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Vagina Vagina Vagina (VAGINA!)

Lissa Rankin's picture

Imagine this. You’re standing in front of 2,400 women. You lean over so you’re talking deep and low right into the mic and you say, “Vagina. Vagina. Say it with me now -- Vagina” and 2,400 women scream “VAGINA!” You talk about “front bottoms” and “wee wees” and you give people permission to name their parts and to own what it means to be female. You talk about the fabulous U by Kotex campaign that pokes fun at feminine hygiene ads that completely ignore the fact that tampons are about periods -- and vaginas -- and encourages women to get real, to own it, and to tell it like it really is. By the time you lead the chorus in a resounding “VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA,” estrogen is swirling all around and your mission is accomplished.

True story.

Yes, that happened to me -- and yes, it was the highlight of my BlogHer 2010 experience.

Bless his heart, Jason Mayo came onstage after me. The last words I spoke before he came up to the mic were “Vagina. Vagina. Vagina” with the whole BlogHer audience chanting with me. And then Jason came onstage as the token male blogger to read his gorgeous post "Valentine’s Day Is a Greedy Whore". And the first words that came out of his mouth were, “My penis is feeling a little confused right now.” I think I love him for being brave enough to go on -- and to rock his authentic self amidst a sea of ovaries. Kudos to you, Jason. You’re my new hero. (Vagina vagina vagina -- penis.)

At the parties afterwards, women kept approaching me, thanking me for giving them permission to give voice to such a closeted word. Some snuck up behind me, whispered “vagina” in my ear, and wandered off before I even noticed who had said it. Some watercolored the words Vagina Vagina Vagina on canvas for a group painting in the art auction room. Someone else wrote it in a blurb of quotes representing what we were saying there at BlogHer. When I got into a crowded elevator, the whole elevator erupted into a chorus of “VAGINA!”

Others approached me to ask whether I think it’s okay to call our girly parts something less clinical. One said, “I prefer to call it ‘Wally and the Beave.’” Another loves “coochie.” Another calls hers “Sassy.” One BlogHer attendee Lee Ann Hill even wrote about it on her blog in a post called Your Vagina is My Diabetic.

In a poll of the Owning Pink community, 34% of you like calling it “va jay jay”, 26% prefer “coochie”, and 16% like “lady business”, while “na na”, “beaver”, “goodies”, and “cha cha” trail behind.

Again, I don’t give a flip what you call it. As long as you call it something. Just because I’m a doctor doesn’t mean I think you have to use clinical terms. In fact, clinical terms can be confusing. Many call the female genitalia “vagina” when in fact, the vagina only represents the internal part, the part you can’t even see. “Vulva” is more accurate (or, as my daughter calls it, “Volvo”) but it’s not all-inclusive. The reason I said “Vagina Vagina Vagina” is because we were talking about tampons -- and vaginas are where the tampons go. But what if you’re talking about the whole thing? What do you call it in clinical terms?

Guys have it easier.

Sure, they have internal junk. There’s the prostate, the vas deferens. There’s external stuff that gets less attention (the scrotum, the testes). But the penis gets the glory. And for the most part, that’s where the action happens. So naming it is easier. When it comes to talking about male genitalia, “penis” pretty much works.

But what about women? It’s not so easy. There is no single word that covers the whole thing. I mean, seriously, “female genitalia” just isn’t gonna cut it. So if that means you call your girl parts “hooha” or “va jay jay” or “coochie” or “muff”, I don’t give a flip, as long as you’re TALKING about it! (And I hope to get us talking about it a lot more with the release of What's Up Down There? next month! Just sayin'.)

Just OWN it. It’s a part of you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s something to celebrate. The vagina is the place of creation, the giver of life, the palace of pleasure, the place of potential. Call it what you will. Just call it.

Because I started this conversation, U by Kotex sponsored the Owning Pink team to go to the BlogHer conference. Mind you -- I didn’t write about them because they paid me to. I wrote about them because I believe in the Get Real campaign they’re launching to get women talking. I am proud to be aligned with them and I am grateful for their sponsorship.

Vagina vagina vagina,

This blog, and the book on which it is based, is a complement to - not a substitute for - professional advice and intervention, and is not intended to replace the advice of a gynecologist or medical professional, who should be consulted about any health care issues that may affect the individual reader. The information contained in this book is the product of observations made by the author in her practice, as well as her review of relevant literature in her field of expertise. The literature at times reflects conflicting opinions and conclusions. The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author and are not intended to reflect the views of any group or organization with whom the author is affiliated.


Jason's picture

P & V

How fun to step out of the mold and shout self expressed words.

Congratulations Lissa and to you too Jason!

Jason's picture

Penis Vagina

How fun to step out of the mold and shout self expressed words.

Congratulations Lissa and to you too Jason!

Lissa Rankin's picture


It was such a pleasure to be there! Great to know you too!

Hello Ladies's picture

Thank you

Thank you for sharing that powerful post at BlogHer. It was such a pleasure meeting you.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Penis Power indeed!

You couldn't have been a more perfect token male at BlogHer. Your sisters just loved you! So glad to have some testosterone to balance out all that estrogen.
Penis penis penis,

Out-Numbered's picture

Fond memories of your Vagina...

The feeling is mutual my friend. Glad to know you!!! See you in October. PENIS POWER!!!

Lissa Rankin's picture


I love it! Petunia! It's a perfect word. Like I said- call it whatever works! Just name her. Talk about her. Take her out of the closet. And OWN your pretty pink petunia!

tara - scoutie girl's picture

Thank you!

As the other ladies said, it was such a privilege to hear you speak. Thanks for your empowering words!

Holley's picture


I have four daughters....from 6 to pushing 15. They are all
comfortable using the term, vagina.

We wanted to come up with a term that they're brothers didn't know and that described what a beautiful thing it
could be. I didn't want them to grow up hating 'down there'

Well, we came up with the name, Petunia. A petunia, like the beautiful blooming flower.
It has fit perfectly. All the beautiful phases a flower goes through, the vagina goes through.

All the boys know we use that term now, it has also opened the conversations with them. They are comfortable with the term vagina.

What started out as a fun word, has grown to mean, many things.


Maressa's picture


I echo Dana's sentiment. I was honored to be there, to watch you read the post and cheer you on. Thank you so much again for inviting me as your guest! Also, I think it is hilarious and adorable that Siena calls it her Volvo. hahahaha

Dana Theus's picture

Go Girl!

It was a privilege to be there and feel the energy of all those women's voices. Can't wait to see where this goes!


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