disservice.  Surely by not naming it, we shroud it in mystery when we should be celebrating its awesomeness.  Mind you, I’m guilty of it too – I’ve already used ladygarden and fanjo in this article, and I’m cringing at my parents seeing the headline of this piece. 

So many words exist, but some are sexual, crude, rude or gross.  They had this problem in Sweden, so they coined a new word for it.  In 2000 they came up with snippa as a female equivalent to snopp and it entered the dictionary six years later.  We have generally accepted casual words for other parts of the body - everyone knows where your tummy is.  Additionally, every year we add new words to the Oxford Engligh Dictionary.  Recent additions include closable, ginge and woke, so it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a new descriptor, something that matches the informality of willy and tummy.  Answers on a postcard please.  Til then, I’m sticking to the words that work, vagina and vulva, and my sons will grow up thinking it’s normal – as of course it should be.  But please, please kids - don’t say vulva on the bus. 

The Hotbed Collective - bringing sexual debate to the fore

The Hotbed Collective - bringing sexual debate to the fore

How to give birth.  (Start by shutting your ears.)

How to give birth. (Start by shutting your ears.)