Vajayjay: Do We Need That Word, Oprah?

Many bloggers and YouTubers have commented on Oprah’s use of the cutesy “va-jay-jay” during her otherwise open discussions about women’s sexuality. She didn’t invent the term — the then-pregnant character Dr. Miranda Bailey introduced the term on Grey’s Anatomy on Feb. 12, 2006, when she chastised a male intern by saying, “Stop looking at my vajayjay.”

The term caught on rapidly, especially after Oprah adopted it, and even the New York Times discussed the vajajay trend. According to the NYT, Grey’s Anatomy’s creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes fought to use vagina in the script instead:

“I had written an episode during the second season of ‘Grey’s’ in which we used the word vagina a great many times (perhaps 11),” Ms. Rhimes wrote in an e-mail message. “Now, we’d once used the word penis 17 times in a single episode and no one blinked. But with vagina, the good folks at broadcast standards and practices blinked over and over and over. I think no one is comfortable experiencing the female anatomy out loud — which is a shame considering our anatomy is half the population.”

Now you hear “vajayjay”on television shows, read it in blogs, see spoofs on YouTube (don’t miss The Soup: Oprah’s Va-Jay-Jay, and accept it as the cute, friendly, non-graphic, inoffensive way to say vagina or vulva. (The vagina is the canal; the vulva includes the whole area: labia, clitoris, pubic mound, and vagina.) As the linguist John H. McWhorter said, as quoted in the NYT, “It sounds warm and familiar and it almost makes the vagina feel like a little cartoon character with eyes that walks around.”

It occurred to me that if Oprah adopted “pe-pee-pee” as her pet word for “penis,” it wouldn’t sound as endearing.

Tell me, do you find “vajayjay” a useful addition to our lexicon? Do you like it? Do you use it? Personally, I prefer vajayjay to other, more demeaning slang words for female genitals, but I’d rather hear the anatomical terms normalized and accepted.

How about you?


  1. Anonymous on July 31, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I first became familiar w/the term when I saw it in huge letters on the cover of Cosmopolitan, all over a picture of Rihanna (their "fun, fearless Cosmo girl that month). Rihanna has a sexy image, & so does Cosmo, but I thought this was a bit much. If I was Rihanna or her manager, I would've said something to Cosmo about it. Yes, she's sexy, but I think that she would want to be known for her music as well as her "vajayjay".

  2. Linda McCabe on July 26, 2009 at 3:53 am

    I gotta say that the only person I've heard using "vajayjay" is Stephanie Miller. Since she's a comedian/morning radio personality, I didn't blink when she said it.

    I thought it was funny, but then again I think most of what she says is funny.

    It doesn't bother me. Then again, it depends on the context.

    If it is to lighten up the mood of the discussion then by all means, use it. If you want to be clinical, then use the clinical terminology.

  3. There are more words in EVERY language for the sexual organs than for any other body part. And as you say, many of them are demeaning. While clinical terms are healthy, my husband and I enjoy these Sanskrit words: yoni for vagina which translates to "Sacred Space" and lingam for penis, "Wand of Light".

    We loosely expand our understanding of yoni to include the clitoris & vulva as well – more of a sacred “place” than just a “space.” In fact, sometimes I invite my husband's attention – and his touch – to the outer edges of my whole body, saying, "I'm all yoni for you, sweetheart!"

Leave a Comment