Vaginas or Fannys? Unlocking the mystery
A few years ago I took my 4 year old for “settling in” morning at school before going into reception in the summer term. I had no qualms as I have three older children whom have all attended the same school – with the same teacher.
So imagine my horror when I collected him at the end of just a 3 hour session and the teacher said “Sarah I just need to have a quick word with you”…. oh no!
This is how the conversation went:
Teacher: Well Peter has been telling everyone that about the parts of their body..
Teacher: Yes, but he has been telling them about ALL of the parts of the body…
Teacher: And he knew ALL of the names for them!!! He was telling all the girls they have vaginas!!!
Well to be honest I walked away quite proud of him. I can imagine how this conversation may progress over the years……
Girl: I have a “nu-nu” you know!
Peter: A what???
Girl: A “nu-nu”, you know, a “ladies front garden”.
Peter: You have a garden in front of your house? I have a front garden as well 🙂
Girl: No don’t be daft Peter, I’ve got a “minnie” – down there.
Peter: Well I’ve got a fairly mini something down there as well – but it’s not called a “nu-nu”
Girl: No Peter – yours is a “winkie”, and mine is a “fanny”
Peter: Okay, I think we need to clear this up…. I have a penis and testicles whereas you have a vagina and vulva..
GIrl: Oh Peter you are SO GROSS!!!!
So, does it actually matter what we teach our children to call their “bits”?
Well, yes, I think it does. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t often go all “staunch feminist” but I think it is really important for us to bring our girls up with correct anatomical terms – because the alternative is that they hear all the other crap names that are often derogatory or childish. C… ( no way can i even go there on writing THAT one down!), minge, klunge, gash, sperm pot …….. the list goes on. But they are all insulting!! I wanted my little girl to grow up knowing that her body is “HERS!” – her vagina will enable her to birth her babies, and to give HER pleasure – it is not there for a man to “use” (unless she wants him to :-)!) or to EVER be told what to do with it by another person against her will.
Now think about a guys words for his penis – schlong, weapon, tool, todger, prick…. all vaguely powerful words. To be honest some of the words that came up when I googled alternatives for Penis were grotesque – and nearly all of them were derogatory to women. “Womb Ferret” was just about the kindest one on one website BLEUGH!!!
My boys have always used the correct terms for male and female, and not surprisingly have huge respect for women and their amazing power to birth. My eldest son (15) has been comfortable asking me about his girlfriends periods and asking if he can help her in any way through her period pains. I don’t think he would have that respect if I had taught him that girls have “leak weeks when the painters come in – she’s probably going to be a hormonal dragon anyway!”.
So yes, it really does matter what you teach your children. By using correct terms you are actually widening their respect for future relationships and not making “anything down there” “dirty”.
Just a final note that I absolutely appreciate that the words penis and vagina can seem very “clinical / cold / weird” to use with your tiny toddlers – but if you use them when you are potty training your child “Don’t forget to wash your vagina / penis” in the bath, then they will never think it is “strange” it will be just the same as don’t forget to wash behind your ears!