Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A Genital Related Conundrum

Mr Disgrace is in...well...disgrace.  I had a well formulated plan for what I was going to say when Rory asked me how babies are made.  This was going to involve the words 'special cuddle that only grown ups are allowed to do' and a truthful but vague description of how babies make their way out into the world (glossing over the many hours of torturous pain, things tearing and the epic blood loss, perhaps).  This, I felt was entirely age appropriate and offered enough of the facts of life to satisfy my 4 year old without turning him into 'that' child in his class who would upset the other parents by telling their kids all the gory details.

Enter Mr Disgrace.  One morning a few weeks ago, I came out of the shower to Rory shouting "ER, MUMMY, IS IT TRUE THAT DADDY PUT HIS WILLY UP YOUR BUM HOLE TO MAKE ME?"

Well done, Richard.  Brilliantly executed birds and the bees talk there.  Thanks for that.

"Well, not quite sweetheart.  It wasn't exactly that hole..."

"Ladies have three holes, don't they?  A weeing one, a bum hole and a baby hole."

"That's right.  It's the baby hole that we're talking about at the moment."

"The baby hole?"

"Um.  Yes."

Now it's my turn to be in disgrace:  You see, although my child is fast approaching 5 years old, I have so far entirely skirted around the issue of what to call lady parts.  His bits were easy - he knows that it's a penis and he calls it a willy.  I don't especially like the word willy, but it seems to be used by most people, so it was the obvious choice as everyone would know what he was on about if he mentioned it (hmmm, although sometimes I wish we'd given it a code name so nobody would have known what he was on about when he mentioned it).  But girl parts are a different matter entirely.

He's been told that the 'baby hole' is a vagina, but that's not a very memorable word and seems a bit formal.  Everyone around here seems to call it a 'foof'.  I refuse to even say the word 'foof', let alone apply it to my genitals.  Utterly ridiculous word.  Just as bad was 'twinkle' which kids seemed to call it when I lived in Yorkshire.  Then there's the camp that call it a 'fairy'.  Nope.  Not going there either.  What's the deal with us reducing part of a woman's reproductive bits to anything to do with small, imaginary, magical beings?  Even 'foof' sounds like it might be a sound that fairies make when they fart, and vaginas do not twinkle (unless you're into vajazzling.  And ain't nobody got time for that shit).

Delving further (hahaHAAAAA), the options are no better.  There are the coy ('downstairs', 'girlie bits', 'hoo-hoo' - that last one is not even a word, it's JUST SOUNDS.  FFS).  There are the well used, yet somehow not quite appropriate for a small child ('fanny', 'muff', 'vag').  There are the inventive ('penis fly trap', 'cock socket', 'chasm of doom' and so on) and there are the nasty, mainly the C word (vile, although somehow sounds less offensive when said by a northerner, and positively friendly when said by someone from North Yorkshire).

This is just the tip of the iceberg of vaginal lexicography, but I'd be here all day if I listed every word I've ever heard.  Needless to say, none of them are appropriate for my son to use.

"I just want a word that doesn't make a mockery of a woman's parts", I say, clambering onto my feminist soap box.  "It's a body part that withstands far more than a penis ever does.  It endures childbirth.  It stretches to accommodate a baby, it gets battered and bloodied and altered beyond all recognition, and then it goes back to how it used to be (more or less).  And people want to call that a 'twinkle'?  It needs a better word.

"How about 'THE MIGHTY FLUE" suggests Mr Disgrace, giggling like a schoolboy.  Again, thanks for that Rich.

I quite like The Mighty Flue, though.  Although I'm not sure what the staff at Rory's school would think if he announced that the girls in his class and his teacher have MIGHTY FLUES.  And believe me, he would.  So we're back to square one.  Somebody - anybody - just give me a word.




41 comments:

  1. My husband refers to it as a 'tuppence'. Although, this is because he thinks it refers to size and shape, not a victorian slang term to do with moderately priced whores.

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  2. ah an age old debate that reminded me of the exact same discussion with a friend of mine a couple of years ago. Fortunately the wonders of face book have captured this so I will send through. Suffice to say her family's approach - 'slit' - was thoroughly rejected.

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  3. I quite like "minnie" - you could spell it as mini or minny instead if you want. But it's not cringey, is a name, like willy, not a particularly common name either (and to be fair, William is very common and boys don't seem to have an issue with it) and it's an easy word for a child to say.

    We used to have a cat called Twinkle. snurk.

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  4. I follow Caitlin Moran's line and go for "the Sarlaac pit" on the grounds that it really wants Han Solo in it but never gets him.

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  5. Apart from the 'inside plumbing' discussed earlier on twitter, we came up with sausage wallet or mossy mound....hmmm. Still struggling with this one!

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  6. Call me Mr Boring, but we just use the proper words with our girl. We use the proper words for every other body part my daughter knows so nicknaming some seems to cheapen them somehow...makes them seem 'naughty' or secretive. My daughter knows she has a vulva (we use vagina rarely as it's not really in a 4 Year old's life) and daddy has a pens and that's the difference between boys and girls.

    Not come across any upset or offence taken yet...in fact most seem impressed that she knows to call it her vulva (should it be itchy, or her have a wedgie or something)

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  7. Yep, proper terminology is the way to go. We used fanny when my eldest was small - seemed easier to pronounce than vulva when she was less than two. I now have four daughters and regret that decision. I'm trying to undo that legacy with the three year old by using vulva, vagina and urethra instead. They aren't scary words, honest.
    I also read about how using the proper words protects children in abuse situations. Peadophiles like to use cutesy names for genitals. No thank you.

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  8. It is a vagina! My daughter then made up her own name. Fagey. Tell her it is a vagina and it is up to her to choose a nick name if she likes.

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  9. We call it front bum when younger and the kids will use that if not using proper names (although they are very in to proper names at the moment and love to sit around discussing penises and vaginas (they are 8,7 and 5)

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  10. Yeah, I agree. Penis and Vagina/Vulva. Otherwise you have to think of stupid, made up names for all the body parts...you wouldn't call an elbow a 'bowie'...actually maybe you should...

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  11. This is such a great post...thanks for sharing!

    I know it's terrible but I secretly quite like "Magical Cave of Wonders".

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  12. Wee wee

    Works for boys and girls.

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  13. I just call everything "parts". My son has boy parts, my daughter has girl parts. That or "bits". Collectively, then, genitals for either can be referred to as "bits and pieces".

    When I was at school the term of use seemed to be "minnie", or, as we got older and more risqué, "fanny". I've never really been fond of either.

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  14. Mega mummy fail, I will openly admit I panicked under pressure and now we forevermore have your back bum, and 'front bum'....

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  15. my mam called mine a woo and my brothers a woo woo my partner calls mine a mimzy lol x

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  16. When I was little we used 'fanny', but this was too rude for my husband. We now mostly refer to 'ladies parts' (or just 'parts') I've no idea how this happened, but it works fine. They know some specific words too (vagina, clitoris) but don't use them often.

    It isn't just genitals - we use nick names for other body parts too. Tummy/belly, bum, boobs (also known as 'ginks', 'milkies' or 'nibbles').

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  17. It's interesting how far less people feel the need to make up a name to refer to male genitalia in the way they do for female genitalia, when talking to children.

    I think "willy" was previously the male equivalent of "fanny" but unfortunately over the years the term "fanny" seems to have been degraded (possibly through use in pornography etc) and is no longer really used by parents or seen as socially acceptable in the way that "willy" still is.

    I work in child protection and prior to having children dealt with cases involving sexual abuse where perpetrators of abuse used terms such as "fairy", "tuppence" or "minnie", which are still commonly used by parents. When I had a daughter I couldn't bring myself to use any of these names but I also didn't see this as being necessary. I call my son's genitalia "willy" and "balls" for the reasons outlined above and my daughter's genitalia "vagina".

    I think people should use what they feel most comfortable with but consider how this might impact on their child in future in relation to sex education, personal relationships, attitude towards sex, sexual confidence etc . For example if a young girl has been told that she has a "fairy" it may come as a shock to learn about it's real function and purpose when she is older. This may be true for boys too though and may influence how they regard female genitalia when they are older. Just something to bear in mind when confronting this issue!

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  18. We have gone with minnie in our house too!

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  19. Front or little bottom here ...

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  20. can't it be what it is? a Vulva [smile]
    just reading through all the comments wondering why the real word is avoided so much? Nothing wrong with using some other easily recognised words to it, but I still can't believe it is in any way a 'front' version of a bottom (bearing in mind the stinky stuff that emerges from that!).

    Are we still scared of calling Vulva's Vulva's? Is there something wrong with that? and what does sex education call it? surely not a vagina? as so sadly so many still mistakenly do.

    'It' really should have a real name. Does sex education, whilst making the male ejaculate the key theme ever yet discuss female orgasm and ejaculate?

    i wanted to 'like' the dad ^thread that used the right names... it seems only fair? Having said all that, I opted for 'foo' to the young ones, but thats interchanged with Vulva now they're older and I don't want them to appear stoopid!

    I know another mum that was shocked to discover that 'Mary' was also a common euphamism, especially as she had so carefully selected that name for her first born...

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    1. Thanks for the like ;)

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  21. We call my daughter's vagina her 'winnie'. Enough like her brother's 'willy' to make it seem like a natural female variant, not so fluffy that it makes me squirm. Only problem is that others won't know what she means, if referring to it...

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  22. I've been having this dilemma for my son's bits. Currently it's a tail, but potty training is approaching and he is getting confused about the cat's long furry tail!

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  23. I think it should be vagina. It isn't a dirty word and does what it is says on the tin.

    Read 'The Vagina Monologues'
    x

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  24. We have minnie and winkie in our house. We could indeed call them vagina and penis but then we could also say rectum or buttocks instead of a bottom. As my lo's get older these will probably change but at the moment that's what we have settled on. Great post! x

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  25. My son has a winkie (althought now 9 he is begining to change it himself to willy) my daughter has a minkie. This was a natural name as came from my son telling us she was inside out when she was born. We also use front bum quite often. As they get older, they change the names anyway

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  26. just to say .. i think using the word 'vagina' unless talking about the internal tunnel, is very confusing for a child and can make them feel like their vulva is somehow and 'unmentionable'! and like others have said, who knows what they are struggling to speak of when the vulva is called all sorts of strange and unrecognisable names?

    Why are so many hiding from calling the vulva what it is? Are we scared of the vulva?

    If your child had to speak to a nurse at school or a parent whilst staying over and has a problem with her vulva but calls it her vagina thats really unhelpful for the child because it just confuses an already potential embarrassing or upsetting issue with a stranger.

    Dancing around the name of the vulva? We don't call a nose, a sticky outy thing, or a dongle, or a whatever else. Its embarrassment only and its very unhelpful for a child identifying with their body and eventually sexuality to have a non-vulva, or growing up thinking their vulva is their vag? obviously they are very different things

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  27. who is scared of the Vulva?

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  28. we have boys, so not so much of the vagina conundrum. we refer to willy and happy sack (Dad's invention for the otherwise unpleasantly named scrotum).

    The birds and the bees we dispatched with recently - my thanks go to David Attenborough! "How did the baby get in there?" "Well, you saw how baby animals were made on the tv the other night?" (lightbulb goes on over Mr 7's head) "yes! and the civet cat got his willy stuck in the lady cat!" (peels of laughter). It's true, that episode of Life of Mammals was an eye opener. I'm calling that a win.

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  29. I got painted into the proverbial corner when my daughter was 2 or 3 and had to think fast... now it's a "thingy"

    oh well.

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  30. Laughed out loud several times reading this post! When my kids were younger, I let them call their bits whatever they liked; which ranged from a muted 'point then giggle' to 'Fluff', 'Front Bum', 'Widgie' and 'Foo Foo'. Now they are aged 10 & 12 though, what can I say except that these days, they are educating me instead!!

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  31. Times, have changed! I think when I was a child my parents were so excruciatingly embarrassed by anything like that, that mine didn't have a name at all. My son has a Schniedel (because my DP is German) and will learn when he's older that it is also a penis but if we had a girl I think I'd go for vulva - everything else, with the possible exception of minnie, is just too naff.

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  32. Wonderful, laugh-out-loud post. I chose to use the word vagina with my children however the next time this comes up I may explain the difference between the vagina and the vulva.

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  33. haha! fab post. we've used the proper terms (penis/vulva) but they get used so infrequently it probably doesn't even count.

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  34. To the person saying you wouldn't call an elbow a "bowie" indeed, but it is actually called your olecranon. I wouldn't tell a 3 year old she had grazed the skin covering her olecranon, I would say she hurt her elbow.

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  35. Lol about the elbow comment, but who knew the elbow was called that, such a vast minority that it isn't the same as using the term vulva, when everyone knows what that is? We went for 'thingy' for both sexes, but now use Vulva/Penis, and vagina obviosly although far less call for that one it seems.

    but did go for 'balls' rather than scrotum (isn't that just the skin?) I wait to be enlightened on that one. I thought it might be the scrotal sac or something thats a bit long winded.

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  36. I know someone who calls it a flower. We say pipi and caca places (coming from FR) so the in between bit is mostly termed by location. In between/ front of your bottom/ inside your bottom, as it is only bit where you wash inside to a certain extent.

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  37. my partner used to call me 'winkie', or 'winkle' what does that say?

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  38. Ha ... I pondered this one a while back http://crazypregnantperson.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/by-any-other-name/ and was amazed by the names people came up with ... I think I've settled on fanny even though this causes issue when we go Stateside and is technically (in UK parlance) more in than out, but it'll do unless something else occurs, I can't get my head round all the fluffy, froffy words for girl bits ... I'm not keen on the sound of the word vulva ... and that makes me think of the way Shirley Valentine refers to the cliiitooooorrrrrrrrrrrrris, as you say most of this nether region stuff sounds so much better with a northern accent!

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    1. I'd forgotten all about Shirley Valentine and clitooooris. Will have to dig that out and watch it immediately.

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