By Rachel Birdsell
Quick! For $1,000 in fake cash, name the first thing that pops into your head when I ask you to say a word that makes you uncomfortable. If you didn’t yell out the word “vagina,” I’m sorry, but you lose this round.
The reason that vagina is the winning word is that it never fails to bring out some people’s inner-Puritan. Recently, Tim McDaniel, a science teacher in the lovely burg of Dietrich, Idaho, population 329, inadvertently invoked some parents’ inner-prudes when he dared to use the word vagina while teaching his 10th grade class about the reproductive system. These parents are now demanding he be investigated, because, god forbid he use the correct anatomical terminology when teaching about the corresponding body part.
What word did they expect McDaniel to use? Hooha? Cooter? Crabby Patty? A woman’s no-no place? I don’t know how to break it to these parents, but I’m pretty sure their 16-year-olds already know what a vagina is and probably act more mature than the parents do about it.
Unfortunately, here in the United States, there is a big chunk of our society that is still starchy about s-e-x, which is the reason they blush when the v-word is spoken outside a gynecologist’s exam room.
These people insist their children use euphemisms for their genitalia and they pray fervently their little darlings will never be exposed to horribly dirty words like vagina, penis or vulva. They also don’t approve of the word uvula because 1. They have no idea what it is, and 2. It sounds like it should be located somewhere south of the beltline.
This prudish view attaches shame and embarrassment to sex which is why people are so uncomfortable about it they can’t discuss it like rational adults. This means some parents aren’t teaching their children about sex and are shocked when their teens wind up with unwanted pregnancies or STDs. Doesn’t it make sense that if we were more open about sex and less ridiculous about the word, vagina, our nation’s teenage pregnancy rate would drop, there would be fewer abortions and the number of cases of STDs would sharply decline?
In every article I read about the McDaniel case, the parents who were screaming about the word vagina were described as conservatives. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who wasn’t even slightly shocked to hear that. After all, this is the group who punished two female, Michigan representatives for daring to use the word vagina and the faction that wants to regulate women’s reproductive health and dictate what women can and can’t do with their vaginas and surrounding area.
If you’re as tired as I am of people being such idiots about sex and the terminology that’s involved, please join me in my vagina revolution. Since I’ve never led a revolution of this variety before, I’m not entirely sure what exactly is involved. I do know it will include all of us vowing to embrace our sexuality and kicking those damn Puritans to the curb. Viva la vagina!
Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/RachelABirdsell