Catherine Blackledge (ftr, that is a BADASS name, like, she might have some ancient magic or something) is trying to single-handedly rescue the word vagina from the bizarre way we’ve treated it over the years.
Blackledge, who works for a fertility charity, writes about how parents perpetuate the stigma around vaginas by refusing to use the correct language. “Most parents in the UK choose to use vaginal euphemisms such as flower, tuppence, fairy, bits or front bottom,” she writes. “Vagina and vulva are not the wrong words, or rude words, or too anatomical words, they are simply the correct words and it is only an adult’s own hang-ups that colours them otherwise.”
She believes parents should just say vagina and vulva, but suggests that “if the UK wants a new non-anatomical word, my vote is for verenda. It’s an old word for the vagina and means ‘the parts that inspire awe or respect’. Grace, gravitas and a great provenance combined.”
She also believes girls should be aware of the ancient stories about the power of female genitalia. “Imagine a world where as girls we’re told these incredible stories – in mythology about the goddesses raising their skirts, and in doing so making the world fertile again, or they raise their skirts and they can defeat armies,” she says. “We all know about Bellerophon and Pegasus the winged horse, but we don’t know about the women who raised their skirts to the hero and the winged horse and vanquished them. I tell my daughter all these things because I feel like it will make a difference.”