Hi. I’m new here. Now, my Aunty Cynthia always said you should start off as you mean to carry on, so I guess I should launch straight into a topic that is weighing on my mind and close to my heart, or at least close to my knickers. Deep breath, and we’re off…
The feminist writer Naomi Wolf recently wrote about visiting a specialist masseuse who had dedicated his yogi-life to helping women get in touch with their inner goddess. He provided this service over a few hours, largely by massaging their inner goddess through the portal of their, erm, yoni. Yup, yoni. Or something. I was too busy squinting and squealing about actually paying a passing hippie 95 pounds sterling to prod me in the bits, albeit a passing hippie who said he wanted to help, to make me happy. Hah! Like I haven’t heard that one in the pub already. But I digress…
A yoni is better known by it’s biological name, a vagina, or it’s yank-confusing name, a fanny, and then 734 other names bandied about in locker rooms by boys. Ya know the ones – twat, beaver, muff, poon, and so on and so forth including the big filthy C-word, the one I told the teenager off for using on Facebook.
“Is it a four-letter word?” wonders my Little Fella with big eyes, on overhearing the kerfuffle.
“Yup,” I say.
“Beginning with C?”
“What is it?”
“I’m not saying.”
“I think I know.”
“No you don’t.”
“Can I spell it?” he asks.
But he’s off regardless: “C-R-A-P”.
Phew. No, not that one. And no, I can’t tell you what it is, son, but I’m sure you’ll hear it in the rugby maul someday all too soon.
In our house – boy heavy – we call lady bits “fanny”, or at least I do on those rare occasions the vagina comes up, and always to wails of “awwww, mum, stop”. However, boy bits are bandied about willy-nilly, if you’ll excuse the choice of expression.
I like the word “yoni” though, and have henceforth adopted it, although I haven’t yet test-driven it on the kids. It’s completely new to me, yet it’s charming, un-rude and just saying it – “yoni” – makes me feel a little wave of rare affection for my nether regions. But, while I like the word yoni, I remain disturbed by the general colloquial naming of the female, er, “lady bottom”.
For the vagina, there are precious few of the fondly intimate names that boys have for their knobs/dicks/peckers/todgers/schlongs. Even the rudest penis name of all (sensitive readers should look away now), “cock”, is only really a little bit rude. Boy bits are given names that are all quite pert, and at worst, a little giggle-inducing. There’s the throbbing shaft of romance novels, there’s the one-eyed trouser snake, there’s willie and winkie in the playground, and there are endless pet names like Fred, Dirty Harry, John Thomas, Thumper, and the notorious you’ll-never-get-laid-calling-it-that-buddy Meat Injection.
There are penis names that big up the business and imply the prowess of the machinery in question, like truncheon and third leg and trouser snake, and penis names that are really filthy in a way that demeans women, vaginas and the very notion of making lurve. Girls don’t have the same easy familiarity with their vaginas though. Why not? Every single phrase I can think of that refers to the vagina – even with the help of the all-knowing Googlemeister – seems, well, unnecessarily rude, and too often downright crude. Or clinical. Or cringe-worthy. Why?
Is it because nice girls don’t mention their vaginas? Because nice girls are supposed to ignore their existence? Because nice mothers say “did you remember to wash down THERE?” like it’s an unmentionable secret? Even modern, forward-thinking parents discuss their daughter’s nether regions with clinical politeness, primly annunciating “vagina” as if it’s something separate, functional and purely biological.
And now Hollywood calls them va-jay-jays – a term gaining in popularity and reducing our most womanly parts to something that smacks of baby-talk, uncomfortably close to Lolita, to paedophilia. And while being rather fond of the term “fanny”, I wouldn’t be saying it to my grandmother. Other than that, just about every vagina name I can think of clearly came straight from boy porn – I mean, what girl would refer to her minge or muff or pussy with any comfort? – and too often these names have girls labelled like pieces of meat, or receptacles for sperm, names like fur burger and meat curtains and feedbag… Oh lord, I can’t continue. What if my mother reads this?
We need to reclaim our vaginas and all their cunning linguist nicknames as our own – and with it all the pleasures and uses and functions they encapsulate – because they are ours and ours alone, these yonis, these fannies, these little bits of heaven that we may occasionally share. And yoni is a whole new name. Well, to me. It’s slips off the tongue with friendly ease, remaining slightly mysterious but also delightfully cheerful. A yoni doesn’t have issues, emotional, hygienic or otherwise. A yoni is upbeat and enthusiastic, but knows when to be serious. A yoni doesn’t care for extreme looks or Brazilians or dye jobs or anything that might make it nervous or paranoid. A yoni is interested and interesting. A yoni wouldn’t be caught dead in anything that made it itch or crept up at the back.
A yoni is pithy and no-nonsense, the Yardley Oatmeal type, holding personality and content of character in high esteem, while eschewing all that would undermine its sense of worth.
A girl could value a yoni’s opinion. And a girl should, because a yoni has got, well, balls…