The Legalize V Campaign Reminds Us Why We Need To Be Saying The Word "Vagina"
Back in April, a substitute art teacher in Battle Creek, Missouri was fired for one of the craziest reasons. Her crime? Saying the word "vagina". Keep in mind she wasn’t talking about her vagina with her eighth grade class, or even tossing the word around fun, but said it in regards to art. Art; a medium that’s chockfull of vaginas. But for the school district of Battle Creek, the word "vagina", a part of the female anatomy, is so controversial, so upsetting, so wrong that it shouldn’t ever be uttered, it resulted in the firing of Allison Wint.
Vagina is often censored in the media, politics, and as evidenced by the situation in Battle Creek, education. Exactly how does a school teach sex ed without using the word "vagina"? Well, they probably just skip that chapter, I guess.
Just in time for Women’s Sexual Health Month, a bunch of female entrepreneurs and visionaries have gotten together to put an end to the stigma surrounding the word vagina. Why? Because come f*ck on! Censor the F-word until you’re blue in the face if you want, but not a part of the female anatomy! The Legalize V campaign is a collaborative effort of gynecologists, as well as CEOs and Founders of some of the most feminist and pro-women companies around, including Alexandra Fine of Dame Products, Tania Bolder of Elvie, and Karen Long and Dr. Leah Millheiser, both of Nuelle, developer of sexual wellness and intimate care products for women.
“Since founding Nuelle, we have been on a mission to address concerns women have about their sexual wellbeing," Karen Long, CEO and Founder of Nuelle, tells Bustle. "But because the topic is so stigmatized, there are barriers we continuously have to overcome when delivering women the information and tools they need.”
One way to erase the stigma? We need to stop censoring the word "vagina". "I'm a fan of a good dirty word as much of the next person, but the problem here is that 'vagina' isn't dirty — it's the name of a part of our bodies, and an incredibly important one," Alexandra Fine, CEO/Co-Founder of Dame Products, tells Bustle. "By relaying the notion that it is a bad/dirty word, we're cutting people off from being able to describe any activity that might have to do with that part of their bodies — which has countless negative consequences. Suddenly, universal acts like sex, menstruation or even discharge become impossible to have a dialogue about, because we can't say the word 'vagina.' This means that these topics are under-discussed, misunderstood, and generally poorly addressed."
Here are more reasons to start saying the word "vagina" from the Legalize V campaign.
1. It's An Anatomical Word
“Vagina is an anatomical word. It is the only word we should be using. I think another really important thing to think about is that there is data that young girls who are not taught to say the word ‘vagina,’ so they’re taught other words, cutesy names for their vagina, are actually at a higher risk of not reporting sexual abuse than young girls who learn the proper terminology.” — Dr. Leah Millheiser, OB/GYN and CSO of Nuelle
2. It Promotes Healthier Relationships
“Women deserve an open and honest dialogue. It just promotes so much in terms of self-esteem, self-worth, and frankly, healthier relationships for all of us.” —Cindy Whitehead, Founder of The Pink Ceiling
3. It Empowers Us
“Perpetuating the taboo against the word 'vagina' disenfranchises women both politically and personally. We want women to feel empowered and confident in their womanhood.” — Patricia Scheller, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Viveve
4. Not Saying It Implies Something Is Wrong
"Not only does the prohibition of saying the anatomically correct word 'vagina,' put women at risk, it can have a profound impact emotionally. How does this make us feel about being a woman? How does it make girls feel about themselves and their futures? Because not saying vagina implies that something natural is wrong. It tells girls that one of the very things that defines us is not appropriate to talk about.” — Patricia Scheller, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Viveve
5. It's Essential For Progressing Our Sexual Health
“If we want to progress in women's health and women's sexual health in particular, we all need to stand together to create change. I hope this is just the beginning.” — Karen Long, Founder and CEO of Nuelle
6. It's Critical For Understanding Our Bodies
"I think it’s so important and critical that women understand how their bodies function and how they work. We see on EmpowHER all the time young woman who are asking questions around sexual health… there seems to be this stigma that we should not have. Every single woman should know about her body and sexual health should be something that’s discussed openly and honestly." — Michelle King Robson, Founder of EmpowHER
7. It's Time To Fight The Double Standards
"There’s such inequalities and double standards when it comes to men and women, especially around sexuality. I mean, how many times do you turn on the TV and see an ad for erectile dysfunction? More times than I care to see. But god forbid we talk about intimate health issues that women experience, because if we did, we’d have to say the word 'vagina' and you know we can’t say that.” — Colette Courtion, CEO of Joylux
8. It's Time To Reclaim Our Bodies
"When we’re growing up, we’re taught about our bodies. We’re taught to go to the dentist, to brush our teeth, to go to the optician, to check our eyes, but what are we being taught about our vaginas? Why are young women left with no knowledge and no understanding? Together we need to reclaim our bodies. It’s time to legalize the word ‘vagina.’” — Tania Boler, Co-Founder of Elvie
9. It's Essential To Our Wellbeing
"We've become afraid of, ashamed of, and unwilling to talk about standard bodily and human functions because of certain nonsensical taboos. We need to get over it, so we can be real about it. So we have better sex and happier more fulfilling lives," Dame tells Bustle.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; YouTube