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?