Naming our nether bits

BY NATALIE ANDERSON
Last updated 09:40 27/05/2010

So five-year-old boy has been doing the Keeping Ourselves Safe programme that all the school kids do. The community constable comes in and they talk about the importance of knowing their phone numbers and addresses and good touch and touch that makes them feel uncomfortable and it's all very good. And they get a little worksheet and in one part they have to fill in the little line drawing of the boy and girl and label all the body parts. Great.

BabyAt the same time, we've been doing an "all about me" focus at Playcentre with the three-year-old twins. Also cool.

Except when it comes to naming the girls' bits. Somewhere between preschool and school, the name has changed.

At school it's a vagina, at Playcentre a vulva. So which is it?

Antomical correctness is in. I have it on medical authority that the bit you see in the line drawing is the vulva. Trouble is, that word doesn't seem to be in particularly common use - some people think of Swedish cars. Some people just laugh. Others roll their eyes.

In our house we use the actual names. I think it is important to be able to call a spade a spade. It makes for clear understanding and, honestly, I don't get why we have to have euphemisms like "winkle" or "pee pee" or whatever. A penis is a penis. Nothing to be embarrassed about, right?

And if you do use a cute "name", when do you outgrow it? Do you keep it as an adult? Anyone else out there who can't help but smile about the name "ralph", thanks to Judy Blume's book Forever? And let me tell you, in the romance novel world, there are some stellar euphemisms out there. Although now I think about it, most of these euphemisms and the "cute" names are assigned for boy bits. Girls don't seem to get pet names so much - other than fanny, or front bottom (as opposed to back bottom and of course in the US the fanny is the back bottom. Uh oh, more confusion). And I sure as heck don't know anyone who's told their daughter it's her delta of venus.

So what do you think? Does it really matter? Is vulva the way of the future?

What names have you taught your kids? Do you use pet ones or let your kids chose their own? If so, what are they and what are some of the worst you've heard?

And if you don't use pet names, which V do you use?

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Picture: Fairfax

83 comments
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Dandy   #1   09:57 am May 27 2010

I laughed when I heard a 4 year old once talk about his c**k... Just sounded so boastful and grown-up, compared to someting like diddle. I think most 'cute' names come from the parents embarassment, so agree with your decision to use the correct terms. As the father of a wee girl, I quite like the shortened version ('gina) but look forward to hearing the consensus on naming girls bits, as we will have to face this shortly...

Bob   #2   09:59 am May 27 2010

In our house with three preschool boys we use the word "peanut" rather than penis just because it's a better sounding word - Maybe it's my upbringing, I'm sure I can blame my parents.

The area in question is the two year old's undies have a picture of "Muka Puka" on them [from a TV show]and we all know how a two year old will generally replace a P with an F

Donnelle   #3   09:59 am May 27 2010

We use "penis" and "vulva".

I heard a horrible story about a girl whose parents called it a "cupcake". When she came to her teacher and complained that someone had touched her cupcake she got brushed off.

Mike   #4   10:01 am May 27 2010

anatomical names work for a while.......then they grow up and get emparrased by them - about age 6-8 in my experience - and there's no way you'll ever be allowed to use them again! :)

samm   #5   10:05 am May 27 2010

Being fairly pragmatic we try and use the proper terminology with our daughter without making a big deal out of it. All the silly taboo euphemisms drive me mental.

Reminds me of the time when the high school class my wife was teaching tried to embarrass her by asking what a prince albert piercing was. It backfired on them when she explained it without hesitation or embarrassment, in great and exruciating detail complete with sketches on the whiteboard, and asking if there were any futher questions on the subject...

P   #6   10:09 am May 27 2010

I think kids should be taught the correct names. Vulva is the external genitalia and vagina is the invagination, or tube, to the cervix/womb. If anyone is doing any inappropriate touching it's most likely going to be on the vulva, not the vagina. They should be taught both words, although I think for little kids the idea that they have an invagination down there would probably come as a surprise. Perhaps vulva when they are small and then an extension to vagina when they get older?

Ian Kennedy   #7   10:12 am May 27 2010

I'm a big fan of 'quimmy' as the name for the female nether regions, or just quimm.

Jacqui   #8   10:13 am May 27 2010

Pet names irritate me. I don't know why but they do. Foo foo (where the hell did that come from!); pee pee; wee wee; winkle; todger; beaver (sometime with "split" in front of it); diddle; snatch; dick etc etc. We have always said penis and vagina. My eldest son (when he was very young) walked down Lambton Quay one day announcing to the world that he had a penis because he was a boy and mummy had a vagina because she was a girl. The reactions were priceless.

Boys have a penis and testicles, girls have a vagina - live with it.

Shortie   #9   10:14 am May 27 2010

I had to chuckle about the bit refering to all the different euphenisims they use in romance books. A sex scene can last a couple of pages without mentioning ones 'nether regions' by name.

I have four kids, and I know I shouldn't, but I do feel embarrassed/uncomfortable about using the proper names. My boys do know the proper names, but use 'willy' in general conversation. Actually, somehow they have picked up the term 'weinie', but I don't know where lol.

craig   #10   10:21 am May 27 2010

I think I'll stick to the traditional gutted hedgehog.


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