What do you call your vagina?

Morning team, how’s everyone today? Here’s yesterday’s column. Hope you enjoy. Oh and Happy Mother’s Day for yesterday for all you Mums. You rock!

(Oh and public shout out to mine, love you mum, you’re amazing. xxx)


Vagina. It’s not really the most romantic word in the English dictionary, is it? Not that ‘penis’ is that much better.

I recently finished writing my second novel and for the most part, writing the sex scenes was excruciating. Partly because I kept imagining people I know, like my mom or my work colleagues or clients reading it and immediately assuming that’s how I have sex. But it was mainly excruciating because I kept running out of things to call my character’s private parts.

The problem certainly isn’t that we’re lacking in synonyms. There are plenty of those. In the penis department there are literally dozens of names for your ‘thing’, ranging from words like ‘dick’ or ‘dong’, to the more scientific, like ‘lingam’ or ‘phallus’, and even sillier names like ‘John Thomas’, ‘todger’, ‘stiffie’ or completely ridiculous terms, like ‘pork sword’, ‘love monster’, ‘joy stick’, ‘love truncheon’ or ‘trouser snake’. There’s also the ever popular ‘Manhood’, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use that.

And of course there are a ton of names for the vagina too. Among others there’s ‘guava’, ‘poon tang’ or ‘yoni’ to choose from. And the ever hideous and unacceptable ‘C’ word, which is too loaded to even type out in full.

But let’s be honest here, there’s nothing very sexy or romantic about any of the words in either the male or female camp, and none will do anything to make my writing more lyrical. In fact, they’re all pretty awful and I shudder to type most of them, particularly the female ones. For some reason they just feel completely silly, totally derogatory, or really disgusting. And the last place you want to gross somebody out is in a sex scene.

So when I was writing I would get as far as ‘he ran his fingers over her….’ and then I would freeze, type in a word. Blush, backspace delete it. Try another word, then hang my head in shame, and delete that too. I felt like as soon as I thrust any of these terms into the scene developing on the page in front of me, the sex I was writing about instantly became less romantic and actually quite hard around the edges (no pun intended).

Some guys out there like to name their Willies. Like if a guy’s name is John, he’ll call it John Jnr. Or if your name is Richard, you might call it Little Richard. I once dated a guy who called his thingy ‘The Beast’, I kid you not!

So for a while I considered doing that in my novel, letting each of my characters name their sexual parts. But that got a little creepy when it came to narrative, for example, ‘… She felt his ‘Mr Happy’ pressing up against her.’ just doesn’t work at all. And another problem with that plan was that women don’t really name their vaginas, well none that I know of anyway, that seems to be purely a guy thing.

Then for a while I was tempted to just leave blank spaces in the book, where the words should be, and leave it up to the reader’s imagination, but my editor wasn’t having any of that. So in the end I took a deep breath and used a handful of choice synonyms a couple of times. But more often than not, to keep things tidy, I avoided naming my characters sexual parts altogether. Like when you bump into someone whose name you think you remember but you’re not sure, so you do the safest thing possible, which is to not mention any name at all.

Granted, it’s the coward’s way out, but really, what other options did I have? Quim certainly wasn’t going to cut it. It’s just not that kind of book.

*Paige Nick’s new novel – This Way Up – is now available from all good bookstores and http://www.kalahari.net/, pulpbooks.co.za etc.

And it looks like this:

17 responses to “What do you call your vagina?”

  1. Turkey Purse…


    The problem with ‘fanny’ is that in USA it means bum! Not entirely sure how that happened. They’re not really two parts that you ever want to confuse.

  2. I bought your book on Friday (the first one). Stayed up till 1am this morning with Rachel. She’s fun!

    But now I’m tired, which is not good because your friend Wendy is my teacher so if my work’s not up to scratch, I’m blaming you. Just saying.

    P.S Rachel has the best status updates.

  3. Hello Anna, I just went to check out your blog and it’s hilarious. And I’m not just saying that cos you bought my book and said lovely things about it. (i’ll pay you for that later.)

    Loved your post on being an adult, or as you put it ‘being your own adult’ and getting to say ‘fuck’.

    Hey everyone, Anna’s blog is here: http://jeansandblacktea.blogspot.com/

    Please tell that Wendy she’s to give you an A+ immeditely.

    Seriously Anna, thank you for your support, I really appreciate it.

  4. (giggling) In my writing, I like the Americanisms ‘pussy’ and ‘cock’, although the pompous OED describes them as vulgar (the words, not Americanisms in this case). Pussy is soft and warm and very pettable. Cocks are strident, assertive, and very pettable. Yes, I like those terms.

    Whilst I don’t mind vagina, I don’t care much for the television euphemism ‘v-j-j’, too silly for words.

  5. @Golden Psych – Bajingo, that sounds like some kind of instrument, like a cross between a banjo and something else.

    @sensuelle – love your comments! Last line is too clever for words.

    i’m also not crazy about vjayjay, does nothing for me. I’m telling you, none of them are any good! someone needs to invent a new word. @Sensuelle, i nominate you! ready, steady, go!

  6. Paige, a friend and I giggled and snorted and brainstormed (mostly snorted and giggled). I’m afraid we went from bad to worse:

    • apricot of love
    • bred ‘n’ butter
    • warm embrace
    • puffin’ muffin
    • sin cushion
    • velvet vessel
    • butter churn
    • strumpet crumpet
    This one is awful…
    • puckered purse of passion
    and the absolute worst:
    • love strawberry (a seedy name!)

    For penis, we thought of blowing the
    • kugel bugle

    Our favorite,
    For women:
    • her nectarine
    For men:
    • his creamsicle

    Sorry, Paige. After stirring the, er, pot, I may never be allowed to write another word. Oh dear, a spanking may be in order.

  7. Oh Sensuelle you’ve had me laughing out loud. This is brilliant. Will reprint on the blog on friday for everyone’s perusal. Too fantastic. Apricot of Love is the best best best. In fact it’s so good it should be the title of a book.
    I almost said I heart your Apricot of Love, but that doesn’t sound right.

  8. Aw Paige, learn the definition of spam. This was personalised and relevant. You should check out the article, it’s all about you. You special little cookie monster you!

    You should apologise to sensuelle for butchering her pretty easy name like that. Sensual Elle? You just added your own letters!

  9. From Mahala…
    “A precipice from which I have recently jolted myself back has been the writings of a certain Paige Nick. For those unfamiliar with her, they can look at her blog here excerpts of which form her column in the Sunday Times. Entitled A Million Miles From Normal, the column/blog follows her various forays into modern personhood, and judging by the blog’s title picture (a Terry Richardson–esque shot of some hot piece of ass saucily pulled apart through flimsy knickers) one would expect a point of view that is sexy, provocative and contemporary”. A “tongue in cheek take on the differences between men and women”, as she puts it.

    And while this is the guise that Nick tries to assume, what it ultimately equates to on the page is a shaky finger’s failed attempts at finding “The Pulse”.”

    You’re almost famous!
    for being crap and irrelevant!
    except to a niche market of middleaged moms who dont like the term ‘cunt’. Very risque.

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