ovaries week

Why Is It So Hard to Find a Good Word for Your Vagina?

Photo: Duncan Usher/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Where is the casual word for vagina that falls somewhere between childish nonsense and clinical terminology? Most contemporary terms are unacceptable to any discerning vagina-owner. Pussy is too porny; vajayjay is preposterous; cunt remains obscene.

This whole realm of slang tends to be just as abysmal. Names like hole or box or cockpit describe something that exists to be filled, and that’s some bullshit that has been bullshit since 1465 (with the noted use of the word socket). A similar, but different, crock of nonsense is the euphemism that describes a vagina as a baby vehicle, like jaws of life. Bits and parts imply something that’s incomplete but also severed, which is dumb or scary or both. The addition of lady and naughty to the front of these is just embarrassing.

People have been far better about naming dude genitalia. For example, dick is great. It’s neutral. It’s not loaded, it’s not weird or corny or goofy. It is, sometimes, a stand-in for someone who is a jerk, but whatever, men can deal. There are no words for the female reproductive system that have the ease of dick. Snatch almost works but has an unfortunate association with thievery and a 2000 Brad Pitt film of curious accents. In Chewed Up, Louis C.K. said that even vagina seemed too harsh to describe a vagina; he recommended the sound of a piccolo. Our lack of a good term is not for lack of trying. 

There isn’t some nickname, just waiting for us, that we haven’t realized yet. I wish I could write to you and say, “Friends: I’ve found it. It’s tift. It’s our term forevermore. Use it with relish and love and abandon.” But language doesn’t work like that, and it turns out tift is a county in Georgia and an archaic word meaning to arrange stuff in an orderly fashion.

So, tift is out, and what are we left with?

In the absence of an easy, neutral word, what about diving full-force into adventurous nicknames — actively weird descriptions of your choosing? Start with the annals of history. People have been talking about and having vaginas for at least centuries. Many old terms aren’t even words anymore but seem nonetheless plausible as vagina synonyms. A particular favorite invention since the dawn of time is twitchet from 1926. What does it mean? Who knows, but isn’t it fun? 

Perhaps the best use of your time and the greatest respect to your Individual Vagina, which deserves its own special sobriquet, is the route of invention. But would we leave you alone in a dark cave of mysterious life-giving powers? Of course not. Here are some guidelines for vagina-nickname development:

- Cardinal South, like nether areas and downtown. There is a general ambiguity to vague directions like these that could confuse people in fun ways.

Shape Descriptor, like gravy boat.

- Geographical Features or Landmarks, like Grand Canyon or Flatbush Avenue. Playing with scale is always humorous.

- The Dramatically Feminine and Mystical, like goddess of whatever or high priestess of whatever or Mother of Dragons. This is useful for when one is passive-aggressively annoyed at one’s enchantress of the period that arrives three days early.

Slightly Varied Sound Repetition, vajayjay likely prompted anything in subtly altered repetition to sound like a hooha. Once, someone on The L Word called a vagina a whiff-waff, which was an old way to describe ping-pong but not an old way to describe a vagina, but the meaning was not lost.

- Popular Culture, like the Pink Panther or the Chamber of Secrets or Beast of the Southern Wild.

Remember, when describing your ­­­____ the world is your oyster, and may you never have to describe your vagina as an oyster.

Why Is It Hard to Find a Good Term for Vaginas?