Tell me it isn’t true. Rumor on the street has it that TV networks have banned a tampon company for making an ad that uses the word “vagina.” Um, how exactly are we supposed to talk about tampons without using the word vagina? And what’s wrong with that? Vagina vagina vagina! (Okay, did I just sound like a defiant little kid? Good.)
Apparently, after this infamous tampon ad was banned from three networks, they re-shot the ad and replaced “vagina” with “down there.” Even with this change, two networks still wouldn’t run the ad. Which means they made a tampon ad without ever once referencing the female genitalia. I mean…duh, people. That’s like making a beer ad without ever referencing the mouth, lips, or tongue. Vaginas are where tampons GO.
Two Steps Back
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, the company ended up killing the ad. Back to the drawing board where feminine hygiene commercials are made about women in running on the beach with billowing white scarves, with no references to any part of the female anatomy.
Once I cooled down after reading about this, I started thinking. Why are we so freakin’ afraid to talk about what makes us uniquely female? I mean, seriously. Every single human being on this planet came out of one of those things we’re not aloud to name on network television. The vagina is the source of all life, the portal of pleasure, the living, breathing heart of the world. But oh no. Don’t even think about saying the word out loud. What gives?
Why Do We Get Squeamish?
First, a disclaimer. Yes, I’m an OB/GYN physician who wrote a book called What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (on shelves next week! pre-order now! yahoo!). I actually wanted to name it Coochie Confidential, but my publisher wouldn’t let me. I was told I could use the word coochie — or vagina or any other reference to the female genitalia — anywhere I wished within the text of the book. But not on the cover. Oh no. Not on the cover. “Down there” was suggestive enough. I said, “How ‘bout Pussy Power?” (Tee hee.)
So yes, I’m probably more comfortable with vaginas than the average human. I’ve delivered other women’s babies through them. I’ve done Pap smears inside of them. I’ve operated on them. I write about them. I’ve changed my daughter’s diapers. And I’ve probably witnessed over 100,000 of them in all of their feminine glory throughout the course of my lifetime. I even have one of my own! So maybe I have a special perspective in feeling horrified that we’re not allowed to use the word vagina on television. But I doubt I’m alone.
Not so sure? Do these words make you feel uncomfortable? Are you one of we socially shy ladies who wasn’t raised to talk about your girly bits? Maybe your mother called it “Front bottom” or “wee wee” or “down there.” But that doesn’t mean we can’t stop the madness and call it like it is. Vagina. Vagina. Say it with me. VAGINA. (You know you’re grinning right about now, even if you are squirming in your seat.)
But it’s more than just a game, friends. Language is a key part of empowerment. How can we be empowered to BE whole, beautiful beings who claim our femininity if we can’t talk about it?