India, as a country has always shied from addressing a woman’s anatomical needs, and deafening silence is observed when women raise legible concerns about their bodies and desires. Ironically our society has sexualized women’s bodies from eternity right from bras to choice of wearing clothes and applying makeup.
One of the key issues the feminist movement has fought for ages is women feeling uncomfortable talking about their sexual desires, accepting themselves, and just embracing their bodies. We as a country in the 21st century shy away from speaking about vaginas even when studying sex education in school. The word is one of the cases in which the human race comes up with its utmost creativity and makes use of innovative comfortable synonyms when we want to avoid saying “vagina”.
In a routine lecture about language and literature, my teacher recently told us the etymology of the word vagina. Literary context- The word derives its origin from the Latin term vāgīna which means sheath, the cover housing a sword. And this definitely made me cringe me a lot.
The term itself in a connotative sense boasts about how men consider their penises as a weapon and a signifier of their manliness.
Forceful coercion and rapes are indicative of the same trait of toxic masculinity that lays a man’s strength in his penis and a woman’s sanctity in her vagina.
It immediately made me think of why I support the open usage of the term “vagina” when trying to have healthy discussions in my friend circle (you don’t have these discussions with your family in brown households right?). I am all in favour of sex positivity and bashing taboos around the topic. But the new piece of knowledge I just received is hands down one of the most derogatory connotations I have come across so far.
Like most of the professions, Science and Medicine have largely been dominated by males since forever. Thus, it comes as no wonder that our body parts were as well named after men; Gabriel Fallopian for fallopian tubes and Ernst Grafenberg for the elusive G-spot.
Thus not only does the continuous usage of these terms brings into light the gender bias that has excluded women from getting into the medicinal field for ages, but the derogatory meanings attached to a woman’s body parts also take forward the lineage of patriarchal history that continues to sexualize female bodies even in the slightest manner possible.