Hands up – are you offended by the word vagina?

Originally post July 2012

If recent affairs on both sides of the Atlantic are anything to judge by the entire planet is petrified of the word vagina.

In the US, state representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking in the Michigan legislature for uttering the word in a debate about abortion control, while an ad in Australia for a panty liner daring to name the body part concerned with the product has been placed under intense scrutiny.

I don’t understand the drama. Unlike cunt, which just about everyone finds degrading, vagina is a perfectly accurate, acceptable anatomical word, just like penis, which hardly anyone is bothered about these days.

At least some of the complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau were related to the model’s state of undress, rather than the words she used.

So rather than using a word that’s been around for close to 350 years , we resort to cutesy euphemisms such as vajayjay (thanks Grey’s Anatomy , punani and even squish mitten, which to my ears sound ridiculous.

At least on TV, we are beginning to lighten up. A much-cited Parents Television Council study of American TV shows – which, let’s face it, dominate our screens – revealed shows on the five major networks included vagina in dialogue 35 times in the 2010-2011 season. A decade earlier there were just four. CBS show Two Broke Girls appears to be leading the charge to normalise vagina, with 12 incidents in two months.

Perhaps it’s one of those rare cases where TV will actually improve our communication.

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