Vagina vs. vulva: There's a big difference, people

Article: Vagina vs. vulva: There's a big difference, people

A little more than a month ago we here at (that’d be me, i.e. Lo, and Em) conducted a poll called “Vulva or Vagina?” Readers had two options to choose from (natch):

Vulva: If we’re talking about female external genitalia, this is the anatomically correct and accurate term. (Plus, it sounds nicer.)
Vagina: That’s what everyone calls it. It’s common practice, common knowledge. Nobody calls it vulva. To do so is pretentious.

The Vaginagate roundup

Article: The Vaginagate roundup

In case you were wondering why all your friends were using the word “vagina” in their Facebook status updates over the weekend, late last week two representatives (both women) were banned from speaking in the Michigan House during a debate over a bill that bans all abortions after 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. The Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas hasn’t specified exactly what offended him, but one of the representatives, Democrat Lisa Brown, claims it’s because she used the word vagina. “Apparently, ‘vagina’ is another v-word that Must Not Be Named. Like Voldemort,” Brown told Here’s a (very abridged!) sampling of Vaginagate coverage:

Design your own pad

Article: Design your own pad

No, not an iPad — a menstrual pad. We were reading that article the other day about the big biz of vaginal products about how marketing and advertising industries aren’t shying away from female genitalia anymore, now that their target market has a million and one shameless blogs about the comings and goings of their vulvas. We mean, power to the punani and all! But that still doesn’t mean any vaginas out there need douching, no matter how hip the packaging or presentation…

Love Your Vagina the green way

Article: Love Your Vagina the green way

Mooncup, the UK-based (but internationally distributed) menstrual cup, just released an old-fashioned song on YouTube called “Love Your Vagina.” They asked women to submit nicknames for their genitalia and have amassed an overwhelming list, from which the best terms were taken to make this catchy song. (Get the sheet music and lyrics here; and if you buy the song on iTunes, proceeds will go to a charity chosen by their Facebook fans). Of course the song includes many nicknames for body parts other than the vagina (a.k.a. “bouncing baby escape hatch”), like the clitoris (“little man in a canoe”), the labia (“peachy lips”), the vulva (“downtown dining and entertainment district”). As long as people know the difference, then we guess we can get behind the casual mixing and matching of terms of endearment for various anatomical parts in the same genital neighborhood if that mixing and matching ultimately encourages positive body image. So yay for secret little honey pots everywhere!

Wave of (female genital) mutilation

Article: Wave of (female genital) mutilation apprised us of a 2009 documentary being screened in our neck of the woods (Hudson Valley) tonight called Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter, so we checked out the trailer. It’s the story of one woman’s quest to save her young daughter from the horrors of the African tradition of female genital cutting. In her native Mali, up to 85% of women and girls undergo clitoral excision, which can result in lifelong pain, infection, infertility and even death. After watching the trailer, you’ll think “This is crazy! How can people still think this is a good idea? Thank goodness I live in a Westernized country.” But then we’d point you to this report on the increase in labiaplasty by Hungry Beast (a television show in Australia where they can show a lot more — warning: this is NSFW).

The First Amendment and Betty Dodson's genital art

Article: The First Amendment and Betty Dodson's genital art

photo via erix!

We admit, genital art isn’t really our thing. We’ve seen our share at downtown art shows (and, ahem, on our own TV show in the U.K.), and, while we’re glad that people are out there creating work like this, we don’t have any hanging on our walls.

That said, we totally, absolutely, 100% understand how important genital art is in helping both women and men understand what sex organs really look like outside of the porn world. As porn increasingly becomes a source of sex education, and as women feel pressured to dye, bleach, and pluck their way to the perfect look — or even, god forbid, go under the knife to get it via labiaplasty — images of real, average vulvas become more important than ever.