10.30.2007  BY EM & LO
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For two women who've been writing about sex for almost a decade, we have a pretty poor vocabulary when it comes to the vagina. We've always hated "pussy"--it rankles us like "scalp" and "moist." In a pinch, we'll say "puss," and we've been known to use "veegee," but nothing's ever felt quite right. And as for the C-word--well, clearly we can't even bring ourselves to write it out. Which is why we couldn't be happier about all the good sense that poured forth from the New York Times Style section this past weekend. The article traces how the show Grey's Anatomy recently launched the word vajayjay into mainstream usage (accidentally, as it happened: the writers wanted to use plain old vagina but the standards and practices execs objected, feeling the word had been overused).

Even Oprah has adopted it as her very own and it seems like the whole country is talking about the vagina vocabulary vacuum. According to the paper of record: "What this really demonstrates, say some linguists, is that there was a vacuum in popular discourse, a need for a word for female genitalia that is not clinical, crude, coy, misogynistic or descriptive of a vagina from a man's point of view." Yes, we couldn't believe our eyes either. The Times also helpfully informs us that there have been at least 1,200 terms for the vagina in the history of the English language. More than a thousand and not a single one that most women feel comfortable saying amongst friends or--more importantly--during dirty talk.
While we don't think vajayjay is really up to the latter task, at least it's got us all talking about the, er, vag...you know. And for more platonic usage, at least, it's got a nice to ring to it. Joel McHale, host of The Soup, put it this way: "It's not derogatory. It's not 'You're being such a vajayjay right now.' It's kind of a sweet thing. Vajayjay is like your good buddy." Even Gloria Steinem weighed in on the issue, telling the Times: "I'm hoping that the use of this new word is part of the objection to only saying vagina since it doesn't include all of women's genitalia, for instance the clitoris, in the way that vulva does." Perhaps if we pool our resources we can come up with a few more vajayjay-like terms. So...what do you call it amongst friends? And what do you call it in bed when you want to be a bit less gynecological about things?


1 Comments

Anna said:

I think the most recent addition has been Borats version, "vagine" - when said in the accent, it seems to make this a little less serious and private.

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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City.

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