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After ‘Me and my vulva’ photostory man tried to stand up for vernacular vagina vs vulva; it didn’t go well

13th February 2019

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Man tried to explain difference between vagina and vulva—and it didn’t go well (mirror.co.uk).

Photographs of vulva by Laura Dodsworth, image via The Guardian article
Photographs of vulva by Laura Dodsworth, image via The Guardian article

Being after The Guardian published a much social media shared “Me and my vulva” photo story (theguardian.com) at the weekend which looked at 100 different women’s vulva using the word vagina only in its proper anatomical context—in which “vagina” is the muscular canal the opening of which is protected by the vulva, being both sets of labia “lips”, clitoris and the cushion-like mons pubis—having done breasts back in 2014 and penises in 2017 and related to how Swiss researchers had to soothe labiaplasty panic last year by asserting there really isn’t such a thing as a normal, average—and to use the exact word headline if not actual researchers used at the time—vagina (Latest Picks 1st Jul. 2018).

And attracting a militant Mumsnet crowd likely also keen to remind that the vulva should also have a generous natural framing of pubic hair now not so often seen since the Osmonds were on TV and that granny panties are perfectly function apparel for every occasion, and no doubt allowing some chaps to take similar topical smarmy metrosexual delight correcting their female colleagues and perhaps—or perhaps not—friends when next they refer to “vagina” in the hope of prompting Orange is the New Black-esque pee hole epiphany (GoogleTube) in those not having not read The Grauniad’s (mumsnet.com) “Me and my vulva” article—which had the reputation for typos inspiring the nickname continued to this day could well have been “Me and my volvo”.

However there was one reply in particular that caught people’s eye on Twitter—but it captured attention for all the wrong reasons.

A man named Paul Bullen replied to the newspaper, telling them: ‘The correct word is vagina’.

Said chap being a writer and teacher from Chicago and he…

…didn’t stop there, he quickly began trying to explain the difference between vulva and vagina—much to the dismay of women.

And quickly slapped with “mansplaining” label and having virtual equivalent of water and bleach poured over his manspreading groin (dailymail.co.uk, Oct. 2018), although seemingly in this case with no Kremlin-funded Russian troll factory involved (bbc.co.uk, Oct. 2018). Although in truth it could appear the point he was making was being missed in a fury that he was attempting to take something away that woman had reclaimed as their own:

Cara Delevingne: “Did… Did you just… cum over my vulva?

He said: “I am making a factual claim about how most people do in fact refer to their genitalia. And I am defending their use. I am taking issue with those who are telling them they should not do that.

“Relatedly, if a pregnant woman speaks about the baby in her belly, I would not tell her she should be referring to it as a fetus. Fetus is a technical term appropriate in scientific contexts.”

But his standing up for actual vernacular usage came to no avail:

Over 1,000 responded to Paul’s initial tweet, informing him that it was in fact he, who was incorrect—the photos were of the external female genitalia and thus were vulva.

One person wrote: “Imagine arguing to a woman what her own body parts are called. Ffs.”

Indeed, and with “even a gynecologist” and Dictionary.com dipping a pedantic oar in, but, in Paul’s postulation at least, it still being a question of semantics with vernacular usage still referring to lady bits as a whole as vagina with none seemingly having yet coining a cutified euphemism for vulva like the vagina’s vajayjay (urbandictionary.com), and with Cosmo this time last year still looking for a “less-technical term” nickname for their vaginas (cosmopolitan.com, Feb. 2018) rather than their vulvas, and with indeed our beyond reproach NHS (National Health Service) still addressing all parts collectively when answering in its sexual health section “Is my vagina normal?” (nhs.uk) with comforting appraisal advice:

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else—what someone else’s vagina looks like is normal for them, but won’t necessarily be what’s normal for you. Yours is unique.
Fendi’s £750 “Touch of Fur” fur-trimmed shawl dubbed the “vulva scarf”
Fendi’s £750 “Touch of Fur” fur-trimmed shawl dubbed the “vulva scarf”

Before getting down to distinguishing between vagina and vulva starting in the fifth paragraph so as not to leave you with the awkward impressions of ladies with legs up in the air and speculum stretching (alsscan.com) comparing their actual vaginas.

And add to that Italian fashion house Fendi’s £750 fur-trimmed shawl which was dubbed “Vulva scarf” but which other shoppers still no doubt infuriatingly called a vagina (independent.co.uk, Oct. 2018) with the vaginal canal opening actually being where you pop your head with seemingly everything else in the external vulva collective being present bar a clitoris bean bag banging a fashionista on the back of the bonce being present.

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