What is wrong with saying VAGINA?

In India, there seems to be a taboo regarding sex and sexuality. The majority view seems to be – No, we don’t want Sex Ed!!! What if our kids turn out to be like the Immoral Damned West?!!! *gasp*
Oh, so you have no problem with saying words like VAGINA? No problem with SEX ED??!


Sooooo… Respecting my body means to not talk about it? Doesn’t that actually mean that I’m ashamed of my body? Does shame and respect go hand in hand?
I think not.

Here are ten reasons why talking about sex, sexuality and genitalia shouldn’t be taboo –

#1 CHILD ABUSE. If a kid is being abused and talking about specific parts of his/her body is taboo and “shameful”, how is the kid even going to speak up?

#2 INFECTIONS. If a kid feels any sort of discomfort in his/her penis/vagina (yes,”decent” people. Run for cover!) which might lead to infections, how is the kid going to talk about it?

#3 SEXUAL ABUSE. Kids often sexually abuse younger kids. When they are curious about sex and are afraid to talk about it with their parents, they often express themselves this way.

#4 RAPE. Teenagers even go to the extent of raping other children to explore sexuality and satisfy their curiosity about sex when they can’t talk about it freely with their parents or experiment with it without shame.

#5 UNHEALTHY VIEW OF SEXUALITY. Often, these taboos give rise to screwed perceptions about sex. Which has the potential to screw up their entire outlook towards life.

#6 BEING ASHAMED OF THEIR OWN BODIES. I could just go on and on here…

#7 SLUT SHAMING. Nothing much to say, really. Just a few questions – why do some parents in India prefer to let their daughters marry their rapists? Why are rape victims murdered? Why don’t parents want their daughter to divorce her abuser? Think about it. One common element is sex.

#8 NO AWARENESS. Believe it or not, most people in India do not even have a clear idea about what constitutes consent. What is marital rape? What is date rape? Most people do not even acknowledge marital or date rape as rape. See what I’m talking about?

#9 PUBERTY. When teens reach puberty, they really have no one to guide them. That often causes misconceptions. Girls do not even know about menstruation. Many girls think they are going to bleed to death. They do not even tell anybody for a few hours. Why? It is “shameful”.

#10 MISOGYNY. The countries which have taboos about sex and anything connected with it are the most misogynistic. They shame women about something so natural. They encourage guys to participate in slut-shaming.

How is this going to help us at all? How will such taboos help us in achieving equality? How will this help in making us a more developed nation?

It won’t.

Vagina is not a dirty word.

I tweet @Archsmta

7 thoughts on “What is wrong with saying VAGINA?

  1. Hi Archismita,

    This is Rita from The 50 Million Missing Campaign. Thanks for your messages, and I’m sure glad that there are more women out there in there demanding answers to how women are treated worse than trash in India. Well — vagina should not be any different from any other anatomical word, like eye, nose, hand, feet… But it’s just control. In one study done in Delhi it was found that most women did not even know that their vagina was not where they peed from — there are two opening down there — the urethral opening and the vaginal opening and they didn’t know that. It’s one way a culture alienates women from themselves. To be alienated and ashamed of a defining part of your womanhood at the most elementary level. In my book ‘Sex and Power’ which looks at the history of attitudes to gender and sexuality in India, I use ‘Penis’ and ‘Vagina’ directly instead of the funny phrases we were told in school in India. And when I launched my book, at Crossword, the manager was a little concerned about the words booming over the loudspeaker over the store. But hey, maybe it was the first time for them, but I thought maybe this will be a start for them ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I agree completely the about the extreme levels of harm to societies regarding both silence regarding sexuality and the shaming of the feminine. The only thing I raised an eyebrow at was the motivations listed in the RAPE section. I don’t think someone rapes out of curiosity. They rape out of sadism.. or peer pressure. Although it is correct to connect public shaming of sexual experiences with the leniency shown to rapists worldwide.

    • Well, there have been many cases in India where the extreme sexual repression + easy access to cheap, violent porn to young boys (14) push them in that direction.

      If their parents talked freely with them and told them to not take porn as a guideline, I’m not sure many cases would have happened.

      • I don’t think you need violent porn to be a violent sack of shit. I do think education can build empathy. I accept that in organizations where raping a defenseless, untrained, unarmed woman is considered proving one’s ‘man-hood’ can be something a weak individual may be pressured into doing without actually desiring to. However saying that one rapes because one is not sexually educated is (almost) like saying it is just a mistake born of ignorance. Again, education can build empathy, yes, but one does not have to be educated in order to understand that causing pain is not a good thing. Its the same as arguing that rape is about sex as opposed to domination and violence and I do not agree with that.
        Sex is to rape what taking a swim is to having your feet dried in concrete and being tossed into a river to drown. One has to be motivated to harm, not just get off in order to pursue that kind of violation against another sentient being.
        I personally understand the appeal of both domination and violence, respectively. That does not mean that I find it justifiable to cause harm to people in order to enjoy these things. I do not find it justifiable not because I am educated in the damage that it does but because I make a conscious choice not to, innately realizing that such an action is bullshit. I don’t have to be a wiz-kid or a saint to not want to hurt people, which means that people that do–educated or not–have no fucking excuse.

      • My point should in no way be taken as a rape apologist one, as you seem to have interpreted it. I agree 100 per cent that rape IS about power. However, in a patriarchal society, males are socialised to be entitled to sex (and beautiful women). That is what many porn movies depict. Entitlement, women’s consent is negligible. I am not excusing rape. Showing reasons WHY a particular thing happens does not mean we excuse it, it means we can work towards overcoming it now that we know what is wrong in our culture.
        It would be apologist if I said men can’t help it or that men have evolved this way (lol).
        Showing flaws in patriarchal socialisation and objectification of women in the sex industrry is needed.

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