So the other night my seven-year-old daughter finally popped the question. "How does the sperm actually get into the VJ, mom?".
I gave a panicked snort and hot coffee shot out of my nose. "Er, erm, I was wondering when you were going to ask me that, darling! Good question, darling!" I gabbled, trying to buy some time. "How do you think it gets in?"
She grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and started to draw. "Well, the dad lies on one side of the bed, and the mum lies on the other side. Then the sperm shoots out of his bollocks and then it goes Ping! Ping! Ping!". (She drew arrows whizzing up and down the bed and bouncing off the bed posts). "Just like a ball in a pinball machine. Then it shoots up the mom's VJ."
I quickly disabused her of this notion, using some (rather fetching, even if I say so myself) anatomic diagrams of my own. "You are KIDDING me!" she said. "Gross." And, thankfully, there were no more questions, and not a hint more interest.
Isn't the term 'VJ' delightful? It's just right. Not too clinical, not at all twee, but sensible, descriptive and matter-of-fact. ('Vagina' always sounds so, well, thrust-in-your face, so to speak; 'fanny' is sweet but a bit coy and old-maidish).
The term crept into our family lingo after I read Jonathan Safran Foer's enchanting book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close last year. The story's narrator, Oskar, uses the word frequently in relation to his mother. Here's an excerpt from Gather.com. (Oskar's talking to Gerald, a limo driver, who's driving him to a cemetery:)
...And then I thought of something, so I said it. "Actually, if limousines were extremely long, they wouldn't need drivers. You could just get in the back seat, walk through the limousine, and then get out of the front seat, which would be where you wanted to go. So in this situation, the front seat would be at the cemetery." ...
...."Now that I'm thinking about it," I told Gerald, "they could make an incredibly long limousine that had its back seat at your mom's VJ and its front seat at your mausoleum, and it would be as long as your life."
Shortly after I'd read it, I heard Oprah using the word 'Va-jay-jay' on her programme.
Anway, the reason I'm going on about this is because a clinic nurse recently advised my sister not to refer to her baby's privates by anything but their strictly correct anatomical names, because it's important for kids to call a spade a spade in this day of rampant sexual abuse of children. All very well, but can you imagine the poor lass putting up her hand in class and saying, "Excuse me Miss, but my vulva is stinging?".
Some years ago, at a dinner party, the discussion turned to the names that parents gave to to their kids' privates. (Look, it was towards the end of the evening). Names for boys' equipment included (apart from the innocuous 'winkie' and 'willy'), 'tank', 'todger', 'percy', 'jolog', 'piepie', 'peter', 'ding-a-ling' and, incredibly, 'secret bit of flesh'.
For girls: 'daisy', 'fan', 'peanut', 'noo-noo', 'kitty', 'peachie', 'cookie', 'front-bottom' and 'muffin'.
Reading over this list now, and seeing how sugar-coated the girls' nicknames are, maybe the clinic nurse has a point.
Here's an interesting moms' discussion (titled "Teaching our daughter about her cheeseburger") about names for privates (hilarious reading) and a thought-provoking analysis by Mimi Spencer, from The Guardian, who concludes the piece by saying,
If girls are to be given a chance to normalise their relationship with, and develop understanding of, their anatomy, we surely need to get over the giggles and arrive at one term which fits. But, please, not Kipper. It gives me the willies."