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Sperm Trumps Vagina. Excuse Me?

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What, we can’t way vagina?

A while back, I was horrified to hear that a tampon company was banned from three networks from airing a commercial that actually used the word “vagina.” They changed the word to “down there,” but even still, two of the three networks wouldn’t air it. This lead the tampon company to reshoot the ad without ever once referencing the female genitalia. In response to all this, UbyKotex (who is sponsoring a book giveaway for What’s Up Down There?) launched an awesome ad campaign about telling it like it is. Their ads totally make fun of tampon commercials. But still, they never once say the word vagina.

What is the matter with us? What are we so freaking afraid to talk about those things every person on this planet came out of? And why the double standard? When I was at a Superbowl party, they aired an ad that talked very frankly about erectile dysfunction. My four year old was like “Mommy, what’s erectile dysfunction?” I found myself floundering to explain that girls have vulvas and boys have penises, but that sometimes the boy’s penis doesn’t get hard when it’s supposed to. “When is it supposed to get hard?” she asked. “Uh…well…um…have you heard of the birds and the bees?” But thank God, by then, someone had pulled out a lollipop and her sweet tooth got distracted. I was off the hook.

Don’t say “coochie”

This week, I was on a famous national radio show that shall go unnamed. They invited me to be a guest on this radio show but when they received a copy of my book, the producer called and said, “We’re having second thoughts. We’ve read the book — and we love it — but we’re a bit concerned about the language.” Okay, so I have a potty mouth. I figured they wanted to make sure I didn’t say any four-letter F bombs on national radio, and of course, I know how to behave. But no — it wasn’t the cuss words they were worried about. It was words like “coochie” or “va jay jay.” I giggled because I wanted to name my book “Coochie Confidential” but my publisher wouldn’t let me. They told me “Down There” was suggestive enough.

So I agreed to keep quiet in exchange for massive exposure on a famous radio program. But midway through the program, the host picks up my book and says “You’re gonna love this. Listen to the chapter title — ‘How Coochies Smell and Taste.’” And she got bleeped. And then she said, “Hey, am I allowed to say the word coochie on the radio?” And she got bleeped again. The producer was behind the glass screen, shaking her head like we were two naughty children.

Another producer of a national television show invited me to appear on her show to talk about What’s Up Down There? — the plan was for the hosts of the show to ask me the questions they’d be too embarrassed to ask their gyno. But the producer warned me we’d have to be careful. “You can talk about vaginas,” she said, “but you’re gonna have to call it a ‘passion flower.’” Say what? A PASSION FLOWER? Are you kidding me? But in keeping with my mission, I smiled demurely and agreed to her terms.

But the idea got nixed by the hosts. Apparently, they were too embarrassed to ask their questions on national TV, so we offered to tone it down for them. But they said no. Too racy. Too personal. Too much vagina talk. So the show got canned.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


+ add your own
12:48AM PDT on May 11, 2013

Woman are getting obsessed.I thought only men did that

8:37PM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

va... gi... na...
say it again --> vagina
nothing happened, the whole world keep going :)
so why so afraid?! hahah
*poor double-standard men

8:26AM PDT on May 22, 2011

Come to the UK! I'm sure this is a purely american prudery, as I've heard vaginas mentioned on both radio and TV. Admittedly our adverts for "feminine products" are pretty much as coy as yours, but that's all the more reason to invest in a moon cup!

7:02PM PDT on May 21, 2011

why are people so scared to say vagina?
it's easy, vagina.
vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina. there.

5:25AM PDT on May 21, 2011


12:57AM PDT on May 21, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:51AM PDT on May 20, 2011

The biggest problem is Men have been tought to be scared to death over your Vagina and the power it holds over them. Just the thought of a Vagina makes them act stupid and sophmorish. Your Vagina is so good and powerfull it cant even be discussed in public in a serious way by men.

10:50AM PDT on May 19, 2011

Uterus is a bad word too apparently. I have noticed that any product that has to do with female pleasure enhancement is put on only late night space, yet we have those darn Viagra and cialis adds running to the point of annoyance! Especially when insurance pays without question for old men to get it up.
There is a definite problem with the media anyway and mostly men run it who do not care about women's issues or body parts( unless they can utilize them) I guess they think that women never watch TV?? so there you have it.

9:08AM PDT on May 19, 2011

a little pussy never hurts anyone. They always purr at you.

9:06AM PDT on May 19, 2011

Your not talking about Donald Trumps sperm are you?

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