I don't like the word. I never have. Maybe it was the jokes kids made at school. They'd say: 'don't be such a vagina,' or they'd say 'you're such a pussy.'
Later in life, after some soul-searching, and body-embracing, I dove deep into the women's healing arts, and accepted the word, kind of. At least, anatomically, I understood the where, what, and why. But I still didn't like to say vagina.
Why not Vulva? Great word. Sounds exotic. Feels respectable. It encompasses the totality the female anatomy. Although, vulva still has a neighbor named vagina.
Vagina never hits anyone's ears right. Never. You should have seen the look on the librarian's face when I asked her if she could order the Vagina Monologues for me. I had to be overly confident, so I said it loud, because, I didn't want to whisper.
Because I believe women are strong and vaginas should be talked about, without shame. And why should I have to whisper about something half of us have?
Either way, this experience was an indicator of the discomfort and shame that clouds the realest understanding of the divinely-designed female body, and the topic of sex.
Don't get me wrong, I love my vagina, I just don't like to call it that. Vagina just doesn't cut it for me. It doesn't sound like anything worth celebrating, though I know it's power very intimately, and though I know that without a vagina, you would not be on earth and reading this right now.
I've done the work to release the guilt, shame, and negativity baggage that comes with being born a female in patriarchal America into a catholic family. But it wasn't until last week that I realized exactly why the word vagina turns me off.
I was reading the dictionary (because I'm like that) and looked up the meaning of Vagina. Get this: Vagina (noun): from the Latin root meaning "sheath for a sword."
Wait, sheath for a sword, as in, a place for a man to lay his battle weapon? Sheath for a sword, as in, a place to put something... hard? Sheath for a sword, as in a place to put a penis?
Okay, before you say 'this is getting kinda feminist'... I am feminist, and, I love men just as much as I do women. But social issues are personal issues and they all need to be eradicated.
In other words: we've been calling the our female-ness a place for men. All this time. Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal to you. After all, words are just words, right?
No. Words are powerful. Words hold energy. Words are declarations. They have meaning. And that meaning is transferable. And for thousands of years we've been using the words that men chose for us... to talk about us. The wrong words.
This discovery (that vagina = something for man), is part of a much larger problem that I've been intrigued by for a long time.
All over the world, women are taught that their bodies exist for men. Women in Africa are still brutally circumcised so that they will remain good and faithful wives to their 'mates'. Impressionable girls influenced by the judeo-christian system, learn the creation myth in which Eve is born from the rib of Adam.
The subconscious mind hears: Women, secondary. Male, god. Female, afterthought.
Millions of little girls are fed the damaging disney diet. You know the story. The pretty princess in distress needs a savior. Here enters the handsome prince to save the day. Too many girls grow up believing they'll be saved or fulfilled, by someone else. Too many girls unknowingly believe that prince charming will arrive to make it complete.
This may not be news: You don't need anyone to validate your existence. You don't need a man to hold your hand through this world. You don't need to be attractive to anyone to be worthy of your desires. You don't need to be a snug fit for a penis to feel good about yourself. And you definitely don't need to wait around any longer.
I'll say it loud and clear so we can remember our power together: Your worth is not determined by your ability to attract, keep, or please a man.
The imprecise word vagina, is just a tiny glimpse into the fracture of an out-dated worldview that isn't working.
That worldview is one of male dominance, suppression, and separation. That worldview is one that accepts war and killing, under the guise of freedom, as noble. That worldview is one that perpetuates problems, and doesn't offer solutions. It's the limiting view that keeps women out of the room when important decisions are being made.
Luckily, the old system is crumbling and the compassionate feminine heart that exists in all genders is resurfacing as humanity grasps to make right the wrongs. Through our outdated language, and in particular, the use of the word vagina, I see the story of the Divine Feminine rising unfurl before my eyes.
Fact: if there were more vaginas who stopped settling for second, stopped playing it safe to be liked, who stood up to speak and give voice to universal pains, and who felt worthy sans external validation, then this planet would be green and lush and fertile and there would be peace.
Women would be revered, again, and the intelligence of emotional sensitivity would be elevated as a characteristic that is so needed.
And what's I see is this: when a woman decides that her body is for her own pleasure and fulfillment, and not for the needs of others, she glows the honey golden light of divinity, speaks her hard truths with clarity, and lives a cutting-edge life of the rawest, realest, healing power.
Because a woman that stays small, to be accepted and valued, is leaving full potential living on the table. A woman that fears taking up space, is dying with her song still inside her.
Back to vagina: How about tunnel of life? How about portal to another dimension? How about you arrived via vagina? A strong vagina works for you first. It is yours. Own it, woman.