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What name do you use for your daughters private parts? - Page 9

post #161 of 184
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post
...Maybaby, I have to ask: Did you have no books about puberty, biology, women's health, or childbirth that had diagrams of female genitals? I've seen so many of them that it seems like it would be hard to get to adulthood without ever seeing one. Were you just not as curious as me?
To be honest, I didn't know what those parts were "down there" were all called until I was in my 20's & about to be married; I got a booklet from the gynecologist I went to for my 1st exam (I went so I could get BC pills). The HS I went to almost 30 yrs ago didn't have anything about external human reproductive anatomy, & I didn't drive until late, so public libraries were out. We certainly didn't have any info in my parents' house. I never looked for that info at the university library. The only anatomy I'd ever seen was in my college art history class I knew about the basics from a farming background, but nothing about humans.
post #162 of 184
I was lucky my dad gave me a copy of our bodies ourselves when I was 17 (a little late but okay!). My friends never got anything like that. I think my parents were the only parents in town that would let their child read such a book. So I can totally see how someone could get into adulthood having little to no knowledge of female anatomy.
post #163 of 184
My (now) husband made me sit down with a mirror and figure out what is what down there. He knew I was ashamed and thought it was dirty and gross and that we needed to work through it.
post #164 of 184
Thanks I Olive and Shahbazin

Originally Posted by EnviroBecca
...Maybaby, I have to ask: Did you have no books about puberty, biology, women's health, or childbirth that had diagrams of female genitals? I've seen so many of them that it seems like it would be hard to get to adulthood without ever seeing one. Were you just not as curious as me?

To be honest, I've just been completely mortified over the subject. Talking with other women here and seeing the correct terms helps though. I've heard labia, vulva, etc. But I was too mortified to find out what they were. In health class in HS, I don't think they taught vulva/labia. I think they just did "vagina" and the internal organs. Then again, I had my face burried so nobody would see me while we discussed the issue (or I just skipped class all together). Ya know, hoping that if I burried my head and nobody could see me I'd become invisible and/or the topic itself would go away. I've used "street" names for my parts...cuz that's apparently more socially acceptable. I guess giving birth/having a daughter has opened up a whole new world and I don't want her to have to same embarrassment/shame that I've had all my life. I'm learning so I can teach her. I'm a late learner, in many aspects of my life, but I'm learning nonetheless.
post #165 of 184
This has got me thinking!! My family used "bits" for a girl , but willy for a boy! As most posters have pointed out why is it much harder to get a suitable term/use the right term for a girl's private parts?
post #166 of 184
We used vagina when dd couldn't pronounce vulva (she said vooova), now we have transitioned to vulva, and have used labia when talking specifics (example: "honey, if you keep closing your labia with your hands the pee pee will spray everywhere" ) ... then we got into clitoris because she came running to me one day -- "I have something in my vagina!!!!" and I thought crap, what has she put in there and how am I going to explain it to a doctor at the ER... thank God she was talking about her clitoris -- then we got into urethra because she asked me if she peed out of her clitoris and why didn't she have a penis like daddy...

So these things have evolved over time She just turned 3 by the way and I am not uncomfortable in the least talking about it.

I mean yeah, is it embarrassing being in Jo-Ann fabrics waiting for fabric to be cut and dd is singing a song set to the tune of jingle bells with "vagina" being the only word? Yes.

but it is also funny
post #167 of 184
My mother used "secret", because apparently, at about 2 years of age I figured out that the way to know FOR SURE if someone was male or female, (The early 80's being a confusing time for toddlers trying to learn gender) was to check their genitals.

So....because I started the horrifying habit of looking under strange women's skirts to verify their femininity, my mother started saying "Don't look there, it's a secret." We then began using that word for a woman's genitals.

Akin to "private parts" or "privates". We also used "peepee".

Tush and fanny, though, we used for the back side, along with butt.
post #168 of 184
My dd's first word was vulva (when she was first learning to talk she happened to be interested in the area).

Now at 3, she understands the following terms: vulva, vagina, labia, clitoris, urethra, perineum, uterus, anus, testicals and penis.
post #169 of 184
My therapist is adament that people should use proper names--vagina and penis. Period. She said she's had parents who "named" their kids' private areas "cupcake" or "cookie", etc. (And what do you do with cupcakes and cookies? Geeze people ) If anything were to happen to a kid (sexually) having the kid use proper names for their parts will hold up more in a court room. Could you imagine a kid in court saying, "He touched my cookie...."

I grew up thinking my vagina was a "cookie".
Consider yourself lucky. My mom called mine a "munchie!" :
post #170 of 184
I grew up in a conservative small town, but the pamphlet produced by Kotex that was handed out in 6th grade in public school included a diagram of the female genitals with the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vagina, hymen, and vulva accurately labeled. Any girl interested enough to read that pamphlet thus learned this information. It was also presented in puberty/sex-ed classes I attended through church and Girl Scouts. My local public library had several anatomy texts with diagrams. I didn't take college biology, but my friends who did learned all the internal as well as external female structures. Parents are not the only possible source of this information, unless they home-school and keep their children away from these other sources.
I was a very sheltered teenager and I learned about female anatomy from the tampon pamphlets and a copy of "Our Bodies, Ourselves". It was enlightening. But I did get the distinct impression that the info was both secret and shameful.

And I learned about female anatomy at the same time time that I learned about sexuality, which is not ideal since ... well, I don't know of a better way to put it than to say that I knew sex was "down there" and also that everything toilet-related was "down there" and this left me confused, grossed out by sex, and vaguely ashamed for a long time. I think a simple and matter-of-fact explanation early on would have been better.
post #171 of 184
Right now, my almost two year old calls hers a "gina." I was just thinking today about how I need to teach her the difference between vulva and vagina though. She's obsessed with body parts and knows the differences between eyelash, eyelid, eyebrow, forehead and temple so there's no reason she can't understand vulva and vagina. I don't think she's discovered her clitoris yet, or at least I've not witnessed it. I probably won't point it out... I haven't point out ribs or spine or anything else, you know?

I do use the non-clinical "bits" for referring to the whole area covered by a diaper; ie, oh my you've got poop all over your bits! There's not really a medical term for the area that spans from anus to mons pubis, is there? I figure it's like "tummy." Lots of stuff is covered by both tummy and bits, but it's an easy way to refer to a semi-specific region of one's body.

My parents were upfront about the bits' true names and purposes so it's not really something that I'm embarassed about. I got the sex talk (aka, how babies are made) when I was 6 years old or so... when I was too young to be embarassed by it. I'll probably do the same with Anna.
post #172 of 184
I was thinking of this thread the other day when dd hurt herself on the arm.
She said "I just did 'blah' to my arm, I mean my WRIST, and boy does it hurt"
so yes in our family we are very body part specific. I do find it helpful to be able to narrow down the area in question. I also like that she knows her body well enough to seperate the areas if she needs to.
We will keep on with being specific for all areas(not just the vulva area).
post #173 of 184
This has been a very interesting read.

I called girl's parts vaginas (I worked in daycare and it's what most of the parents there said, it's not nice to contradict them).

My baby has penis and balls. I try, but his father will not say tesitcles or scrotum. He has sack and balls. I've hit a place of "close enough". I also say bits or parts to refer to the whole area covered by a diaper. (ie, from the penis to the anus)

I plan to use Vulva for my girls, if and when I have them.

I would like to join those who can't stand yoni. I know it's a beautiful sanskrit word, but it irritates me. Can't say why. However, feel free to teach it to your kids, I just don't plan to use it.

And for those who say "we teach kids proper names for everything else" No we don't! I also say piggies, tootsies, belly, finners, bottom, kissers, fluff, boobs, peepers, snout, shnoz, etc.

At least we are all doing better than my friend's aunt. She was brought up to wash as far down as possible, wash as far up as possible, and then wash possible. So she called it possible.
post #174 of 184
Originally Posted by elspethshimon View Post
Yoni is NOT a made up word. Sanskrit is NOT a silly, pretend language. Indeed, yoni is the only word that I can think of that actually honors body.

Yeah, but you're still using another language, which... seems pretty euphemistic to me. And I've studied Sanskrit, which most people who like to say "yoni"... haven't.

I say vulva, vagina, labia. Latin is no more inherently crude or dirty than Sanskrit.
post #175 of 184
We call it a vulva but it is very difficult for me. I cringe everytime I say it, but I don't want my daughter growing up with a weird complex like me, so I make myself say it. She says it very casually. It embarrasses dh, though. The other day she walked up to dh and was like "Daddy, my vulva hurts." He turned red and told her to talk to Mommy. Growing up, my mom called it a "tushie." One time at school one of the teachers said "You don't have a jacket? You're going to freeze your little tushie off." I about died!
post #176 of 184
We have two girls and just say vagina or privates. We haven't had the need really to go into specifics of the vagina because they never really have asked and we aren't super technical about certain parts. If they asked I would tell them.

The other day though after we went to the beach, I was changing my daughter who was CAKED in sand and I said, "Oh no! Not in the va jay-jay." She looked at me puzzled and said, "Did you just call me J-J?"
post #177 of 184
My BF's DD was molested by her dad. The social worker said she was believable (at 4) because she used the correct terms for her parts. Doctors and social workers know what the cute or silly names mean, but a defense lawyer will rip it to shreds. "It can mean anything! That could be the name for your big toe!" So we use only correct names, just in case.
post #178 of 184
Regarding Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May Gaskin, and other thoughts on the history of the words we use:

1. The book has to be read as a product of its time. From what I seem to gather from talking to women older than myself, there as sort of a transition of words used by women exploring ways to claim empowering language for the female genitalia. There was a lot of pushback against the more secretive nicknames being used as that wave of feminism peaked.

"Puss" was one of those words some women experimented with...it was used in an empowered framework. Remember, these were women who were getting together in women's lib groups and taking mirrors and looking at their female anatomy together. They were already talking about the "clitoris" and the "labia," and all. Then, sometime in the 70s and 80s, a lot of women started to experiment with reclaiming the word "vagina" as a non-clinical and non-patriarchal word to describe the totality of female genitalia.

A LOT of us grew up with that. Many of us also learned the more specific parts too, but "vagina" was still the catch-all phrase of that time used by a great number of folks. But by the time many of us were coming of age, there were books like Our Bodies, Ourselves, and there was more comprehensive sex ed (which is actually being phased out of a lot of schools now). So we learned words like "vulva" as the "true" catch-all, and we learned about parts of our bodies that sometimes weren't even explored back when women were getting together and looking at their bodies: we learned about the "G spot," for example.

Now there seems to be a pretty good split between camps still using nicknames of various types, as well as camps using words like "vagina" still, the more recently used "vulva," and of course, the seemingly love-it-or-hate it "yoni."

Spiritual Midwifery would be a tough read not taken as a historical text.

2. Some folks have said, half ashamed, that they don't love Ina May Gaskin. I don't either. I understand in the grand scheme of things her contributions to the world of midwifery. And I am thankful for those. But my mom, an AP/GD/earthy type visited "the farm" with some of us kids back in the 1970s or early 1980s and [A] was lectured endlessly about the fact that she was still breastfeeding a two year old (I am sure Ina May is way more enlightened now) and [B] found that every few sentences spoken by folks on the farm seemed to be peppered with the phrase "Stephen says..." (Remember Ina's husband Stephen? Remember how in the book Stephen was a major default authority? Well, that was happening in real life too, and it really rubbed my mom the wrong way...it felt sort of cult-y to her and also very, and ironically, patriarchal). I am not all adoring of Ina May.
post #179 of 184
Okay, so now that I got the Spiritual Midwifery thing out of the way, let me say this. I have been on MDC for over ten years. Believe me, this is not the first time this conversation has come up, nor will it be the last. The arguments made here, on all sides of the fence, have been made and will be made again.

This is one of those personal decisions that seems to carry some weight, and it is easy to argue about personal decisions that seem to carry some weight. I think if done in a civil manner, this back-and-forth that seems so much like running around in circles actually can help us as individuals to clarify our personal thinking and values so we can make our own individual decisions thoughtfully.

I am proof. Watching a few of these conversations over the years, I reconsidered my continuation of the term "vagina" as my "catch-all" (how it was used when I was a kid). With dfd, I use "vulva." When I first thought of using that term, it just did not feel right to me. It felt so clinical and un-natural. But I did it because I had thought it out and really clarified my values. It turns out it only felt un-natural to say because I wasn't used to saying it. Now that I have a two year old who throws it about as naturally as "elbow" or "abdomen" or "knee" or "little toe," (and a three year old boy who also has been known to say it), it suddenly feels like the most natural thing in the world.

With all these terms, we each are going to have some initial, gut reactions. It is easy to judge and listen impatiently to one another. It is easy to react off-handedly with words chosen without thought ("eewww") and without consideration for those they may hurt. That may be the nature of the beast, but even if it makes me a hopeless optimist, I think we can do better. If there is more to say, let it be said as respectfully as possible.

One final note:

Originally Posted by brookie514 View Post
Doctors and social workers know what the cute or silly names mean, but a defense lawyer will rip it to shreds. "It can mean anything! That could be the name for your big toe!" So we use only correct names, just in case.
Yes, I do think this can have an influence, even now in these fairly "enlightened times." Court is an unforgiving place (I know because my family's life is largely a court-determined life due to being a foster family). The job of the defense attorney will be to rip to shreds any weakness, no matter how impartial the investigations have been. Not too many years ago, there was a situation right here on MDC where a mama discovered her child was being abused by the child's father. Her ability to protect her daughter *was* limited by the use of a cute nickname for "vulva." She eventually was able to ensure her child's protection, but it was a painful, awful saga. The rest of us wanted to leap through our computer screens and grab this mama and her children and RUN!

On the other hand, I think the person who is involved in investigations of child sexual abuse who pointed out that at least in terms of interviewing children there is always a chance to code the body according to the child's language before the interview really starts is an important one. I think a lot of progress has been made even since the publication of Protecting the Gift. Depending on where you live, your child may experience some protection because of that, regardless of what you call the vulva and its parts.
post #180 of 184
I haven't plucked up the courage to call DD's parts anything other than "bits"- I'm hoping to get there one day very soon !
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