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Vaginas are for Pussies

by Mahala High Five Brigade / Images by Alison Sutcliffe-Smit / 13.05.2011

On the subject of vertigo, author Milan Kundera once said that more than the simple fear of falling, it is rather “the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”

Recently, this is a sentiment with which I can’t help but feel a particular affinity. Where it started doesn’t really matter. Soap operas, Huis Genoot, Reader’s Digest joke pages. Big Brother, celebrity microblogging, pony press political analysis. It’s all the same, really.. I’m talking about the consumption of content that bores us, that we loathe not because it is shocking or offensive or outrageous, but because it is annoying, dull and omnipresent.

Miley Cyrus videos. Perez Hilton. Evangelical Christian Infomercials. Bad 80’s porn. It’s like I woke up one morning and my screen had become a sort of Dinner For Idiots. Why we do this is anyone’s guess. Part irony, part masochism, we bring ourselves teetering to the edge of the Blah, until something jars us out of our inertia and we pull ourselves back, disgusted and terrified that we may lose our shaky foothold and fall to the pit of miscellaneous cultural debris that lies below.

Paige Nick

A precipice from which I have recently jolted myself back has been the writings of a certain Paige Nick. For those unfamiliar with her, they can look at her blog here excerpts of which form her column in the Sunday Times. Entitled A Million Miles From Normal, the column/blog follows her various forays into modern personhood, and judging by the blog’s title picture (a Terry Richardson–esque shot of some hot piece of ass saucily pulled apart through flimsy knickers) one would expect a point of view that is sexy, provocative and “contemporary”. A “tongue in cheek take on the differences between men and women”, as she puts it.

And while this is the guise that Nick tries to assume, what it ultimately equates to on the page is a shaky finger’s failed attempts at finding “The Pulse”. The dull, vom-inducing drone of a women’s magazine, that, through its attempts to be “sassy” and “independent” just end up perpetuating the same old repressed, prudish rubbish that The Sexists have been pushing in our faces since forever ago anyway.

A good example would be last Sunday’s piece, in which Nick puts forth the ever pertinent question of whether Your Vagina Has A Name. In summary, a piece about the writer’s gee-gosh-giggle-blush task of naming her character’s “thingies” in her latest book. Far from the witty, provocative piece it thinks it is, what it ends up reading as is a middle aged woman’s inability to come to terms with the existence/name/use of her own vagina, and, it seems, vaginas in general.

Vaginas are for Pussies

Throughout, she regales how when engaging in this apparently filthy and embarrassing task, she “would freeze, type in a word. Blush… then hang [her] head in shame…” And how, as a result of these “gross” words “the sex [she] was writing about instantly became less romantic…”

Really Paige Nick, really? If that’s your reaction to writing about vaginas, one can only imagine what happens when you try and have a bit of fun with your own. Look, female sexuality is a minefield of opinion and perspective. Virgins, whores, Sex and the City, bra burning, Gloria Steinem, teen pop idols… to each their own interpretation. But whether you like your views pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen or sliding down a stripper pole to pay for your law degree, the one thing I was pretty sure of last time I checked was that it was perfectly okay to call a vagina a vagina. Or a pussy. Or a vag. Or, what Nick dubs “…the ever hideous and unacceptable ‘C’ word, which is too loaded to even type out in full.”

Well excuse me miss uptight panties. What’s with this wave of neo-conservatism? All those years our parents fought for liberation, for equality, and now we’re slipping back into Reagan-era family values, fawning over doilies on ETSY, tut-tutting over “too-tight” dresses and blushing at the mention of our own “thingies”. I have a cunt. So sue me. So does the queen. And, incidentally, my ex boyfriend is one. I like the word. As an insult, as an anatomical term, as an expression of endearment… Does that make me “silly, totally derogatory or really disgusting?” What about Anais Nin? Erica Jong? Remember the Vagina Monologues? If Oprah can stand on a stage and say Cunt, Paige Nick, so can you. Cunt is the new black.

But let’s take “you” out of it for a second. On a more philosophical level, names are important things. Ask any linguist (cunning or otherwise, lolz lolz). Names reveal our attitudes towards and understandings of the objects they represent. They give them identity and power and legitimacy. Why then were you “tempted to just leave blank spaces in the book, where the words should be.” Is that what vaginas are? Blank spaces into which the “audience” may insert whatever definition they please? Insert here? Mmm. Freudian! And pretty troublesome in our exciting times of corrective rape, homophobia and gender-based violence.

Cookie Monster

Blank spaces are dangerous. Silence is dangerous. Being ashamed of and alienated from your body is dangerous. One has to look no further than Harry Potter to understand that “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” exemplifies the evil and the debased. Many a subtext is revealed in jest, and as benign as intentions may be, to suggest the vagina is some sort of anatomical Voldemort is both archaic and insulting. Not to mention indicative of someone so out of touch with the subject matter that one may questions their business writing about it in the first place.

My advice? Next time you want to publicly opine on vaginas (or, for that matter, write and publish sex scenes involving them), take a deep breath, get over your repressed bullshit and step into 2011. Your ladyparts deserve a name. And while you’re at it, prefferabley something smart, like “Einstein”. After all, the last thing the world needs is another stupid cunt.

*Images © Alison Sutcliffe-Smit.

33   4
  1. dudie says:

    i didnt find this very interesting.

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  2. Long Tall Sally says:

    @dudie Maybe because you’re a dudie. There’s a HUGE double-standard in today’s culture where men can refer to their genitalia by any number of juvenile nicknames (dong, schlong, weiner, dick, prick, cock, knob, willy, winkie, etc.) and they can also come up with equally dumb names for the female vagina (pussy, clam, beaver, cunt, punani, cooch, snatch, twat, cooter, pink taco, etc.) BUT if women use any of these names it’s considered unfeminine and vulgar.

    It is interesting that men seem to use these nicknames in pride, while women come up with flowery, juvenile terms (flower, privates, coochie snorter?) due entirely to a sense of shame surrounding the word.

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  3. Frank says:

    So typical of Danni Diani, most definitely the epitome of a young retarded writer with views so strong, you dare contest them and she will publicly mock you. She is quick, although I could definitely outrun her!

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  4. K says:

    Love your work, Ms. Diana.

    This the same Paige Nick who had a problem (and descends into coy terminology) when writing her sex scenes in her…um…’novels’? OK fuckit, let’s call a spade: pulp schmaltz.

    Oy vey, this woman gets a weekly column in the Times’ Sunday supplement?

    Ring the dumbing down bell, and hail the Angels Of Political Coyness.

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  5. Flossie with arthritis says:

    this is bladdy excellent… dudie’s problem is that he’s a dudie who obviously never studied any feminism… and as for Frank – not sure what you’re on about. You make it seem like Danni Diana has no right to have a strong opinion. This is good writing, she justifies what she says. It makes sense. her argument flows cogently, it’s entertaining and informative, etc.

    She is certainly no retard. But as for you, the jury is out. And you’re mean.

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  6. Marx the Spot says:

    That Kant picture is genius… still lolzing!

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  7. Oke says:

    Have had a problem with Paige Nick’s crap stereotypical whinings for some time now, so, well done, Danni for taking a shot at her.

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  8. dudie says:

    no, i studied feminism and probably more than most here. that’s not the issue – i just don’t think that the issue is an important one – it’s not indicative of male-female dynamics; at least not in my mind or the minds of my female friends. i thought we were way past this sort of discourse …
    …and so i didnt find it ‘interesting’, that’s all.
    i understand the text, kids – dont worry about me. keep reading.

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  9. Murray says:

    I get your point Danni, but the nastiness is childish.

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  10. Johnny says:

    Thanks for speaking out against the most dull, high-school and retirement home-esque (at the same time), pretentious and irritating column that I have had the misery to come across. I have, like yourself, recently pulled my mind out of this wallowing gutter of mediocrity that is Paige Nick’s writing. I really hope she responds to this article so that we can all have a good laugh. Shot Danni.

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  11. cumulorhombus says:

    This rocks. Kudos Danni. Please write more.

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  12. Doctor L. says:

    I don’t think I like these articles. The ‘Spoken Turd’ one is another one. I don’t have a problem with ‘take-down’s’, but where the poets and Paige Nick might be ‘misguided’ at least they are creating things they believe in and are putting them out. What these articles do is just add an air of pollution around something that’s already there, with nothing particularly intuitive or surprising added from the writers; simply: “I saw this and I hate it and I think you should know why I hate it.” It comes across sanctimonious and excessively mean spirited. Not to mention genuinely uninteresting. The reason it works so well when Montle takes something down is because he inserts himself in there with irreverence, inventiveness, self-deprecation and a kind of honesty and inwardness that actually makes a new [more interesting] creation out of the things he writes about/takes down. Think this adds more to the blah of the internet, honestly. Not trying to ‘burn’ you. Personally, I enjoy Mahala’s ‘personal journalism’ style when it actually has the person in it and not just their sense of what is wrong or right.

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  13. Danni says:

    Doctor L. thank you for seeing me see it, hate it and tell you why, then hate it and tell me why. agreed, it makes for uninteresting reading. i’ll try be better next time.

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  14. cumulorhombus says:

    It’s very interesting how most of the negative criticism of this piece appears to be coming from men. I find Doctor L’s critcism to be the height of hypocrisy, where he can still champion the gratuitous vulgarity of Montle’s pieces and then accuse Danni of “pollution”. That’s a clear double standard. Men are allowed to be earthy, frank and humorous about issues of the body and behavior and women are supposed to avoid that because it makes men uncomfortable. We’re all members of the human race, for fuck’s sake. Maybe Doctor L should take a look at his cultural roots and beliefs and ask himself how much of this is subliminally contributing to a prejudiced and skewed view of gender?

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  15. cunt is the new black says:

    bitch and moan, bitch and moan. it sounds like a porno up in here.

    i fully agree with the article, it seems like paige nick needs to get to know her ‘cunt’.

    @long tall sally, its easy to moan about societies double standard regarding sexuality but thats actually not going to get you anywhere. what you actually need to do is give your pussy a name and introduce it to the world.

    little girls studying feminism at university are always the first to complain about societies gender roles, yet they still go home, religiously read all the girly magazines and then shave their ‘ham wallets’ because thats what the boys like.

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  16. Doctor L. says:

    And dudie is right. This discourse [mind you, not actual sexism, but the discourse] is dated. So much so, in fact, that even though I’ve never heard of Paige Nick I actually find the absurdity of her coyishness in 2011 fascinating. And funny. But I’m aware it might be me being an enabler a la so many well-schooled brethren of the post-post age. But also, it could be that I’m just interested in new ways of looking at old things. I also don’t believe it when people align their personalities so neatly with an ideology. No one is purely either or. Expressing this is a big part of what makes writing breathe, in my opinion.

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  17. brandon edmonds says:

    Cuntastic. “I have a cunt. So sue me. So does the queen. And, incidentally, my ex boyfriend is one!” may well be the greatest lines ever composed in this here southern hemisphere. Fleet fox.

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  18. cumulorhombus says:

    Doctor L needs to go into politics. He is displaying deftness at dancing around issues as if he was actually dealing with direct criticism. The vagueness with which this piece is being lambasted is quite appalling.

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  19. Vote for Pedrobear says:

    Cool story, Donny 😉

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  20. mega-douche says:

    don’t trash your gash!

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  21. Doctor L. says:

    @Danni I understand you not taking it well. No writer likes to be criticised. But I don’t think that’s a fair comment. For one, you’re equating the comments section [a space for reaction and feedback] to the space up there, reserved for writing [an act of creation]. Of course, you don’t have to listen to what I say. I’m just relating to you as a reader who read your work and tried to offer an honest reaction to it. I do agree with the ‘views’ in the piece. I’m not a neanderthal. I just think there could have beeb be more personality and sophistication. PERSONALLY. If all this means nothing to you, ignore it. There were a number of things that I did like in it, by the way. Just overall, as a whole, I didn’t for the reasons listed.

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  22. danni says:

    Oh yeah dr l. i’m ”taking it” hard. reeeel hard. in fact, thanks to your vague and lengthy critique i dont think i’ll ever write again. opinions are like cunts. roughly half the world has them. i showed you mine, you showed me yours. sweet.

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  23. Doctor L. says:

    Damn. The comments section is a trap! Ha Ha. Obstinate. Okay, I can dig that.

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  24. danni says:

    Oh and for the record, nicks writing inspires irritation. her approach to vaginas inspired responce. but on a personal level i didnt set out to take her down. far from just a random blogger that i’m ‘childishly’ picking on, she is a popular writer who gets her views published weekly in a major national newspaper. and like all public writings…my piece included… opens itself up to comment, analysis and response. and yes, my style is strong and provocative and in your face, but fukkit thats my style. if youd rather read more self effacing, gentle, ‘imaginative’ styles, then off you go. no point in trying to dissect the piece in terms of its percieved stylistic failings. as much as i love u i won’t change 4 u baby

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  25. the informer says:

    Danni has a cunt, what a relief that is.

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  26. danni says:

    yeah. and its controlled by a jew that made me put that line in. personally it was a little too vagina monologues for me. love slash hate you andy davis!

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  27. Doctor L. says:

    @Danni Nice! I respect that. Criticism only works when it comes from someone you admire or it aligns itself with your instincts or some doubts you might have had, anyway. Irreverence is necessary in a writer. You have to stand up for and protect your essence. Best!

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  28. dudie says:

    i have found a friend in doctor L…

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  29. cumulorhombus says:

    Nothing annoys me more than pseudo-intellectual backtracking.

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  30. danni says:

    good ruck in finding your crit, L-san.

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  31. cumulorhombus says:

    That’s definitely crit with an “r”, he won’t be finding anything else.

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  32. Thato says:

    This —–> “Is that what vaginas are? Blank spaces into which the “audience” may insert whatever definition they please? Insert here? Mmm. Freudian! And pretty troublesome in our exciting times of corrective rape, homophobia and gender-based violence.”

    Done! Nothing more to say!
    Loved it Danni.

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  33. Anonymous says:

    Quite satisfied with the manner in which you just pushed *pg dn*

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  34. juliet says:

    cervix delivery. danni diana ticks the boxes. KIEF.

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  35. BeeP says:

    i am so proud of what Danni has created here: a strongly-worded critique which has sparked some interesting if somewhat ‘poseur-ish’ reaction, at times. I think the writer’s personality is clearly defined in the writing. well done! So kiff!

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  36. Anonymous says:

    This describes Mahala perfectly!:

    “It’s all the same, really.. I’m talking about the consumption of content that bores us, that we loathe not because it is shocking or offensive or outrageous, but because it is annoying, dull and omnipresent.”

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  37. RocMarcy says:

    Doctor L makes me cringe, that pseudo intellect steez

    i can just imagine the clear glass thick black framed shits he wears

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  38. Tessa says:

    I’d like to let everyone know that my vagina’s name is Mildred! I thought it sounded dorky, yet sexy in a repressed school girl sort of way.

    What do you reckon?

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  39. Carol Reed says:

    Mine’s called Alice. And no, I’m not going to unpack that.

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  40. moose says:

    wowee, those are some cutting edge pics.

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  41. Andy says:

    “bitch and moan, bitch and moan. it sounds like a porno up in here.”

    this should be on a Mahala T-shirt!

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  42. Marx the Spot says:

    this line “to suggest the vagina is some sort of anatomical Voldemort is both archaic and insulting.” deserves an award!

    Just saying. Excellent work Double D!

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  43. Alistair says:

    Such a hackneyed cop-out (lemme see now, how else do I describe a washed up cabaret artist/comedian/enne who just refuses to go away?).
    Thanks Danni, giving me the pleasure of applying the word in its true sense, your writing is liberating.
    (your old chum 😉

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  44. Doctor L. says:

    You know what? I’m glad for the backlash I’ve received. Let me quickly tell you why. The writers I admire in Mahala usually step up to call out bullshit when there’s bullshit. And my boy Andy D, too, he calls out bullshit when there’s bullshit, rely on that. I levelled criticism at an article, here. Not Danni. Not personally. And everything against me has been speculation about who I am. Which says more about you than it does me, in my opinion. Sure, I might come across verbose, my grade 10 english teacher said the same. What can I say? Its not my mother’s tongue. I tried to be sincere, which apparently translates as ‘pseudo-intellectual’ here in the pits of commments sectioning. My only crime is that I believe in writing. Re-read my comments and you’ll see that. I accept that Danni doesn’t take herself seriously as a writer, yet. I said this. We came to a truce. Here I am trying to positively contribute to a publication I believe in and all you people can construe is that I’m some white hipster in a high rise, when in actual fact my life has caught so much flame all I can believe in is writing.

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  45. who's your daddy says:

    C U Next Tuesday

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  46. Oprah says:

    @Doctor L

    Thanks for the confession. If your period flow is heavy, I suggest Always lifestyle pads. They give you the comfort you need when you need it the most.

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  47. Anonymous says:

    Hello Paige

    Let me know when you read this!

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  48. gormless says:

    Doctor L, don’t flatter yourself. Those of us who’ve read mahala for a while know exactly who you are and what your agenda is.

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  49. snapper says:

    speaking of things that sahal not be named:
    what’s the word for vaginal lubricating fluid?

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  50. Uhm says:


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  51. tru dis says:

    a whining piece of average writing about someone else’s writing.
    Mahala needs new writers.

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  52. Tru dat says:

    And another whining comment about someone else’s writing. mahala needs new readers….

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  53. j says:

    I read it because it had the wordy “pussy” in it. I’m not proud of myself.

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  54. Dash says:

    Fanny-tastic writing!
    Hopefully this will create a space for prudes like Paige to perform the obligatory West African naming ceremony for her vajayjay,
    whispering monosyllables into her inner labia.
    And then hopefully her vajayjay talks back, the vagina dialogues, one cunt talking to another.

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  55. Sarah_j_fell says:

    Great piece, Danni. I’m yet to read Nick, but I know her. She is middle aged. Not that that’s an excuse. But I guess I’m not really that surprised. I can’t imagine her calling someone a cunt, let alone having one.

    Really like the bit about the blank space… hectic oversight on Nick’s part, the analogies that can be made are hardly esoteric.

    But maybe I should read her first before I say any more.

    Danni, I want to see more of your writing here 🙂

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  56. danni says:

    thanks se. but yeah, go read her piece. i’m not advocating she runs around calling people cunts. it’s more about the attitudes and underlying sentiment that she expresses that i’m challenging 🙂

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  57. sarah_j_fell says:

    Haha, yeah I hear you. Though there’s a lot to be said for calling someone a cunt every so often :p
    Anyway, I went and bought her books, so I’ll get back to you on that.
    Hope you having fun in Cape Town xx

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