You Say Vagina, I Say Shut Up

Posted by on February 6, 2007

I’ve read several posts this past week referencing “the big talk”. You know, the talk about the facts-of-life stuff that most parents are dreading because of the sheer awkwardness of it all.

Hell, I still haven’t told my daughter the right names for her female body parts. Well, no. That’s not entirely true. I did tell her. Once. But I don’t refer to them by their proper names in everyday conversation. Because? It’s just…ewww.

Mature, aren’t I?

And anyway, most people call the outer part of the female crotch area a vagina and that’s actually not anatomically accurate. So that brings us to “labia.” Do people actually call it a labia? Not so much. So what do I do? Tell her the not-as-correct name? Or the one nobody uses? Or do I have to use both??? Cripey! Is it any wonder I don’t want to deal with this stuff?

I also have a son which presents a whole other host of things we will need to address and for some reason, it almost seems like it will be easier but seriously, I hope to never find myself in this position (see video).

Poor Ricky…


  • For some reason, I don’t think that was the way I’d react to walking into MY son’s room. I think I’d run out screaming, “I can’t see, I CAN’T SEE!!” It’s so funny about terminology. I have no problem telling my boys they have a penis. Which of course at this age they laugh and repeat it a hundred times a day. But I just can’t tell my daughter she has a vagina. I mean I have, but I have to force the formation of the word. Not that this is better, well it is for me because it sounds more comical, she thinks it’s called a “Hoochie”.

  • mayberry says:

    I couldn’t see your sidebar before (in IE) but I can now.

    I have the same problem with “vagina.” So we use “vulva,” which makes my husband want to curl up and die. Then Jo taught it to Tacy. I’m sure Julie is still thanking me.

  • s@m says:




    I don’t call anything in the “nether regions” by their real names, EVER. Not sure why, but don’t.

    As for Ricky. I think I would bust a gut laughing after I ran out of the room if (or when) I catch Carter flogging it. Blech.

  • FishyGirl says:

    Here in the Fish Pond they are all penises or vaginas, and each knows all about the other. Due to the preponderance of diapers in this house, it has been known from the start.

    I have a niece that is 18 months older than my oldest, and when I was pregnant with my youngest and we’d found out he was a boy, she apparently didn’t know the difference between boys and girls, because after the sonogram she asked me “How do they KNOW it’s a boy?” I was so surprised – I just told her to go ask her mother. SIL is still mad at me – how the heck was I supposed to know she’d never seen a male of any kind naked since she was about 3? Now she knows.

  • FishyGirl says:

    I forgot to say – we use the words we do because that’s what I’ve heard most people using as the “correct” words. I figure my girls have a lot of time before we need to worry about the anatomically correct identification of all the bits and pieces down there, and they can learn them when they are old enough and mature enough to handle it. Until then, we’re sticking with the popular, incorrect term.

  • NtycnBoricua says:

    Hilarious! Poor Ricky for real. I haven’t even thought about what we’ll say to our daughter, she’s only 14 months old, so hopefully I have some time still.

  • We’ve always just used penis and vagina. Mostly because I loved the way the kids would run around and point out other peoples privates while yelling PENIS! BAGINA!

    Grossed my parents way out! Gotta love that. Or you could call the parts what my husband does…his willy and my whooha. We are such classy folk around here.

    And as for the big talk, well, there is always Costco. What’s more fun than bulk items, strange men eavesdropping and hotdogs?

  • I STILL can’t figure out my blogads.

  • Chase says:

    I’m almost 32 and I still don’t call it “my vagina”. LOL! I don’t know what I’d teach any kids I had….probably something at the 6th grade maturity level because that’s where I’m perpetually stuck anyway.

    And…your right sidebar looks perfect to me now! It was on the left side before. :)

  • Jenny says:

    Man, I don’t know. I have told the kids the proper names for all their parts, but we’re sort of cutesy around here. We don’t use urinate instead of pee, know what I mean?

    I do alternate between the proper names, and our other terms – penis = dingus, labia/vulva = potty. Usually if I’m telling them to make sure to wipe/wash something, I use the ‘proper’ term, but if they are streaking through the house, I will bust out a “cover up that ding!”

    My youngest says boys have peanuts and girls have china.

  • Melanie says:

    I just really, really wish right now that there was a “Best Blog Post Title of All Time” award… you would so totally win for this one.
    I go back and forth on this… sometimes I refer to it as a vagina, sometimes a vulva, and sometimes, the one that cracks my older girl up without fail, “pudenda.”

  • Chrissy says:

    I just checked your site in Firefox, IE and Opera and everything is showing up fine.

  • joy says:

    the video-i bet that poor kid will never play with his wanger again…

    i have only boys and it’s willies and nutsacks in this house.

  • Aprylsantics says:

    I can see clearly now the sidebar’s there….

    I always end up correcting myself when referring to the my son’s penis as a pee pee (so as not to confuse the pee pee with the act of pee peeing) and my daughter’s vagina, which I also have referred to as a ‘pee pee’ and called them what would be considered the norm. I’m not sure why I care, but I do and sometimes find myself stammering when it’s time to address the privates.

    My MIL insists on teaching things to my kids when she visits like ‘BM’ for bowl movement instead of ‘poopie’ or ‘navel’ instead of ‘belly button’. Now I ask, what’s so frickin wrong with ‘poopie’ and ‘belly button’? I think ‘BM’ brings to mind a much more graphic image than ‘poopie’ and ‘belly button’ is just plain cute.

    Oh and that video is priceless. I think I’ll save a copy when it’s time for the “talk” so my son and I can at least share a laugh before the awkwardness sets in.

  • Kristi says:

    Oh, that was funny! “When you’re a little bit older we’ll have to talk about these feelings.” Um, like how much older? Because it seems the dude needs the talk now.

    Though I am so not looking forward to it, I am definitely preparing my mind for the talk. I certainly do not want to come across as shameful and embarrassed because that will send the wrong message and I’m afraid that my children would sense this and not talk to me in the future when they had serious issues or questions about it.

    For some reason, it is much easier for me to call a penis a penis than it is for me to tell my daughter it is her vagina.

  • MammaLoves says:

    I haven’t had a choice. There is no privacy in my house. But then again, it’s me and all boys. I just grew up in a house where everything was called my it’s official name, so I’ve pretty much done the same thing–though I don’t get too specific about the “lady flaps” as Lotta so wonderfully calls them.

  • ali says:

    the kids call it a vah-jay-jay…something i can only assume they learned from….who learned it from the lovely Miranda Bailey :)
    penis is penis around our parts. although emily has recently started giggling when we say balls…which leads me to think she knows more than i think…

  • RWA says:

    Good luck with deciding how to handle that – with both kids!

    And, I can see the ads just fine with IE 6.0.

  • dianeinjapan says:

    Gah! “Ewww” is right! I’m having to think about “the talk” right now, myself, and I completely dread it. This kind of stuff used to embarass me sooooo much as a kid.

  • Pendullum says:

    Ohhh my gaawwddd..
    What an utterly creepy video…
    And the poor kid who was cast… Can you imagine the ridicule???

  • I use vagina for sort of the same reason you don’t – the euphemisms sound gross to me. I think the amount of detail depends on the child’s age and maturity. For my 1.5 year old, “vagina” is good enough to describe it. I know your kids are older, but for now I’ve decided to pretend I will never have to face this issue.

  • Mrs. Chicky says:

    Oh. My. God. Where the heck did you find that video? Never mind I don’t want to know, it made me very, um, uncomfortable.

  • TB says:

    So, I’m curious. What DO you call them?

  • motherofbun says:

    Ahhhhhh. THat was freaking hysterical. My mom would have cut my brother’s penis off for that one. By the way, the only sex talk I got was “Don’t do it until you’re married.” My parents couldn’t even SAY the word “sex.”

    We just refer to my son’s weiner as a weiner. He’s 4. He’s too little to have a “penis.” Anyway… maybe I’m crazy but I think that lady was behind the dime on that talk… I think it should have started alot sooner… And can you imagine if that kid’s friends saw that? Can you say “BEATDOWN?”

  • Steph M says:

    Fantastic!! I think only those who really and truly live the Lego life will understand…my then 3 year old son pronounced one day, “mommy…you know… boys have willies and girls have Clikits…”.

  • margalit says:

    Being brought up by a doctor, we used the correct words for EVERYTHING. I was about 3 when I screamed out in the middle of a restaurant “I havta muv my bowels”. So I’m probably not the best person to use as a data point. When my kids were little, I referred to my daughter’s “privates” as her vulva, and the interior as her vagina. Both anatomically correct. My son has a penis and testicles.

    Now, then they are much older and know all the other names people use, they tend to use euphamisms more than I do. For example, today I had to pick up my daughter’s “lady products” at the store. Her words, not mine.

    My son refers to his reproductive organs as Uncle Dick and the Twins. Makes me so proud!

  • theotherbear says:

    Oh that video made me cringe. It reminded me of a boyfriend I had once who when he was about 25 went over to visit his dad. And caught him in sort of the same compromising position as your video. heh. Couldn’t look his dad in the eye for 6 months.

  • Heather says:

    Oh poor Ricky. I have a whoo-ha and I love the word weiner, but when we have kids the plan is to act like grown-ups and use the right words. Someone may need to remind me of this when I actually have kids though.

  • schloobie says:

    It’s my first time commenting, and I thought this was a fantabulous one to do so on. Ha ha ha. Poor Ricky indeed. Thank GOD for YouTube.

    And we call it vulva, penis and private areas too – mainly because saying things like “hoo hoo” makes me feel even sillier than vagina.

    And I grew up in a house totally of girls, so my son touching himself COMPLETELY freaks me out. I try to stay calm and ask him to do it privately, but I seriously want to run screaming into the night.

  • an-gee-la says:

    obviously, that lady doesn’t have children in real life.

  • Fenicle says:

    Our son is 4.5 years old and he only calls his man part a “pee pee.” We haven’t gotten much past that. BUT he’s starting to ask questions about my parts. We are an open family – open bathroom doors, running around half naked while getting dressed, etc… I’m stuck at what to tell him too!

  • Jessica says:

    Thank God I don’t have children.

    Funny, I remember my mom calling my brother’s wing-wang his “peanut,” which made perfect sense to me, because that’s exactly what it looks like (at that age). I don’t, however, remember us calling my parts anything. I mean, she’s a hippie, and it must have been discussed, but for the life of my I can’t remember what we called it.

    As for Ricky, well, I think he got off easy. When I was 14, my brother (Mr Peanut) caught me “reading” the Devil in Miss Jones (ahh, the library – no wonder I became a librarian!) in the attic. At dinner that night he announced, in front of my GRANDMOTHER no less, that “Jessica was playing with herself in the attic today.” I. Wanted. To. Die. And kill him. My grandmother laughed her ass off, thankfully. But then everyone knew why I spent so much time in the attic….

  • binkytown says:

    Its so unfortunate that vagina is such an unpleasant sounding word. Its all hard sounds and gs. I appreciate what it can do but it should be called something else. Bet a man thought that one up.

  • August says:

    Ha. I know what you mean! Why do the correct names have to sound so icky???

    Oooh, Chase sent me, in case you wondering.

  • Guy Vestal says:

    I have 7 daughters, and to this day they all still refer to it as their “HooHa”. My wife taught them that, and they seem to like the name, so I guess who cares what it is called as long as you use it responsibly?

  • I think that the interesting question here is WHY these words – vagina, labia, vulva – give us the heebie jeebies? (and, for the record, I am well heebie-jeebied by them.) They’re nice latinate words – their creepiness can only come from the fact that we’ve been conditioned to think of them as creepy words. And isn’t that sad?

    I may have to take this up in my own post…

  • Izzy says:

    I’ve thought the same thing but I can’t even begin to address the reasons behind it aside from a subconscious mass conditioning; although little girls don’t have any problem with the proper words at all, which is even more telling. It’s interesting how most of the female population (in America) feels the same way about female genital names. Same thing goes for the word “panties”. It doesn’t bother me but almost all women I know loathe that word. Why?

  • Anne Glamore says:

    I don’t have any idea what you tell girls, but I wrote about what WE told our son in “It’s Natural But It’s Rated ‘R’” (on my left sidebar. ) I had NO IDEA until I was well into the talk that it would get as graphic as it did, but I must say, my son appears to understand the process quite well.
    I cannot believe I have to do this 2 more times…

    Good luck!!

  • SEO says:

    my child is now 5 year old, we mostly point him donot touch your ‘lullu’, as saying penis directly to a child is some uncomman, it he grows he understand this. all these thing makes him happy too…

  • Hey there, You have done an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.

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